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Connellsville wrestling team eager to compete at sectional tournament

| Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, 10:30 p.m.
Lori Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Brenden Cooper (standing) will be one of 12 Connellsville wrestlers who will be competing in the 2-AAA Sectionals on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, at Baldwin.

In the team portion of the season, the Connellsville wrestling team finished with a respectable 17-7 record. However, the Falcons struggled with two losses in the section tournament and lost in the first round of the WPIAL team playoffs.

But the Falcons were able to get some momentum with a 51-15 exhibition victory over Penn Hills last week.

“We had a long (layoff) from competition, and we wanted to put something in there to see where we were, and we were pleased,” Connellsville coach Tommy Dolde said.

The exhibition match against Penn Hills served as a catalyst for the Falcons as they prepare for the individual portion of the season, which begins Saturday with the 2-AAA Sectionals at Baldwin High School. Bouts begin at 9:30 a.m.

“It was good to get back on the mat, and I think we'll be ready,” Dolde said.

Falcons who will compete at the sectional tournament are Tyler Kenney (113), Gage Cramer (120), Brendan Cooper (132), Bryce Butler (138), William Bell (145), Brennan Wilson (152), Riley Eans (160), Dale Provance (170), Tommy Provance (182), Matt Butler (195), Gunnar Lynch (220) and Louis Mauro (285).

Of the 12 wrestlers who will compete, five have advanced through the sectional tournament before. Kenney, Bell, Dale Provance, Tommy Provance and Butler all have had success at sectionals.

According to Dolde, having that experience can be valuable.

“When the kids are seasoned, you don't have to tell them too much,” Dolde said.

For the seven wrestlers looking to advance through the sectional tournament for the first time, Dolde offered important advice.

“We just want them to focus on one match at a time,” Dolde said. “We don't want them to worry about seedings or the bracket or anything like that. Just don't look ahead.”

The top five wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the WPIAL Class AAA Championships/PIAA Southwest Regional from Feb. 27-March 1 at Canon-McMillan.

According to Dolde, the opportunity to have high representation in the next round is there for the taking.

“I think we could do really well,” Dolde said. “I think we can get everybody through to the next round.”

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