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Sports

Scotties' trio has high expectations

| Saturday, Feb. 22, 2003

The Southmoreland wrestling team has relied on its top three weight classes to lead the Scotties all year, so it's no surprise that those same three wrestlers will represent the team at the WPIAL Class AA individual finals Saturday at Trinity High School.

Shane Datz (189), Steve Zubach (215) and Justin Poole (275) will make the trip to Trinity High School.

"Those are the ones I expected. I thought there might be a couple other ones that, if they had a real good day, they could qualify," Southmoreland coach Jon Banko said.

Datz and Poole, both juniors, head into districts as section champions, and Zubach, a sophomore, picked up a third place at sections to qualify.

"Shane pinned both of his kids in less than three minutes total," Banko said, noting that Poole did the same. "Steve won his first one, then he lost to the eventual champion in the third round. Then, he got a pin, and in the consolation finals for third, he beat (Jake Harr) from Mount Pleasant."

Banko said Zubach scored two points in the waning seconds of that bout to clinch the decision and make it to districts. According to Banko, Zubach's road to regionals is the toughest of the three.

"Steve has a tough match in the first round (against Brandon Palmer of Beth-Center)," Banko said. "But if he can get past him, I think he's got a shot at getting into the finals."

Banko explained that Zubach was wrestling injured when he lost to Palmer earlier in the season.

"I expect him to do a lot better against that kid," Banko said.

Banko said Datz and Poole are in about the same situation going into the tournament.

"Shane and Justin are both seeded first, so they're obviously favored to win. I would expect them both to be in the finals," he said.

Banko said Poole has dominated his weight class all season.

"He was the dominant 275-pounder in the district most of the year. I would expect him to be in the finals and have a pretty good shot to win," Banko said.

Datz was a state placewinner last season, and Banko expects him to continue his success at Saturday's individual finals.

"The third seed (Avella's Chas Rush) gave Shane his closest match all year," Banko said, adding that Datz still won a 3-0 decision in that bout. "I think Shane is so much further ahead that everyone else. He does a lot of things you can't teach him to do. He's strong, he's fast, and he has great mat awareness."

The top five wrestlers at Saturday's tournament will advance to the regional tournament.

Rankin can be reached at 724-626-3535.

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