Ligonier Valley wrestlers learn at regional tournament
After advancing to the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament, the experience level of four Ligonier Valley wrestlers caught up to them as they faced opponents who had double the amount of wrestling experience.
Three Rams — Dalton Clark, Ray Marsh and Carlos Chavez — finished in the top four of their weight classes at the District 6 tournament in late February. However, none of the Rams were able to win a match at the regionals competition earlier this month.
At the District 6 tournament, sophomore Clark (132) and junior Marsh (220) finished second in their weight classes. Clark lost in the championship bout to the No. 1 seed Huntingdon's Devon Green by pin 5:48 into the match.
“Dalton's season was up and down. He went through a lot during his sophomore year. He was able to put things together at districts,” coach Brain Matson said. “Whenever he got on the big stage, he seemed to lock up on us. He got pinned in the finals. He was a bit overwhelmed and nervous.”
Marsh, was pinned in 1:47 by No. 1 seed Reynold Maines from West Branch in the title match.
“At districts, it came together for (Marsh); he upset two kids as the sixth seed. He wrestled smart matches during districts,” Matson said. “He gets into a problem when he gets anxious. He wants to make things happen and force things when points aren't available. He needs to make sure he wrestles a little bit more conservative and he should have success with that.”
Senior Carlos Chavez, who missed two seasons with an elbow injury, finished fourth in the 106-pound weight class. Senior Dan Croyle, who finished fifth at districts, replaced Tyrone's Jason Schopp in the 138-pound weight class at the PIAA Southwest Regional.
Clark was pinned by Freedom's Dean Ward in 5:06 and a lost 4-0 decision to Avonworth's Darion Trimmer at regionals. Marsh lost to the eventual fourth-place finisher, South Allegheny's Seth Hitchens, and Ellwood City's Mike Sinclair.
“It was pretty cool. I just wanted to do better there,” Clark said. “I need to keep practicing to end up doing better next year.”
Chavez was pinned by Southmoreland's Cole Lambie and West Branch's Joseph Couteret. Croyle lost to the eventual fourth-place finisher, Chartiers-Houston's Richie McGinnis, and the fifth-place finisher, Jeannette's GioVonne Sanders.
Clark will be the centerpiece of the team next season as the Rams will look to rising freshmen to fill out the roster.
“It will help Dalton by motivating him and help him with his mental approach,” Matson said. “He goes out with the belief that he can win, and I want to get him to the point where he starts thinking that he will win and not have self doubt. I expect him to reach the regional tournament, and hopefully make it to states.”
Andrew John is a freelance writer.