Belle Vernon grapplers enjoy strong Powerade tourney appearance

| Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Belle Vernon Area High School's first-time participation in the talent-laden Powerade Wrestling Tournament proved successful as well as an invaluable experience for the upcoming postseason.

Leading the Leopards' way in the 46-team field from seven different states was 160-pound sophomore Austin Bell, who placed fourth.

Bell reached the quarterfinals after pinning St. Vincent of Ohio's Steven Mileski in 4:14 and earning a 10-0 victory over Blue Mountain's Devon Krammes.

He was defeated, 15-9, in the quarterfinals by second-seeded Logan Surina of Eastern View (Va.) but won three of four consolation matches. After pinning Saegertown's (Md.) Garrett Zuver in 2:55, Bell defeated Benton's Jeric Kasunic, 3-2, and team champion Franklin Regional's Brandon Yant, 5-3, before losing the third-place match to Brookville's Brodie Zachert, 6-3.

Junior Patrick Mayernick, a 220-pound junior, was the lone Leopard to reach the semifinals and placed fifth.

He opened the tournament with pins over Austin Budd of Huntington (W.Va.) and Sean Hayden of Pope (Ga.) in 2:44 and 4:54, respectively. Mayernick reached the semifinals with a 7-5 decision over Chartiers Valley's Mike Roper before losing, 7-2, to eventual champion Omar Haddad of Parkland. In the consolations, Mayernick was pinned by Latrobe's Dylan Davis before earning fifth place by pinning Budd again, this time in 3:49.

Also finishing fifth was sophomore Mitch Hartman at 126 pounds. He reached the quarterfinals with an 11-0 victory over Brookville's Devin Joyner and a 1-0 decision over Bishop McDevitt's Terrence White before losing to eventual champion Dalton Macri of Canon-McMillan by technical fall (22-7) in the quarterfinals. His consolation began with 6-0 and 4-3 wins over Mifflinburg's Noah Kuba and Ripley's (W.Va.) Lucas Simpkins before he was pinned by Waynesburg's A.C. Headlee. For fifth place he bested White again, 2-0.

Senior Brendon Hasson, who won three of five matches at the 120-pound class, turned in another strong Belle Vernon showing at the tournament.

Earning 2-2 individual records for the Leopards were 113-pound freshman Tyler Seliga and 152-pound sophomore Derek Verkleeren.

Three Belle Vernon wrestlers who came home with one victory each from the Powerade event were 170-pound sophomore Milton Kobaly, 195-pound Billy Korber and 106-pound freshman Jacob Dunlop.

Other Belle Vernon wrestlers at Powerade included junior heavyweight Austin Sluk and sophomores Dylan Lundy (132 lbs.), Cameron Evans (138 lbs.) and Luke Durigon (145 lbs.).

With three medal winners and nine wrestlers overall earning at least one victory, Belle Vernon finished in a tie for 13th with Burrell in the team standings with 87 points.

In the junior varsity tournament held the day before the start of the two-day main tournament, Seliga, Evans and 220-pound Hunter Ferrara won individual titles.

Tournament director Frank Vulcano Jr., a 1980 Powerade champion himself for Chartiers-Houston at 185 pounds, praised Belle Vernon for making an impressive immediate impact.

“They accounted themselves very well and were certainly not intimidated at all by the atmosphere,” Vulcano Jr. said. “I believe this will help them gauge themselves as they move forward this season, and we hope this was the first year of many for the Leopards competing at Powerade.”

Franklin Regional became only the 22nd different team to win a Powerade Tournament team championship with 236.5 total points. The Panthers are also just the second WPIAL team to win the team title in the 2000s along with host Canon McMillan in 2010. Kennard Dale High School's 170-pound Chance Marsteller became just the tourney's fifth four-time champion while Macri was named Outstanding Wrestler.

Bruce Wald is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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