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Burrell's DesLauriers has sights set on elusive PIAA title

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Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Burrell's Dakota DesLauriers (right) pins South Fayette's Brad Haney in 45 seconds during their 182-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AA individual championships Feb. 22, 2013, at Chartiers Valley.


South Park, Freshman

Claim to fame: Bulsak (34-7) captured the 126-pound title at the WPIAL/PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional championship at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown on Saturday after defeating Jefferson-Morgan's John Demaske, 4-1.

Bulsak also won the WPIAL Class AA title after beating Bentworth's Vince Vahaly, 4-0, last month. He captured the Section 1-AA title and won the Burgettstown Tournament, as well. Earlier in the season, Bulsak placed fourth at the West Mifflin Christmas Tournament and was fourth at the Allegheny County Wrestling Championships.

“It was a good accomplishment as only a freshman and all,” Bulsak said of the regional crown. “I was pretty excited about the win.”

What does it mean to have so much success early on in your career?

It makes me think to myself I need to continue to do better down the road. It sets the bar pretty high since I'm only a freshman for my remaining years.

What do you need to do to keep yourself motivated and better yourself as a wrestler?

I have to think to remind myself about those moments after the wins. It's one of the best feelings you have when you win a match. You have to keep thinking about what happens at the end.

How do you think you will fare at states?

I think I will do pretty well. It's going to be tough. I know some of the kids in my bracket, but I think it will be tough.

What do you need to do to reach the PIAA podium?

I have to keep wrestling hard and try to pull something out. I just have to keep doing what I have been doing all season.

— Andrew John

Local Class AA PIAA qualifiers

106 pounds

Austin Griffiths, Southmoreland (32-4)

Brendan Howard, Jefferson-Morgan (40-7)

Austin McDermitt, Burgettstown (35-6)

113 pounds

Seth Carr, South Fayette (36-4)

Justin Patrick, Ligonier Valley (33-4)

George Phillippi, Derry (38-4)

Jake Rothka, Bentworth (39-10)

120 pounds

Mike Carr, South Fayette (29-11)

Josiah Hughes, Valley (33-11)

Joshua Patrick, Ligonier Valley (27-0)

Nathan Reckner, South Side Beaver (33-3)

126 pounds

Greg Bulsak, South Park (34-7)

John Demaske, Jefferson-Morgan (26-4)

Pat Dewitt, Valley (35-10)

132 pounds

J.R. Andrejcik, Burrell (31-9)

Jason Nolf, Kittanning (41-0)

Jake Wentzel, South Park (32-9)

Nick Zanetta, Keystone Oaks (32-4)

138 pounds

Steve Edwards, Burrell (40-7)

Nick Gavazzi, Charleroi (34-2)

145 pounds

Matt Johnston, West Greene (41-6)

Phillip Marra, Burrell (28-8)

Tanner Sutton, Chartiers-Houston (42-6)

Noah Tarr, Blairsville (37-3)

152 pounds

Boe Bonzo, Freedom (26-3)

Andrew Doak, Blairsville (36-2)

Grant Fetchet, South Fayette (37-10)

160 pounds

Jared Walker, South Fayette (31-7)

170 pounds

Dustin Conti, Jefferson-Morgan (37-0)

Michael Fetchet, South Fayette (39-3)

182 pounds

Dakota DesLauriers, Burrell (32-0)

Terrell Fields, Valley (37-6)

Scott Thompson, Blairsville (15-1)

195 pounds

Zac Croyle, Kittanning (28-11)

Garrett Vulcano, Chartiers-Houston (42-2)

220 pounds

Cody Jacobs, West Greene (34-6)

Jake Temple, Avella (37-1)

285 pounds

Allan Beattie, Burrell (36-8)

Jake Beistel, Southmoreland (34-5)

PIAA Class AA Championship Schedule of Events

Thursday: Preliminary bouts, 9 a.m.; First-round consolations, 12:15 p.m.

Friday: Quarterfinals, 9 a.m.; Second-round consolations, 10:45 a.m.; Semifinals, 6:30 p.m.;

Third-round consolations, 6:30 p.m.; Fourth-round consolations, 9 p.m.;

Saturday: Parade of champions, 1:45 p.m.; Finals and medal rounds, 2 p.m.

• For opening-round pairings for the PIAA Class AA tournament, visit

Top high school sports
Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 11:31 p.m.

As part of their daily practice routine, the members of Burrell's wrestling team run laps around the high school gymnasium. Their route wraps around the basketball court, includes two sets of stairwells and also involves a straightaway across the gym's narrow upper level, where extra bleachers are stored.

The end-to-end run along the elevated portion of the gym puts senior Dakota DesLauriers at eye level with the banners that hang on the far wall and commemorate the Bucs' five PIAA individual titles.

With every lap — there are many — he sees a banner with his last name on it for several seconds. The first name, however, is different.

DesLauriers, one of the most successful wrestlers in Burrell's history, plans to add the only title missing from his resume this weekend in Hershey, where he'll compete in the PIAA Class AA individual championships from Thursday through Saturday at Giant Center. If he achieves his goal, he'll join his uncle, Joel, who became Burrell's first state champion in 1997.

“It's motivation every day,” DesLauriers said. “I've been working for this so hard for all this time.”

Each of the past three seasons, DesLauriers moved closer to a state crown. As a freshman, he lost in overtime in the quarterfinals and then came back to place sixth in the 171-pound weight class. As a sophomore, he lost to the eventual champion in the semifinals and won the rest of his bouts to take third. Last year, he reached the finals but lost, 6-4, to Grove City's Wes Phipps, now a freshman at Penn State.

That setback ruined DesLauriers' flawless record for the season.

It also forced him to reassess his style on the mat. While he capitalized on opponents' mistakes about as well as anyone in the state, he needed a way to score on foes who rarely slipped up.

“I wasn't attacking on my feet,” DesLauriers said. “In one- or two-point matches, I waited and waited and waited for one takedown. I've had to open myself up a little more. I'm good in scramble situations; I just have to get myself into them.”

DesLauriers, who missed the first few weeks of the season with mononucleosis, again enters the PIAA tournament unbeaten (32-0). Two weekends ago, he claimed this third WPIAL title, and on Saturday, he earned his third Southwest Regional championship.

Few opponents have challenged him. Only two who lasted an entire match held the margin to four points or fewer.

An indication that he's climbing toward his apex, in the regional championship, DesLauriers cruised to a 13-4 win over Blairsville sophomore Scott Thompson, the District 6 champion and a No. 2 seed.

“The kid came off and was actually smiling because I think he felt like he'd been taken to school by Dakota on his feet,” Burrell coach Bud Sines said. “He just shook his head as if it was almost an honor to get beaten up that bad.”

Two other WPIAL Class AA wrestlers head to Hershey with zero losses for the season.

Kittanning junior 132-pounder Jason Nolf, a state champion as a freshman and a third-place finisher last year, is 41-0 this season and 128-1 in his career.

And Jefferson-Morgan senior 170-pounder Dustin Conti, a two-time regional and WPIAL champion, is 37-0.

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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