Burrell's Edwards confident after opening-round victory
An opponent considered one the best in the country stands between Burrell junior Steve Edwards and further advancement in the winner's bracket of the PIAA Class AA individual championships' 138-pound weight class.
Edwards' attitude: So what?
A 5-1 win over Tri Valley sophomore Hunter Harner in the first round of the state tournament Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey moved Edwards into the quarterfinals where he'll meet unbeaten Benton senior Zain Retherford, a PIAA champion in 2010 and a third-place finisher in 2011 who has committed to Penn State. The quarterfinals begin at 9 a.m. Friday.
“Anyone can be beat. I truly believe that,” said Edwards, who improved to 41-7. “There's no reason why I can't win tomorrow.
“I like wrestling big matches. You go out there with nothing to lose. I personally feel like I wrestle harder against better kids.”
Senior 182-pounder Dakota DesLauriers advanced to the quarterfinals in decisive fashion as he secured an 18-3 technical fall early in the third period against Tri Valley senior Lyle Troutman.
Burrell was one of five WPIAL teams with two wrestlers in the quarterfinals. But the Bucs expected more, and they certainly didn't foresee the elimination of two team members.
While senior Phil Marra (145) recovered from a first-round loss with a 2-0 win in the consolation bracket, junior J.R. Andrejcik (132) and sophomore Al Beattie (285) both finished 0-2.
Kittanning's two state qualifiers, junior Jason Nolf (132 pounds) and senior Zac Croyle (195), remained in the running for titles through the first day. Nolf won his bout, 6-2, while Croyle scored a takedown with five seconds left in his match to win, 7-6, over Williams Valley senior Jonathan Rummel.
“I was nervous. This is a lot bigger than anything else I've ever wrestled in,” said Croyle, a newcomer to the PIAA tournament. “It wasn't my best wrestling.”
Valley senior Terrell Fields dealt with those nerves a season ago when he finished winless as a first-time state qualifier. More confident in his second go-round, Fields secured a 10-5 win in his opening bout.
Tied 5-5 with Reynolds senior Jamar Henry entering the match's final minute, Fields scored a takedown and then added a three-point near-fall.
“The kid was real slick and got a takedown,” Fields said. “It's states, so everyone is going to be tough. ... That's why I need to turn it on and take it to another level.
“We didn't come to Hershey for a vacation. We came to get on the podium.”
Vikings senior Josiah Hughes (120) lost both of his bouts, and junior Pat Dewitt (126) secured a 7-1 win in the consolation bracket to avoid elimination.
As he walked off the mat Friday evening, Kiski Area senior Matt McCutcheon grimaced.
He advanced to the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAA championships' 195-pound weight class as he expected. But the 8-2 win failed to eliminate the sour taste that remains from last week's 3-1 overtime loss in the WPIAL finals.
McCutcheon improved to 35-1 after he topped Bald Eagle Area senior Aaron Varner. He'll look to add another win when he grapples with Council Rock South senior P.J. Steinmetz in the quarterfinals, which begin at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
“I'm building a fire right now,” McCutcheon said. “I need to push the pace more on my feet like the coaches have been telling me. I'm kind of sitting back right now, and I need to attack more.”
Unbeaten junior heavyweight Shane Kuhn, meanwhile, extended his season win streak to 39 by pinning Altoona senior Austin Rosenberry late in the first period of their opening-round bout.
Kuhn will wrestle Warwick senior Tom Devenney in the quarterfinals.