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Connellsville finishes 4th at Section 2-AAA tournament

| Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 11:12 p.m.

The problem for the Connellsville wrestling team wasn't that it finished fourth at the Section 2-AAA team championship.

The issue for the Falcons (15-6) is they knew they could do better.

“I know one thing after all the years I've been coaching,” Connellsville coach Tommy Dolde said, “it's that hard work equals success. That's something we all got to think about right now. It goes back to your training habits. It goes back to your eating habits. It goes back to your cardio. Both teams we wrestled (Wednesday) outworked us and were more intense than us.”

Connellsville lost to Peters Township, 32-29, in the semifinals and then fell to Mt. Lebanon, 43-25, in the consolation match.

Belle Vernon (12-2) won the title by defeating Peters Township, 40-27. The Leopards' Austin Bell got a pin at 170 to give his team a 19-18 lead. The win sparked a four-bout win streak to put the contest out of reach against the host Indians (11-2).

In the consolation match against Mt. Lebanon (10-5), the Falcons were in a deep hole early after losing the first three bouts by fall. The Falcons rallied to win four of the next five bouts, but the only pin came from Riley Eans at 160 pounds. Because pins count for twice as many points as a decision, Connellsville was not able to take a lead during its hot streak. Mt. Lebanon controlled the score the entire match.

“We just can't get down like that,” said 220-pounder Gunnar Lynch. “It's hard to come back from.”

In the semifinals, Connellsville won the first two matches, but the Indians (11-2) took the next four. The Falcons took the lead back late with Matt Butler's 10-7 win, but a loss at heavyweight coupled with a forfeit at 106 led to the loss.

The other semifinal saw Belle Vernon defeat Mt. Lebanon, 43-24.

The Falcons felt they gave away too many points and bouts.

“The team we see at practice did not show up to this match,” said 132-pounder Brenden Cooper. “Did not show up at all.”

The bright spot for the Falcons is the team is young and perhaps the rough night will serve as a wake-up call.

“This was a good test for our team to see where we're at and where we need to improve,” Lynch said. “We have a big junior class, so we can take this and learn from it and learn from our mistakes and keep working harder and get back here next year.”

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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