No. 1 Burrell wrestles ‘complete’ match en route to WPIAL quarterfinal victory
Something about late January and early February brings out the best in Burrell. As the weather grows colder, the Bucs get even hotter, and that proved true again Wednesday.
Class AA No. 1 Burrell rolled to the WPIAL semifinals for a 17th consecutive season with a dominant 58-16 victory over McGuffey in a quarterfinal match at Burrell.
The Bucs, 12-time defending WPIAL champions, will try to make it 13 Saturday at Chartiers-Houston. They’ll face No. 4 Beth-Center in the semifinals at noon, with the winner advancing to the championship match against either No. 3 Quaker Valley or No. 7 Freedom at 2 p.m.
“I think we wrestled a pretty complete match,” said junior Trent Valovchik, whose 24-second pin at 132 pounds was one of four falls the Bucs registered in the victory. “The score will show for itself: It was a lot to a little. I think we wrestled pretty well tonight.”
Burrell (8-2) picked up bonus points in five matchups, including pins by Valovchik, A.J. Corrado (138 pounds), Austin Mele (160) and Jacob Bell (285). Ricky Feroce won by major decision at 195, and the Bucs also won four bouts by forfeit.
“It was a complete dual meet, really top to bottom,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said. “Guys came out, wrestled hard. I thought the guys had a good warmup beforehand and really came out there to do their job.”
McGuffey advanced to the quarterfinals with a 43-30 win over Keystone Oaks earlier Wednesday evening, but the Highlanders ran into a buzzsaw in Burrell. The Bucs beat McGuffey in last season’s WPIAL semifinals.
In that match, Burrell needed to hold off a mid-match charge from McGuffey, but that proved less necessary Wednesday night — particularly with the way the Bucs are wrestling of late.
Coming off a second-place finish at the Thomas Chevrolet tournament in Bedford, Burrell is ramping up for its latest WPIAL title defense.
“It’s all how you finish,” sophomore Ian Oswalt said. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. I think if we (can) pick it up at the end of the season, then we do that.”
Burrell led 16-10 after five bouts, getting a pin from Mele in the opening match, a forfeit at 182 and Feroce’s major decision at 195. Christian Clutter won by major decision for McGuffey at 170, and Marshall Mounts tallied a pin at 220.
Then began a run of eight straight victories for Burrell: Bell’s pin at heavyweight, followed by three consecutive McGuffey forfeits.
Oswalt and Valovchik both wrestled up a weight class, filling in for injured 132-pounder Bryan Gaul, and both delivered victories. At 126 pounds, Oswalt beat McGuffey’s Jett Pattison, 3-1, in a marquee matchup, and Valovchik, also wrestling up, got his pin at 132.
“It’s a good luxury to have,” Shields said. “We’re not 100 percent right now, but we have guys we can fill in.”
A.J. Corrado added another pin for Burrell at 138 pounds, and Noah Linderman got a decision at 145 for Burrell’s final victory before McGuffey’s Ethan Barr closed the match with a pin.
“I think we hit our stride at Bedford,” Valovchik said. “We had 10 kids place, so we wrestled really well this weekend and just have to keep it going in the postseason. We’ve got to live up to what we’ve been doing for the past 12-some years. We just feel we’ve got to keep grinding and do what we do to continue the streak.”
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at [email protected] or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.