TribLIVE

| Sports


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

West Mifflin wrestling coach finds positives in 12th-place finish

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Top high school sports
By Alex Oltmanns
Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, 10:27 p.m.
 

On the surface, the West Mifflin wrestling team's 12th-place finish at the Steve DeAugustino Classic might come across as a bit of a disappointment.

A further look, however, shows plenty of positive signs for the tournament's host team, one that was missing three wrestlers, including two of its best.

Missing from the Titans lineup because of illness and injury were 145-pounder Austin Bonacci, heavyweight Shawn Devey and Randy Wilson. But West Mifflin coach Tony Salopek was pleased with his team's effort in the tournament where Plum was crowned as the champions.

“The three that we were missing kind of hurt us, and if all of our guys that wrestled had similar results and we would've had those three guys, we probably would have finished real close to the top six, if not in the top six,” he said. “The guys that wrestled, they really did their job.”

West Mifflin's best individual finisher was senior Carter Shar (138) who came in fourth place after losing to Yough's Jason Strange in a 2-1 decision in the third-place match.

Shar, a four-year starter, showed signs of improvement earlier in the tournament when he defeated Upper St. Clair's Garrett Walnoha, an opponent who had beaten him several times.

“He's always been pretty solid, but he's starting right now to get over the hump, where he's starting to beat some kids he's lost to in the past,” Salopek said.

At 120, Titans senior Jeff Martinez scored an impressive 4-2 decision over top-seeded Cody Charles of Yough on his way to finishing eighth.

Martinez, in his first season as starter after backing up some of West Mifflin's top wrestlers in the past, is making the most of his opportunities as a senior.

“He is really coming around nicely,” Salopek said. “He's starting to put things together in those matches that he's getting. ... I think, as the season goes on and he gets more varsity matches under his belt, he's just going to keep getting better.”

According to Salopek, who cited that his team has struggled with depth in years past, the weekend also was encouraging as his team filled 12 of 14 weight classes despite missing three starters.

“A couple of our kids who would have been backups who wouldn't even have been wrestling in the tournament ended up winning a match or two,” he said. “We're not where we want to be but we're starting to have a little bit of depth.”

Sitting at 0-2 in WPIAL Section 2-AAA, West Mifflin, who finished the tournament with 77 points, is looking to build on the momentum it built in the tournament as section play continues this week.

“We're going in the right direction,” Salopek said. “It's just a matter of putting it all together here.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Wrestling

  1. Elizabeth Forward senior qualifies for PIAA tournament
  2. Kiski Area’s Worthing wins 2nd WPIAL Class AAA wrestling title
  3. Burrell heavyweight Beattie claims 3rd Class AA Southwest Regional title
  4. Ligonier Valley freshman Patrick carries on family tradition as Southwest Region champion
  5. Waynesburg senior Headlee defeats country’s top-ranked at 132 to claim WPIAL Class AAA title
  6. Kiski Area freshman Reid closes in on PIAA tournament berth
  7. Lower seeds take down 16 top-4 wrestlers on Day 2 at WPIAL championships
  8. Burgettstown senior seeks role reversal at Class AA regionals
  9. Connellsville’s Kenney wins, pushes toward state berth
  10. Kiski Area heavyweights advance to WPIAL Class AAA semifinals
  11. BVA, Ringgold wrestlers seeking WPIAL titles