AAA wrestling: Battling nerves

| Friday, March 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The WPIAL/PIAA Class AAA Southwest Regional brings out the best in many area wrestlers.

It also brings out the butterflies.

Overcoming those butterflies is often the difference between a win and a loss, especially on the first night of the three-day event.

For Belle Vernon Area wrestler Brendan Hasson (120 pounds), battling through a few nerves was critical.

“The first day is always the hardest,” Hasson said after scoring a 5-2 decision over Waynesburg's Shaun Wilson in a first-round match at Norwin High School. “The first match is always the most nerve-wracking. I just wanted to have a good warm-up and visualize what I was going to do. I thought I could have done better. I didn't wrestle well in the first period, but I was happy after that.”

Hasson joins fellow Leps Nate Russo (126), Derek Verkleeren (145) and Adam Nickelson (182) in today's quarterfinals, which begin at 5:30 p.m.

As a freshman, Ringgold wrestler Doug Gudenburg (106) was making his debut at WPIALs. He needed overtime to notch a 7-2 win over Trinity's Tristan Buxton in a first-round match.

Gudenburg noted that he beat Buxton by a wider margin earlier in the season, but acknowledged that nothing comes easy at WPIALs. He's happy to put the first match behind him.

“It's important to get off to a good start because it relaxes you,” Gudenburg said. “You can get the first-match jitters out of the way and get ready for the rest of the tournament.”

The Rams' Jake Gerard (126) also emerged with a first-round win and will compete in the quarterfinals.

Elizabeth Forward's Lukas Etzel (120) was a first-round winner.

Meanwhile, BVA's Mitch Hartman (113), Josh Godzin (152), Austin Bell (160), Milton Kobaly (170) and Patrick Mayernik (220) each lost a first-round match and must battle through the consolation bracket. Ringgold's Kenny Tarpley (132) and Devin Fallenstein (160) and Elizabeth Forward's Jake Terrick (138), Luke Fournier (182) and Adam Oatman (220) also fell to consolations after first-round defeats.

BVA's Derek DeSalvo (195) and Austin Sluk (285) and Elizabeth Forward's Brandon Janicki (195) each lost in a pigtail match and were eliminated from the tournament.

Jason Black is a sports editor for Trib Total Media and can be reached at

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