Underclassmen play key role in helping Greensburg Salem to WPIAL tournament
On paper, a 10-3 record would seem to indicate a measure of dominance. However, in the exceptionally tough Section 1-AAA, the Greensburg Salem wrestling team's record was only good enough for fifth place.
For Greensburg Salem wrestling coach Randy Parsley, the difficulty of his team's schedule is not lost on him.
“Our section is probably the toughest in the state,” Parsley said. “Fourth or fifth place isn't bad at all for our section.”
Drawing the fifth seed meant tough sledding for the postseason. After earning a 51-18 win over McKeesport in the Section 1 fifth-place match, the Golden Lions lost a WPIAL first-round tilt against eventual third-place finisher North Allegheny.
Despite dropping their first-round match to the Tigers, 45-15, Parsley knows that wrestling against stout Section 1-AAA foes will only strengthen his team's resolve and help build a stronger outlook on the future of the program.
“The younger guys on the team don't take to the losing too kindly. They dominate in middle school, then get thrown right into the mix in high school and start out 0-2, 0-3,” Parsley said. “But we have a great wrestling history here in Greensburg Salem. The younger kids are starting to realize that and feel the tradition more. Now they're buying into the program.”
Boasting a roster loaded with young talent that is still growing, the Greensburg Salem wrestling team's best matches could be just ahead. Sophomores Chris Eddins, in the 113-pound weight class, and Derek Berberik, at 220 pounds, proved to be significant contributors.
Additionally, juniors Josh Armstrong, at 126 pounds, Zach Mattucci at 145, and Grant Slezak in the heavyweight division, helped to anchor crucial spots this season. Senior 182-pounder Zach Pasko, as well as junior grappler Austin Shaw have been credited for their leadership.
Like his coach, standout 132-pounder Austin Shaw sees their success as a solid foundation to build on.
“Our seniors have done a great job this season. But we're a very young team. We had a couple new kids pick it up and shock the rest of us this season,” Shaw said. “It's made it more fun for us, winning all these matches with such a young team.”
Even though the WPIAL wrestling team tournament has concluded, the Golden Lions can turn their attention to the individual postseason, which gets under way Feb. 22 with the section tournaments.
Parsley hopes that his wrestlers best efforts are yet to come.
“We're very proud of our team. We've worked hard all year,” he said. “We just have to continue to work hard, and the boys will keep buying in to what we're selling.”
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.