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Burrell rebounds from quarterfinal loss to stay alive in PIAA tournament

Paul Schofield
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Burrell’s AJ Corrado battles Saucon Valley’s Tom Spirk in the PIAA tournament Feb. 8, 2019, in Hershey.
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Paul Schofield | Tribune-Review
Burrell coach Josh Shields and Trent Valovchik watch a bout against Conneaut at the PIAA tournament Feb. 8, 2019, in Hershey.

HERSHEY — Burrell coach Josh Shields was eager to see how his team would respond after dropping a PIAA quarterfinal-round match it should have won Friday at the Giant Center.

Burrell, making its 16 th consecutive trip to the PIAA Class AA team tournament, failed to hold leads in two bouts and fell to Saucon Valley, 32-25, in the quarterfinals Friday morning.

Instead of getting two decision wins, the Bucs allowed a pin and a decision, which turned out to cost them a trip to the semifinals.

But Burrell came back strong in the consolation round, winning the first seven bouts and rolling to a 42-26 victory against District 10 runner-up Conneaut Area on Friday afternoon.

Burrell junior heavyweight Jacob Bell got Burrell off and running with pin of Evan Gerber, who moved up from 220 pounds.

Aaron Edwards followed with a pin at 106, Nick Salerno scored a major decision at 113, and Ian Oswalt got a pin at 120 as the Bucs grabbed a 22-0 lead.

They weren’t done. Trent Valovchik got a major decision at 126, and Bryan Gaul (132) and A.J. Corrado (138) followed with pins, leaving the Conneaut wrestlers and fans stunned.

“We knew starting at heavyweight we could jump out to a big lead, especially from 106 to 138,” Shields said. “We felt the heavyweight match would be a toss-up. We were unsure what they would do, and they bumped up their 220 pounder, and we got a fall.

“That got us started, and we rolled through the middle. Happy how we started, but not how we ended, we kind of hung on. Now we’re moving on.”

Burrell’s Austin Mele (170) also picked up a major decision to finish off Conneaut.

In their quarterfinal-round match, the Bucs got bonus points early — a major decision from Salerno and pins from Oswalt and Valovchik — to grab a 19-9 lead.

After A.J. Corrado defeated Thomas Spirk, 3-0, at 138 to push the lead to 22-12, Saucon Valley roared back to win the next three bouts, rallying in two, to take a 25-22 lead.

Saucon Valley freshman Ty Csenscits was trailing junior Noah Linderman, 1-0, at 152 when he hit a toss and pinned Linderman with one minute left in his match. That pin tied the score at 22.

Dante Mahaffey trailed Burrell freshman Dom Holmes, 1-0, and got a takedown with 10 seconds left for a 2-1 win.

“We had our opportunities, but we didn’t get enough bonus points,” Shields said. “The loss hurt, but I wanted to see what type of heart we had.

“We had some good efforts. Now we have to put that match behind us and come back and get third (place).”

Burrell will face District 6 champion Westmont Hilltop at 9 a.m. Saturday in the third round of the consolation bracket. The winner will advance to the fourth round of consolations at 11 a.m. The third-place match will be at 1 p.m.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.