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Burrell sends 4 to PIAA semifinals

| Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, 10:00 p.m.
Eric Schmadel | For the Tribune-Review
Kittanning senior Jason Nolf works to turn South Fayette junior Brett Beltz during their 145-pound PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional Wrestling Tournament quarterfinal bout on February 28, 2014, at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown.

Burrell junior heavyweight Al Beattie advanced to the semifinals of the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional Championships without wrestling for even a second Friday at Cambria County War Memorial.

J.R. Andrejcik, a Burrell senior 132-pounder, upset a 2013 PIAA finalist in his quarterfinal-round bout.

And Bucs senior 145-pounder Corey Falleroni, a third-place finisher in the WPIAL, toppled District 5 champion Trent Crouse of Chestnut Ridge to earn his spot in the semifinals.

The banner day for Burrell was strange and surprising at times, but more than anything else, it satisfied the Bucs, who had a WPIAL-best four semifinalists by the time the heavyweight class wrapped up and were tied with Huntingdon for first in the team point standings with 41.

Semifinals and third-round consolation bouts begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.

In addition to Beattie, Andrejcik and Falleroni, senior Steve Edwards, the No. 1 seed at 152 pounds, advanced in a bracket that features three WPIAL wrestlers in the semifinals — Highlands' Nolan Wise and South Fayette's Grant Fetchet are the other two.

“We're trying to keep the family together as long as we can,” Falleroni said. “We live off of each other. We cheer for each other. That's what gets us through matches.”

Falleroni's third-place finish in last week's WPIAL Championships disappointed him. But the sting of that outcome paled in comparison to what he experienced during his junior season, when academic ineligibility forced him to scratch from the WPIAL tournament and miss the rest of the postseason.

“I don't want that to happen again,” said Falleroni, who noted that his grades improved considerably. “It left a terrible feeling in my stomach.”

Andrejcik is no stranger to stomach pains, as he has dealt with weight management issues and hunger-based fatigue during the latter half of this season. But he found enough energy to stun Bedford senior Ryan Easter, 2-1, in the tiebreaker portion of overtime during their quarterfinal match.

An unconventional tactic helped. Andrejcik wrestled most of the bout on his knees.

“I get tired, and as I get tired, my (stance) comes up,” he said. “If I stay on my knee and get tired, I come right back into perfect stance position, so I've been trying to do it a lot lately.”

While Andrejcik and Falleroni were all smiles after their quarterfinal-round wins, Beattie, a returning champion, walked off the mat with a borderline scowl. As the No. 1 seed in his weight class, Beattie received a first-round bye, so he knew he'd wrestle less than most Friday. But after his quarterfinal-round opponent, West Branch's Morgan Selepack, forfeited because of an injury suffered in a first-round bout, Beattie questioned whether his route to the semifinals did more harm than good.

“I'm pretty upset about it,” said Beattie, who beat Selepack, a 2013 PIAA placewinner, in the regional finals last season. “The kids are all good here, and I need tough matches to help me. This is weird. I didn't expect this at all.”

Four WPIAL wrestlers remained unbeaten on their way to semifinal berths.

•Kittanning senior 145-pounder Jason Nolf (38-0), one of the Wildcats' two semifinalists, will try to become the fifth wrestler in PIAA Class AA history to claim four Southwest Region titles.

•Senior 126-pounder John Demaske (38-0) is one of Jefferson-Morgan's three semifinalists.

• Sophomore 132-pounder Mike Carr (38-0) is one of South Fayette's three semifinalists.

•Avella senior 220-pounder Jake Temple (37-0) is on track to repeat as a regional champ.

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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