Connellsville wrestling routed by Latrobe in opener
If the Connellsville wrestling team was using Friday's nonsection home match against Latrobe as a measuring stick, then the Falcons fell well short of expectations.
Latrobe, considered by many to be one of the top Class AAA teams in the WPIAL this season, won 11 of 14 matches on its way to a convincing 49-15 victory over the Falcons (0-1) in the season opener.
“I think we're better than that,” Connellsville coach Tommy Dolde said. “We had a guy not make weight, and that messed up our lineup. They were in better shape than us, and we know we have a lot of work to do.”
The Wildcats (1-0) set the tone early, winning five of the first six matches. Matt Luken (106 pounds) got it started with a major decision. Connellsville's Tyler Kenney (113) received a forfeit, but Latrobe took control by winning the next four bouts.
Luke Pletcher (120) scored a technical fall before Joel Cawoski (126) earned a decision. A pin by Ethan Stas (132) was followed by a major decision for Jake Willochell (138) to give Latrobe a 22-6 advantage.
“The guys performed pretty nice,” Latrobe coach Tad Harbert said. “Coach Dolde always has a wonderful team, and they put it on us last season. Bonus points were the key in that match, and they were a big part of this match tonight.”
Harbert noted the individual efforts of Cawoski and Stas as early highlights that helped the Wildcats settle into a rhythm.
Connellsville's Chase Cramer (145) scored a decision to stop Latrobe's run, but the Wildcats' Jake Shaffer (152) and Dom Scalise (160) followed with a decision and a pin, respectively.
Connellsville's last win of the match came at 170 as Dale Provance scored a first-period fall for the Falcons' most impressive effort of the night.
The Wildcats sealed the match with four straight wins. Justin Short (182) won on a major decision before Zack Zavatsky (195) recorded a technical fall. Travis Schmeling (220) won on a decision, and Tyler Mears (285) capped it with a pin.
“Our momentum built, and when we got to Scalise, Shaffer and Zavatsky, we had things clicking,” Harbert said. “They are a little banged up, and we're a little banged up, but the guys that stepped in did a great job. We've worked hard in the room, and it showed.”
For the Falcons, it was an unsatisfying start, but Dolde understands it's a long season.
“I'm not saying we would beat them if we wrestled them again, but I'd love to wrestle them in January,” Dolde said. “That's coaching. We have to coach them up. We're nowhere close to where we need to be.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at email@example.com.