Burrell bolts to 13th consecutive section title by beating South Allegheny
The number 13 typically carries with it the stigma of misfortune.
When it comes to wrestling, however, Burrell doesn't usuually rely on abstract concepts like luck.
The Class AA No. 1 Bucs rolled to the Section 3-AA team championship — their 13th section crown in a row — by posting a 60-10 victory over South Allegheny in the title match Wednesday night at Burrell.
“By now, we've come to expect the section title,” senior Bubby Scherer said. “It's just another milestone for us on our way to states and WPIALs. It's just business.”
Burrell's run of section titles began in 2003-04, and the Bucs haven't lost a section match since the season before that, when current coach Josh Shields was a freshman on the team.
“These kids just keep the tradition going and building to it and making it stronger,” Shields said. “This whole team has a lot of pride. Whether a section title is on the line, whether it's a regular dual meet, whether it's a regular individual tournament — they know they're representing Burrell, and they know they've got to go out there and get the job done and wrestle to their maximum ability.”
Burrell's run of success goes beyond its section. The Bucs have also won the past nine WPIAL Class AA titles and will look to extend that streak to double digits when the playoffs begin next week.
After posting a 71-3 victory over Carlynton in the semifinals Wednesday evening, Burrell (8-5) set the tone early in its championship match against South Allegheny.
Senior Damon Greenwald, one of the Bucs' more experienced and reliable wrestlers, opened the match with an 11-5 decision over previously undefeated Noah Stoker in the 152-pound match.
South Allegheny (9-2) tied the score when Cody Jenkins recorded a late takedown to beat Shaun Gates at 160, but the Bucs took control after that.
Anthony Marra, Nico Barone, Alex Bellinotti, Scherer and Alex Moses posted pins — each in under a minute — to give Burrell a commanding lead it wouldn't relinquish. The Bucs won eight consecutive matches overall to turn a 3-3 tie into a 50-3 lead.
“It's a lot of energy,” said Marra, a junior. “Getting pins gives energy, and it makes everybody else confident.”
Burrell won 10 of the 13 contested bouts against South Allegheny and scored bonus points in all but one. Dan McCarthy and Dean Edwards also got pins, Bryan Gaul recorded a technical fall and Dillan Jeffrey won by major decision.
“That's what we always preach,” Shields said. “That's what wins championships. When you get guys on their back, you've got to pin them, when you're in position to get a major, you've got to get a major, and when you're in position to get a tech, you've got to get a tech. That's what wins championships, and that's what wins medals in Hershey.”
Jenkins, Jason Jones and Justo Hernandez won bouts for South Allegheny, with Hernandez's coming by major decision.
Burrell will open defense of its WPIAL title next week, with the date, time and opponent to be determined.
“(Winning the section) is definitely a huge confidence boost because we're going to see teams like South Allegheny and Carlynton — they're playoff teams,” Scherer said. “To know that we can go out there and dominate playoff teams, it's a huge boost to our psyche and gives us more added motivation going forward.”