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Connellsville wrestlers remain afloat in tournament

| Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, 11:30 p.m.

Last year as a sophomore, Connellsville wrestler Tyler Kenney qualified for the Class AAA WPIAL/PIAA Southwest Regional Championships. However, a setback in the semifinal spelled trouble, and he never recovered in his bid to qualify for states.

On Saturday, Kenney, now a junior, will get another chance at success in the semifinals. Competing in the 113-pound weight class, Kenney beat Greensburg Salem's Chris Eddins, 3-2, in overtime of a quarterfinal bout Friday at the WPIAL/PIAA Southwest Regional Championships at Canon-McMillan.

“Going into the match, I knew he was a good wrestler, and I knew I had to wrestle him hard,” Kenney said. “I felt like he was wearing down more than me.”

Kenney scored an escape in overtime.

He then held Eddins down to secure the win.

“He was tough on top, but I think I made the right decisions,” Kenney said.

Kenney now turns his attention to North Allegheny freshman Luke Landefeld, his semifinal opponent.

A win will guarantee Kenney a spot in the championship bout and a trip to the PIAA championships next week at Giant Center in Hershey.

“I know a little bit about him (Landefeld),” Kenney said. “But I try not to look at stats. I'm just focused on going out and wrestling to the best of my ability.”

Tommy Provance (182) also competed in the quarterfinals, but his match didn't go as planned.

Provance dropped a 5-2 decision to Butler's Ryan Hannon. For Provance to advance to states, he'll have to take third place by fighting his way through the consolation bracket.

Provance will try to follow the leads of Bryce Butler (138) and Gunnar Lynch (220), both of whom scored consolation-round wins Friday to remain alive in the tournament.

“I have to keep on being on the offensive and keep wrestling,” Butler said.

“I have to come in (Saturday) and wrestle like I did (Friday) and hope for the best.”

Butler defeated Ringgold's Jake Gerard, 6-4. Next up is a second-round consolation match against Penn-Trafford's Michael Risnear.

Lynch also will be looking to ride positive momentum into Saturday. Lynch stayed alive thanks to a 3-2 decision over Mars' Alex Grosso. Lynch's second-round consolation opponent is Butler's Will Bortmas.

The Falcons' Gaige Cramer (120), Matt Butler (195) and Louis Mauro (285) were each eliminated after suffering losses in the consolation bracket.

Second-round consolations begin at 10:30 a.m., followed by the semifinals at noon. The consolation finals are set for 5:30 p.m., followed by the championship bouts at 7 p.m.

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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