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BVA's Hasson named to Dapper Dan team

| Thursday, March 13, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Belle Vernon Area's Brendan Hasson (top) was named to participate in the prestigious Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic at the Fitzgerald Field House.

Belle Vernon Area senior Brendan Hasson became the fourth wrestler in school history to make the Dapper Dan Classic WPIAL team wrestling roster, but not without a bit of drama.

Hasson, the WPIAL runner-up and seventh-place PIAA finisher at 120 pounds, was originally left off of the roster in favor of Mt. Lebanon's Kevin Kinyua.

“I was pretty upset when I first heard that I didn't make the team,” Hasson said. “They released the original roster in the morning, but then around 6 p.m. I got a call from (Dapper Dan committee member) Phil Mary and he told me I was on the team. I was pretty relieved; it's a great honor to wrestle in the Dapper Dan and something that I had always wanted to do.”

The Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic will be held Sunday at Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House.

Kinyua defeated Hasson in the Section 2 finals, but placed third at the WPIAL tournament and failed to place at states. The selection committee originally made the selection of Kinyua based on his win over Hasson at sections — instead of the normal criteria of highest WPIAL/PIAA finishes — before it was brought to their attention that Hasson had defeated Kinyua earlier in the season, making them 1-1 against each other.

The committee then made the decision to invite Hasson instead of Kinyua.

“While I am happy they got it right in the end by adding Brendan to the team, I also feel bad for Kinyua,” BVA coach Tyler Nauman said. “I've coached Kevin and got to know Kevin through Pittsburgh Wrestling Club. In my heart, I know that they made the right decision adding Brendan to the team, because he should have been on the team in the first place. But they already had asked Kevin and it felt wrong to just uninvited him. I wish they would have found a way to keep both of them on the team.”

Hasson, a Drexel recruit with a career record of 121-43, will face Jacob Findley from Collinsville High School (Oklahoma).

“I don't know much about him other than he as a 5A state finalist in Oklahoma,” Hasson said. “And the Dapper Dan website says his career record was 89-31.”

The Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic, dubbed the “Rose Bowl of Wrestling,” is an annual all-star event held at the University of Pittsburgh's Fitzgerald Field House that pits a team of top WPIAL senior wrestlers against a team of top wrestlers from another state — Oklahoma this year — before a match between the Pennsylvania All-Stars and a team comprised of the top wrestlers across the country. The Dapper Dan is considered the top high school wrestling all-star event and is currently in its 40th year.

Hasson's coaches, Nauman and Jason Weslager, are well acquainted with the event. BVA grad Weslager wrestled for the WPIAL against New York in 2005, while Nauman wrestled for the Pennsylvania team in 2007 following his senior season at Middletown.

“I'm pretty happy for Brendan and happy to say that he was my first state place winner and Dapper Dan participant as a head coach,” BVA coach Tyler Nauman said. “Brendan got stuck in a couple ridiculous brackets at the WPIAL tournament over his career, but it paid off his senior year. He was put into a position to succeed and he did just that and then followed it up by getting on the podium at states.

“This is a nice little recognition and reward for all the hard work he has put in. The Dapper Dan is a great event and I'm happy that he gets to experience it.”

Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer.

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