Gateway’s Whiteside looks to build of solid finish at Allegheny County tournament
It didn’t take Evan Whiteside long to dispatch his first opponent at the recent Allegheny County Wrestling Tournament.
The Gateway junior 113-pounder pinned Bethel Park sophomore Kevin Collins in 38 seconds.
It started Whiteside on a five-match journey Jan. 18 and 19 at Fox Chapel that would lead to his second medal at the annual gathering of the county’s best.
He placed seventh to add to his sixth-place medal he earned last year.
“I didn’t place as high as I wanted, but I’m glad I had my mistakes now instead of later,” Whiteside said. “That way, I can work on eliminating them and be ready to perform at my maximum capacity in the postseason tournaments.”
Whiteside, 17-7 overall, came close to scoring a quarterfinal victory over North Allegheny’s Brad Stipetich, but the Tigers sophomore came away with a 3-2 win, sending Whiteside to the consolation bracket.
Whiteside went 2-1 the rest of the way. He bounced back from a 4-2 loss to Moon freshman Khyvon Grace in the consolation quarterfinals to record a decisive pin (2:23) in his seventh-place bout.
“I think I wrestled pretty well,” Whiteside said. “I just have to work on some things such as situational wrestling. I was on the attack the whole match (against Stipetich), and I didn’t need to be.”
Gateway coach Ryan Sula said Whiteside showed at the tournament he is on track to do well in the postseason.
“The matches he lost were really close,” Sula said. “I thought he easily could’ve been in the finals the way he was wrestling. He just wasn’t able to finish off his quarterfinal match. He lost in the last 30 seconds. He was disappointed about that, but I thought he did a good job both days.”
Whiteside’s focus now is getting to the WPIAL championships, a goal that eluded him at the Section 1 tournament last season.
“Evan’s in a good spot. He’s starting to hit his stride. He likes to score points, dictate the pace and make matches exciting,” Sula said. “He got a better understanding at the tournament that when he’s wrestling some better kids, he’s going to have to be able to win those 2-1 or 4-3 type matches.”
Nevin Matthews and Bryce Washington came close to earning medals at the county tournament, but both lost one-point consolation decisions on the cusp of clinching a spot in a placement match.
Washington, a senior at 220 pounds, won three of his five matches. He lost his first-round match, but won three straight in the consolation bracket before falling 6-5 to Fox Chapel junior Ed Farrell in the fourth round of consolations.
Washington, who missed last season because of a knee injury suffered on the football field, enters February with an 11-11 record.
Matthews, a senior at 182 pounds, scored a third-period fall in his first-round match but came up short in his bid to advance to the semifinals.
West Mifflin senior Nico Cardamone then edged Matthews, 7-6, in the third round of consolations to deny his bid for a medal. Matthews is 9-5.
“They both wrestled well and easily could’ve placed,” Sula said.
Washington was one of several wrestlers who competed five times on the first day of the tournament. Officials moved two rounds from Saturday to Friday in response to predicted bad weather and brought back only eight Saturday in each weight class instead of the normal 16.
Sula said several Gateway wrestlers who won at the county tournament and others in the lineup are hoping for good things Saturday at the Penn-Trafford Winter Warrior Tournament.
The format is round-robin, and with 10 teams and an expected average of seven to eight wrestlers in each weight class, the plan is for each wrestler to compete five times throughout the day.
“In a regular dual tournament, someone could get a couple of forfeits and sit for long periods of time before they get to wrestle again,” Sula said. “This assures each wrestler gets a good amount of competition. That’s what we want at this point in the season.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at [email protected] or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.