Kiski Area leaves WCCA tournament with 14 placewinners, seven finalists |
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Kiski Area’s Danny Starr, above, wrestles Greensburg Salem’s Tommy McChesney during the finals at the WCCA wrestling tournament Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 at Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville.

Kiski Area senior 170-pounder Brad Nagy stepped off the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament medal stand Saturday evening at Franklin Regional High School miserable because of the infection wreaking havoc on his sinuses. It robbed him of precious air during matches, including his title bout against Greensburg Salem’s Alec Shaw, which he lost, 10-1.

He cursed the illness for causing so many problems. But he cherished the presence of another bug in his system, one that helped him claim his first county medal.

Call it the Cavaliers’ Finalist Fever.

Paced by three WCCA champions and four other finalists, Kiski Area thumped the competition to claim its 10th team title and put a wrestler on the medal stand in all 14 weight classes, an achievement considered unprecedented by the organizers of the tournament, now in its 64th year.

Darren Miller (106 pounds), Dan Starr (195) and Isaac Reid (285) lived up to their roles as No. 1 seeds by finishing first.

Noah Levett (126), Cam Connor (138), Joey Blumer (145) and Nagy left as a runners-up.

Jared Curcio (sixth at 113), Matt Siszka (third at 120), Nick Delp (fourth at 152), Logan Pollick (fifth at 160), Vince Romano (third at 182), Jack Blumer (fourth at 132) and Tom Starr (third at 220) rounded out Kiski Area’s horde of hardware winners.

“To have winning surrounding you, it makes you want to win that much more and perform your best that much more,” Nagy said.

Kiski Area won the team title a season ago without claiming an individual championship. The Cavaliers entered Saturday with 11 wrestlers still in contention for titles, so they liked their chances of collecting gold this time.

Medal matches started at 132, so Dan Starr became the first grappler to break through in the title bout.

Just a couple of minutes after he left the mat, Starr watched his brother claim third with a 54-second pinfall.

“I think I’ve kind of got bragging rights over him,” Dan Starr said. “Just a little bit, though.”

On the back of Kiski Area apparel this season is the slogan, “Band of Brothers.”

Blood is just one bond among the Cavaliers.

“We don’t really compare each other,” said Dan Starr, who placed fourth at 152 a season ago. “We just kind of all band together. … I’m a little bit surprised by (the collective success). We really stepped up.”

Burrell responded with resilience one day after just two of its wrestlers qualified for the semifinals.

The Bucs ended up with eight medalists — fourth most among the teams — and finished as the top Class AA school in the tournament by a healthy margin.

Junior 145-pounder Corey Christie led Burrell with a third-place finish. Trent Valovchik (fifth at 106), Bryan Gaul (fifth at 113), Dillan Jeffrey (fifth at 126), Ethan Awes (fourth at 138), Shaun Gates (fifth at 152), Austin Mele (sixth at 160) and Zach Rupert (sixth at 170) aided the Bucs in their eighth-place finish among 17 teams.

“I feel like everybody not doing so great yesterday got people more hyped and ready to go today,” said Jeffrey, a senior and second-time medalist. “(These midseason tournaments) are definitely bringing us together and sharpening us. I think by the time WPIALs come around, we’ll be the sharpest tool in the shed.”

Valley sophomore heavyweight Dave Schuffert shifted from disappointed to determined in short order after a semifinal-round loss in the morning. He needed just nine seconds to pin his first consolation bracket opponent and then spent just 17 seconds on the mat before flattening his opponent in the third-place bout.

“My last match, I went berserk a little bit,” said Schuffert, who led his semifinal bout 2-0 before getting caught in a bad position that resulted in a second-period pinfall loss. “I went to stand up (in the semifinal), I caught his leg, and he just caught me. I wasn’t paying attention. I’ve still got two more years of this, so (third is) not too bad for only a sophomore.”

Before the start of the medal bouts, three Valley graduates — Jordan King, Janet Canady and Benjamin Sinicki — received scholarships from the WCCA.

Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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