Alle-Kiski Valley high school wrestling notebook: Section title in sight for Burrell’s Gaul
Bryan Gaul spent much of the wrestling season on the sidelines because of a pair of injuries, one suffered at a preseason tournament and another at midseason.
But the Burrell senior can become a four-time individual Section 3-AA champion if he takes home the title at Friday’s tournament at Canon-McMillan, where he’s seeded second in the 132-pound weight class behind Derry’s Jason Baker.
Gaul pinned Carlynton’s Elias Ward for the 106-pound championship in 2016, beat South Fayette’s Colin Dunn by decision for the 113-pound title in 2017 and pinned Summit Academy’s Brady Sherlock for the 126-pound title last season.
A preseason hand injury kept Gaul out of the Eastern Area and King of the Mountain tournaments in December, but he returned for the Powerade Christmas Tournament.
Another injury at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament took him out of the lineup from early January to early February, but Gaul returned in time to help Burrell win the WPIAL Class AA team championship — its 13th in a row — and finish in the top six at the PIAA tournament. He went 6-1 with three pins in his matches in the WPIAL and PIAA tournaments.
“I was definitely ready to get back on the mat,” Gaul said. “I was a little nervous at first because I hadn’t wrestled in a while, but as soon as I got back out there, I knew what I had to do and I was ready to wrestle.”
The individual wrestling postseason is at hand as the Class AA section tournaments and WPIAL championships will take place Friday and Saturday at Canon-McMillan. Wrestlers from Burrell, Highlands, Riverview and Valley will compete in the Section 3-AA tournament. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the WPIAL tournament.
Class AA changed its individual postseason format for the second time in three seasons, and this season the first round of the WPIAL tournament will take place Friday night after the completion of the three section tournaments.
The previous two seasons, the WPIAL tournament took place entirely on Saturday after the section tournaments finished Friday. Before the WPIAL adopted that format, there was a weeklong gap between the section tournaments and WPIAL tournament.
Friday’s schedule will begin at 3 p.m. for the opening rounds of the section tournaments. The championship and consolation finals are scheduled to run from 7-9, with the opening round of the WPIAL tournament expected to begin around 9:30.
Action will resume Saturday with the WPIAL quarterfinals at 10 a.m., the semifinals at 12:20 p.m., the parade of champions at 4:50 and the championship and consolation finals at 5. The top seven finishers in each weight class advance to the PIAA Southwest Regional the following weekend at IUP.
Burrell coach Josh Shields said he prefers the new format to the one from the previous two seasons because it allows for full wrestle-backs, which will enable proper seeding for WPIAL wrestlers at the regional tournament.
“I like the fact that we can do true wrestle-backs,” Shields said. “You’ll get the true best one-through-seven kids. I like that.”
Shields said his one concern was the schedule, but he’ll wait to see how everything plays out before he makes a full judgment.
“Obviously, that’s kind of late (Friday),” he said.
Besides Gaul, several other Alle-Kiski Valley wrestlers are looking to continue section tournament success. Burrell senior Danny McCarthy and Valley senior David Schuffert can win their third titles, and Burrell’s A.J. Corrado, Ian Oswalt and Trent Valovchik and Valley’s Matt Ashbaugh have an opportunity to claim a second.
Oswalt and Corrado were seeded first at 120 and 138 pounds, respectively. Schuffert was seeded first at 285, with Ashbaugh first at 195 and Valley teammate Noah Hutcherson first at 170.
Valovchik and Oswalt also have WPIAL championships in their past: Valovchik won the 106-pound title in 2017, and Oswalt took the 113-pound class last season.
Marching on milestones
Not only did Kiski Area earn a top-three finish at the PIAA Class AAA team championships for the third consecutive season, but some of the Cavaliers’ individual wrestlers are getting more decorated by the match.
Junior Jack Blumer earned his 100th career victory with a 7-2 decision over Council Rock South’s Matt Colajezzi in the PIAA third-place match Saturday. He joined classmate Nick Delp as Kiski Area wrestlers to reach the century mark this season; Delp accomplished it during the WPIAL team tournament.
Meanwhile, seniors Darren Miller and Cam Connor are getting closer and closer to establishing themselves as the winningest wrestlers in school history.
Noah Levett, who graduated after last season, holds the record of 159; in the final match of his high school career, he broke Matt McCutcheon’s mark of 158.
Miller, a Bucknell recruit, has 154 career wins after the PIAA team tournament. Connor, a Pennsylvania recruit, has 152. With the WPIAL Class AAA individual postseason beginning next week, both will have ample opportunity to set the standard.
Valley senior David Schuffert came seconds away from a WPIAL Class AA individual championship last season, falling in overtime of the heavyweight final to South Side Beaver’s Bishop McCoy.
Schuffert will get one final shot at personal redemption during the WPIAL individual championships as he figures to go in as the top seed at 285.
Marcus Davenport and Terrell Fields won WPIAL championships in 2014, the most recent Valley wrestlers to do so.
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at [email protected] or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.