Burrell routs Kittanning in Shields' coaching debut
The hearts of both Anthony Marra and Josh Shields raced a bit Wednesday as the 7 p.m. start time of Burrell wrestling's season-opening match at home against Kittanning approached.
Shields, a former Bucs assistant, awaited the start of his first official competition as Burrell's coach.
Marra, meanwhile, counted down the minutes until his varsity debut as a freshman 126-pounder.
When the time came for both to step into the spotlight, the new coach and the new face in the lineup enjoyed the moment and made sure Burrell remained Section 3-AA's frontrunner.
The seven-time WPIAL Class AA defending champion Bucs (1-0, 1-0) won nine of 12 contested weight classes during a 50-22 victory over the Wildcats (0-1, 0-1), who trailed 35-6 but closed the gap when the heavier weight classes arrived.
Marra set the tone for the night with a pin in the match's opening bout, as he turned a close contest into a bonus-point result by scoring a takedown and then pinning junior Brody Trumbull with 8 seconds left in the third period.
“I was getting butterflies, and it was just crazy,” said Marra, whose older brother, Phil, placed fourth in the PIAA last year as a senior. “Everybody told me I was going to get a pin, so that brought up my confidence. I also felt like I had to. I wish I'd done better in the first period, but it all came out good in the end.”
Marra scored a takedown with 8 seconds left in the first period to take a 2-0 lead and then rode Trumbull for the entire second period. Trumbull controlled Marra for most of the third period, but the freshman earned an escape with 19 seconds left and then went on the offensive to extend his lead and eventually secure the pin.
First-period pins by seniors J.R. Andrejcik (132 pounds), Corey Falleroni (152), Steven Edwards (160) and a 20-5 technical fall by senior Nick Pattock (182) gave Burrell a commanding lead.
Senior Jason Nolf (145), a Penn State recruit, provided Kittanning its only points through eight matches, as he pinned sophomore Jason David late in the second period.
Nolf's victory moved him into a tie with Chamie Hooks for Kittanning's all-time wins record of 137 — Hooks finished his career 137-11, and Nolf is 137-1.
Sophomore Jacob Robb (195) scored eight points in the third period during his 15-1 win, and junior Logan Robb (220) secured a pin with 10 seconds left in the first period of his bout.
Kittanning coach Brandon Newill expressed displeasure with his team.
“We know exactly who they (Burrell) are, and we know what we need to do, but we don't do it,” said Newill, who declined to explain further.
Another Burrell freshman, Dillan Jeffery, helped close out the night. The 113-pounder recorded a second-period pin in his varsity debut to conclude the match's final contested weight class; Burrell junior Jason Roberts accepted a forfeit win at 120 to end the match.
“I'm glad the first one is out of the way,” Shields said. “I was slightly nervous. Kittanning is a great team, and as you know, I'm used to wrestling, and you control that. As a coach, you depend on 14 kids, and you never know. So I'm glad the kids really showed up tonight.”