Ian Oswalt didn’t think he wrestled his best in his final match at the WPIAL Class AA championships, but even a ‘B’ performance earned him an ‘A’ result.
The Burrell sophomore won an individual championship for a second consecutive season, beating Beth-Center’s Jimmy Gwyer, 1-0, in the 120-pound final Saturday evening at Canon-McMillan.
“It feels pretty good,” Oswalt said. “I wish I would have wrestled better in the last match. I really wanted to score bonus points on that kid, but I was trying everything I could, and it just wasn’t working.”
Wrestling the defensive-minded Gwyer for the first time, Oswalt couldn’t land any shots for a takedown but used a third-period escape to secure the win. He moves on to next weekend’s PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament at IUP as the top-seeded wrestler from the WPIAL. Oswalt pinned his first two opponents in the tournament.
“I think I wrestled pretty well this tournament, but I think I can work on moving on my feet more and shooting more offensive attacks, score more points,” Oswalt said. “Winning that match, 1-0, wasn’t what I wanted to do. I tried to dominate through the tournament, and I didn’t really dominate that last match. I think I’ve just got to keep the train rolling, just move it on all the way through states.”
Oswalt left Canon-McMillan as the only champion from the Alle-Kiski Valley, but Burrell freshman Nick Salerno (113 pounds) and sophomore A.J. Corrado (138) finished as runners-up, as did Valley seniors Noah Hutcherson (170) and David Schuffert (285).
Of the 28 wrestlers who competed in the finals, Salerno was the only one who didn’t have a first-round bye. The freshman won a first-round match Friday night, then quarterfinal and semifinal tilts to set up a rematch with Section 3-AA rival Ryan Michaels of Elizabeth Forward in the championship bout.
Michaels, who beat Salerno by decision in the section championship match Friday, pinned him late in the third period Saturday.
“It was a hard bracket,” Salerno said. “I wrestled not on my game in the finals. I thought I could do better, but it comes down to I’ve been wrestling for him for so long, even when I was in junior high and stuff. I’ll see him again.”
Corrado won his quarterfinal and semifinal matches to get to the 138-pound final against Hopewell’s Jacob Ealy, who scored an 11-0 major decision. Ealy was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.
Schuffert was seeking his first WPIAL title but instead finished as runner-up for the third consecutive season at heavyweight. He tweaked his knee early in the second period against Burgettstown’s Riley Kemper, then got pinned later in the period.
“It was quick,” said Schuffert, who won by pin and decision in his first two matches Saturday. “I had a bad knee, and he just twisted it and I felt it pop. That’s not an excuse, but I’m still stunned by it. I’m in shock.”
Hutcherson got two pins Saturday to reach the finals for the first time, where he met McGuffey’s Christian Clutter, a two-time WPIAL champion. Clutter won by 11-0 major decision.
“Noah, I think he wrestled an unbelievable two days,” Valley coach Dane Johnson said. “He went up against an extremely tough opponent. We knew that. I think he can take everything he did up until that match, build on it. That match can help him adjust things he needs to work on going into next week.”
The top seven wrestlers in each weight class qualified for the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional next weekend at IUP.
Burrell advanced 10 wrestlers to the regional tournament: Oswalt, Salerno, Corrado, Shawn Szymanski (106), Trent Valovchik (126), Bryan Gaul (132), Noah Linderman (152), Austin Mele (160), Ricky Feroce (182) and Zach Rupert (195). Gaul finished fourth. Szymanski and Ferocewere fifth. Mele was sixth, and Valovchik, Linderman and Rupert seventh.
Mele suffered an ankle injury late in his semifinal match against Quaker Valley’s Patrick Cutchember and was forced to default out of that bout, a consolation bout and the fifth-place match.
“Overall, a solid effort,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said. “A couple of guys could have finished higher on the podium, but it was solid competition this week. Guys wrestled hard. We’ll make some adjustments and get back to work on Monday for next weekend. That’s the big weekend.”
Valley will send Travis Lasko, who finished fifth at 120 pounds, to the regional tournament along with Hutcherson and Schuffert. Highlands’ Blake Clark also qualified after placing fifth at 138.