Individual wrestling sectionals kick off this weekend

WRESTLING NOTEBOOK

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The crowning of Franklin Regional and Bethlehem Catholic Saturday as PIAA team tournament champions marked the end of the dual-meet season. Wrestlers from the WPIAL and City League can now look forward to the individual postseason tournaments, which begin Saturday with Class AA section qualifiers and the City League tournament.

Lineup sheets for Class AA teams must be submitted to the WPIAL no later than today. The WPIAL Wrestling Steering Committee will seed the tournaments Tuesday, then release the brackets Wednesday. The three tournaments will be Saturday with Chartiers-Houston (Section 1), Charleroi (Section 2) and Avonworth (Section 3) serving as hosts.

Two of the top wrestlers in Class AA will not participate this weekend due to injuries. Charleroi's Nick Gavazzi is out with a shoulder injury that has sidelined him most of the season, and South Side Beaver's Shane Gentry has been out with a torn labrum for the past month. Both will have surgery later this month.

Gavazzi, a Pitt recruit, is a two-time Section 2 champion, two-time WPIAL champion and two-time PIAA qualifier. He had a 6-0 record this season at 145 pounds and finishes his career with a 108-18 record.

Gentry is a three-time Section 1 champion, three-time WPIAL place-winner and two-time PIAA qualifier. He had a 9-1 record this season at 132 pounds. He finishes with a 128-29 career record.

"It's a real shame to see Shane's career end this way," said South Side Beaver coach Bear McCoy, adding that Gentry will have surgery Feb. 20. "He had a chance to be a three-time PIAA qualifier and two-time place-winner."

Section tournament tidbits

* With Gentry out of the picture, Chartiers-Houston's Rich McGinnis is the only entrant in Section 1 who has won two section titles. He claimed titles at 103 and 106 pounds as a freshman and sophomore, then placed third last year at 120 pounds. McGinnis, now competing at 138, is one of eight wrestlers in Section 1 who have won a title.

* The Section 2 tournament features Jefferson-Morgan's John Demaske, a three-time champion, and Southmoreland's Austin Griffiths, a two-time champ. Demaske returns at 126 after winning titles at 103, 113 and 126. Griffiths has moved to 113 after winning two titles at 106. Eight others in Section 2 have won at least one title.

* Kittanning's Jason Nolf is a three-time champ in Section 3, while Valley's Pat Dewitt and Burrell's Steven Edwards are two-time champs. Nolf, also a three-time WPIAL champ, has moved to 145 after winning titles at 103, 113 and 132. Dewitt won titles at 106 and 126 and returns at 126. Edwards has moved to 152 after winning titles at 132 and 138. Seven other entries in Section 3 have won at least one title.

They're on a roll

Nolf (31-0), Demaske (31-0) and Dewitt (30-0) are among five wrestlers who enter the Class AA section tournaments with an unblemished record. The other two are South Fayette's Michael Carr (31-0) and Avella's Jake Temple (29-0). Carr is competing at 132, while Temple is at 220.

In Class AAA there are nine unbeaten wrestlers, including three from Franklin Regional in Devin Brown (25-0 at 106 pounds), Spencer Lee (38-0 at 113) and Tyler Smith (27-0 at 132).

Latrobe has two unbeaten wrestlers in Luke Pletcher (32-0 at 120) and Zack Zavatsky (30-0 at 182).

The other four Class AAA wrestlers who have yet to lose are North Hills' Gage Curry (27-0 at 106), Montour's Cole Macek (26-0 at 195), Norwin's Drew Phipps (11-0 at 195) and Shaler's Benji Kane (10-0 at 285). Phipps and Kane have missed significant time with injuries.

City favorites

Allderdice senior Dorian Devaugh-Long has a chance to become a three-time City League champion Saturday at the individual tournament at Carrick High School. The tournament begins at 10 a.m. Devaugh-Long has won two titles at 113 pounds and returns at the same weight.

Devaugh-Long is one of three returning champions from Allderdice. Josh Zinkovsky and Cameron Jacobson are the other two. Zinkovsky returns at 126, while Jacobson is back at 152.

The only other returning champions in the City League are Brashear's Dalton Link and Perry's Darue Johnson. Link has moved up from 120 pounds to 132. Johnson returns at 132, which sets up a probable showdown with Link.

Looking ahead to Class AAA

The WPIAL individual section tournaments in Class AAA will be Feb. 22. The sites for the four tournaments are Gateway (Section 1), Baldwin (Section 2), Fox Chapel (Section 3) and Moon (Section 4).

The top five finishers in each weight class from each section advance to the WPIAL championships. The WPIAL Class AA tournament will be held Feb. 21-22 at Chartiers Valley. The Class AAA WPIAL/Southwest Regional will be Feb. 27-March 1 at Canon-McMillan.

The Class AA Southwest Region tournament will return Feb. 28-March 1 to Cambria County's War Memorial. The PIAA tournament, for Class AAA and AA, will be March 6-8 at Hershey's Giant Center.

Dapper Dan Classic

The Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic will be March 16 at Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House. The United States all-star team will face Pennsylvania's all-star team at 6 p.m. in the feature match. A team of WPIAL all-stars will face the Oklahoma all-stars at 4 p.m. in the preliminary match.

The Classic is produced and sponsored by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Dapper Dan Charities and local volunteers. Proceeds from the event support a youth wrestling program for inner-city children through the Dapper Dan Youth Sports Leagues at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania. The reserved seat ticket price is $15 and general admission is $10.

Tickets can be purchased at Wright Automotive Group on Route 19, Monroeville Chrysler Jeep, Canon-McMillan High School or by calling Dapper Dan Charities at 412-263-3850. For more information about the Classic or to order tickets, visit www.wrestlingclassic.com.


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