PG North: Martellotti leads impressive Shady Side run at Powerade Tournament

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Talk about a class with class ...

That was certainly evident in the 130-pound weight class at the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament. In all 10 state champions competed at the Powerade and of those 10, four were entered in the 130-pound weight class.

"I try not to worry about who is in my weight class," said Shady Side Academy junior Frank Martellotti, who claimed his first Powerade title with back-to-back wins against former PIAA champions. "I just took it one match at a time and that led me to the finals."

Martellotti won the PIAA Class AA 103-pound title as a freshman and finished third in the state last year at 112 pounds, but was seeded fourth in the 36-man 130-pound bracket at Powerade.

The top seed was Blue Mountain senior Cortland Choate, who claimed the PIAA Class AAA title at 125-pounds last season. Parkersburg junior Jordon Nolan, a two-time West Virginia state champion, was seeded third. South Side Beaver senior John Prezzia, a PIAA Class AA champion in 2006 who has battled knee and shoulder injuries the past two years, was unseeded.

"Choate was in my bracket at the [Walsh] Ironman Tournament [in Ohio] at the start of the season and he did better than I did," said Martellotti, who placed eighth at the Ironman, while Choate finished sixth.

"I tried not to give him too much respect and that strategy worked. That was my toughest match of the tournament."

Martellotti faced Choate in the Powerade semifinals and posted a 3-1 victory.

Later that evening, Martellotti outlasted Prezzia in the title match. The match went into overtime, as regulation ended in a 1-1 tie, and Martellotti captured the victory and title with an escape 11 seconds into the third overtime period.

"I tried to get a takedown in the first overtime period, but [Prezzia] was real good on his feet," Martellotti said. "When we got to the second overtime, I knew I could hold him down and then get out [in the third overtime].

"The bottom position had been a weakness for me, but I've been working very hard on improving in that area."

Martellotti was the first of four Shady Side Academy wrestlers who made an appearance in the Powerade Tournament finals. Indians teammates Dane Johnson and Matthew Cunningham were also champions, while Roman San Doval was a silver medalist.

Johnson claimed his second title with a 6-4 win in the 140-pound final against Hempfield's Jack Bachman.

"I made a few mistakes in the finals that I have to work on, but overall I'm happy with my performance," said Johnson, who is also a three-time WPIAL and two-time PIAA champion. "I just have to be more aggressive."

Johnson doesn't mind the brutal schedule Shady Side Academy had in December. The Indians opened their season at the Ironman Tournament, then had five matches at the Derry Duals, and capped the month at Powerade.

"I like wrestling in strong tournaments like Powerade and Ironman," Johnson said. "It really helps prepare us for the postseason tournaments."

Cunningham won the 160-pound title with a 10-5 win against Central Dauphin's Kenny Courts.

"I placed third last year after losing in the semifinals to [Belle Vernon's] Donnie Tasser," said Cunningham, referring to last year's 152-pound runner-up. "I was real nervous wrestling in this tournament last year. I was much more comfortable this year. I knew what to expect and felt I could win as long as I wrestled to my ability."

Cunningham recorded a pin and two technical falls en route to his title.

"This tournament is just as tough as the PIAA tournament," Cunningham said. "You get to wrestle Class AAA and AA kids, plus the kids from other states. It's a great tuneup for the postseason tournaments."

Cunningham and his Indians teammates were hoping for a clean sweep in the finals, but Roman San Doval dropped an 11-2 decision in his 189-pound title match with Central Dauphin's Tony Dallago.

"I would have been nice to have four champions, but I'm certainly not complaining," Shady Side Academy coach Tim Giel said. "We were the only team in the tournament that had three champs. That's something to be proud of."

Shady Side Academy finished second in the team standings with 172 points and had seven wrestlers place among the top eight in their weight classes. Central Dauphin accumulated 206.5 points, behind the strength of eight place-winners, to claim the team title.

"It would have been a much closer race if we had everybody in the lineup," said Martellotti, referring to the fact that Shady Side Academy had four starters out of the lineup. "I don't know if we could have caught Central Dauphin, but it would have been close."

Also placing for Shady Side were Geoff Alexander (third at 112), Nick Ciesielski (fifth at 285) and Phillip Elias (seventh at 125).


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