Defending champ Nolf leads A-K Valley wrestlers into prestigious Powerade Tournament
Kittanning senior Jason Nolf must wait another few months to pursue the wrestling title he covets most — a third PIAA Class AA championship.
A second Powerade Christmas Tournament title might briefly satiate Nolf's craving for gold, though.
Nolf, a Penn State recruit with one loss in his high school career, headlines the Alle-Kiski Valley contingent of wrestlers competing in the 46-team event, which runs Friday and Saturday at Canon-McMillan. The Kittanning senior is one of seven defending champions in the tournament, which is rated as one the country's premier wrestling events and includes teams from all parts of the state as well as Georgia, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland.
Burrell, which graduated two-time Powerade champion Dakota DesLauriers, has two returning placewinners: junior heavyweight Al Beattie and senior 152-pounder Corey Falleroni.
“I love wrestling in tournaments against good kids because I think it prepares me more for the future,” said Nolf, who is ranked No. 2 among 145-pounders nationwide by Intermat and Flowrestling.
Nolf, who defeated eventual PIAA Class AAA champion Tyler Smith of Franklin Regional, 10-5, in the 132-pound finals last season, will compete in one of the tournament's deepest weight classes during his second go-round at Powerade.
Though Canon-McMillan senior Solomon Chishko, a defending PIAA Class AAA champion headed to Virginia Tech, will miss the tournament with a knee injury, the 145-pound weight class still includes several Division I-caliber standouts, including Father Judge senior Joey Galasso, a defending PIAA Class AAA champion committed to Cornell; Brookville senior Brock Zacherl, a PIAA Class AA placewinner bound for Clarion; and Franklin Regional junior Josh Maruca, a defending WPIAL Class AAA champion.
Burrell enters the tournament with hopes of continuing to have a presence in the finals. At least one Burrell wrestler has won a title each of the last three years, and a Buccaneer reached the championship match six of the last seven.
Falleroni and Beattie return to Powerade after placing eighth in their respective weight classes last season.
Beattie, an eventual WPIAL and PIAA Southwest Region Class AA champion, is less than two weeks removed from a title-winning performance at the King of the Mountain, another widely respected Pennsylvania tournament. He scored a takedown with less than a minute left in the third period to win the heavyweight title 4-2 over Mifflinburg senior Nazar Mironenko, a 2012 PIAA Class AA champion who's also wrestling at Powerade.
The heavyweight class likely also will include Solanco senior Thomas Haines, a three-time PIAA Class AAA champion.
“Once I won (King of the Mountain), I knew I could hang with these kids,” said Beattie, whose sophomore season ended with a disappointing 0-2 record at the PIAA tournament. “I knew that last year (at the PIAA tournament) was a mistake, and it should've never happened.”
Burrell senior 160-pounder Steven Edwards, a Pitt-Johnstown recruit and 2013 PIAA placewinner, also claimed a King of the Mountain title earlier this month. He hopes to add a Powerade medal to his collection.
“I know we have a bunch of guys who will be in the hunt for a title,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said. “They just need to show up and wrestle two hard days.”