Burrell edges South Fayette for 8th consecutive WPIAL Class AA team wrestling title
When Burrell's WPIAL Class AA team wrestling championship streak began in 2007, Dillan Jeffery had only recently reached the age where he could start rolling around the mat.
Now a freshman, Jeffery added his name to the list of Bucs who became title-match heroes Saturday at Chartiers Valley.
In the second-to-last bout of the WPIAL finals, Jeffery delivered a technical fall over Jasper Wolfe at 113 pounds that gave No. 1 seed Burrell the lead in its 34-28 win over No. 2 South Fayette (20-1).
The Bucs (11-3) clinched their eighth WPIAL title in a row when junior 120-pounder Jason Roberts — Burrell's hero a season ago — won the match's final bout. But it was Jeffery's resounding win against an opponent who beat him just one week ago that swung momentum decisively in Burrell's favor.
“When he beat me the first time, it just built a fire inside me,” said Jeffery, who lost to Wolfe, 9-5, at Bedford's Thomas Subaru Tournament on Jan. 25.
“I wanted to rip his arm off, basically. I was not losing this time. I feel like I had more of a chip on my shoulder this time. More rage, and more ready.”
The Bucs lifted Jeffery into the air as they posed for a team picture with the championship trophy.
A season ago, that honor went to Roberts, who wrestled the last contested bout in 2013, when Burrell beat South Fayette, 35-30. He handled the pressure just as well Saturday, when he defeated Kevin Chaussard, 7-1.
“This year, I thought it'd be different,” Roberts said. “I thought we'd just blow out South Fayette because we have a lot of good seniors.
“But coach always say to prepare for Murphy's Law. … Once some of the senior starters lost, I knew it might come down to Dillan and might come down to me.
“Whenever you're out there, and you know it's on you, there is no losing. You can't lose that streak. You can't lose it for your teammates.”
Burrell's streak — a WPIAL record — has involved four different coaches. Chris Como guided to wins in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Ryan Yates led the Bucs in 2010 and 2011.
Bud Sines coached in 2012 and 2013. And the dominance has continued this season under first-year coach Josh Shields, a 2006 Burrell grad.
“I drew it up 1,000 times, and that's never how I predicted the match would end,” Shields said. “But what I love about this team and the Burrell tradition in the past has always been that we just find a way to win. … You can't put matches like this on paper, because then you're just measuring records of kids. Us Burrell kids, we have something deep that most teams, I don't think they have it — and that's fight.”
South Fayette actually out-pinned Burrell, three to two, so the Lions would've won the match if it had come down to criteria. Grant Fetchet (160), Jack Previte (182) and Zach Walker (220) delivered the falls.
“The matchups pretty much went the way we were looking for,” South Fayette coach Rick Chaussard said. “We just didn't win the close matches. We lost three decisions that, if you rotate them, it's a different story.”
Burrell received pins from senior Steve Edwards (152 pounds) and junior Al Beattie (285), while freshman Anthony Marra opened the match with a technical fall.
“I want to keep the streak going into my senior year,” said Marra, whose brother, Phil, graduated in 2013.
“(Phil) kept on saying we were going to lose…I told him. ‘Phil, we're going to win. We're always the underdogs, even as the first seed.' And we pulled it out.”
Burrell and South Fayette, as well as third-place finisher Jefferson-Morgan, will enter the PIAA tournament.
Jefferson-Morgan beat Burgettstown, 45-22, in the consolation bout.