21 WPIAL wrestlers reach PIAA Class AA quarterfinals
HERSHEY — After he endured the first two losses of his season in one afternoon, Charleroi junior Nick Gavazzi left Johnstown last Saturday with the weight of a flawless record no longer on his shoulders.
A relieved Gavazzi arrived in Hershey for the PIAA Class AA individual championships, and that spelled trouble for Bethlehem Catholic's Ryan Todora, Gavazzi's first-round opponent.
Gavazzi (35-2), the fifth-place finisher at 138 pounds in the Southwest Region, pulled off one of the day's biggest upsets when he pinned Todora, a returning state medalist and the Southeast Region's champion, in the second period Thursday at Giant Center.
“I'm back to myself,” said Gavazzi, a two-time WPIAL champion. “I think those losses were a good thing.”
The match, scoreless through the first period, turned in Gavazzi's favor 1:00 into the second period, when the junior, on top, used a power half-nelson to twist Todora on the mat.
Gavazzi, who went 1-2 in the PIAA tournament last season, will meet Line Mountain senior Seth Lansberry, a returning seventh-place state medalist at 132, in the quarterfinals, which begin at 9 a.m. Friday.
“I'm just going and having fun,” Gavazzi said.
Gavazzi is one of 21 Class AA quarterfinalists from the WPIAL. Five teams — Burrell, Chartiers-Houston, Jefferson-Morgan, Kittanning and South Fayette — each advanced two.
For Chartiers-Houston's senior duo, Tanner Sutton (145 pounds) and Garrett Vulcano (195), hopes for some long-awaited hardware are high.
Vulcano, who went 1-2 a season ago in his state debut, cruised with a 10-1 victory over Hamburg junior Austin Bashore.
Sutton, a third-time state qualifier, handled Schuylkill Valley senior Zach Homan, 14-6.
“Me and (Vulcano), we've been next-door neighbors since forever,” Sutton said, “and after we lost in that blood round last year, we both looked at each other and said we're going to do our best to make sure this never happens again.”
On the opposite end of the age spectrum are freshmen George Phillippi and Greg Bulsak.
Bulsak, South Park's 126-pounder, continued his remarkable run with a 3-0 victory over Wyomissing senior Jaquan Gordon in the first round.
Phillippi, Derry's 113-pounder, advanced by toppling Wilkes-Barre GAR junior A.J. Luton, 9-0.
“I talked to the previous state winners and they said, ‘Focus on the match at hand. Don't look ahead,' ” Phillippi said. “That was easy to do.”