WPIAL teams brace for playoffs


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The wrestling postseason officially begins Wednesday, as the WPIAL will hold seven section tournaments to determine seeding for the upcoming WPIAL team tournaments beginning Jan. 27. The top five teams from each section qualify for the WPIAL tournaments.

At each of the section tournaments, the first-place finisher from each sub-section will wrestle the second-place team from the other sub-section. The two winners face off to determine the section champion and the two losers wrestle for third place. A match between the two third-place teams will determine the fifth participant.

The Class AAA section tournaments will be held at Latrobe (Section 1), Peters Township (Section 2), Plum (Section 3) and Montour (Section 4).

The Class AA tournaments will be held at Burgettstown (Section 1), Derry (Section 2) and Burrell (Section 3).

This year is the sixth the WPIAL has held section team tournaments. Only two teams have won five consecutive section titles: Canon-McMillan and Burrell. North Allegheny has won four section titles.

Excited hosts

Latrobe is expecting a full house for the Section 1 tournament. The No. 2-ranked Wildcats (8-0) play host to No. 4 Kiski Area (13-1) in one semifinal, and top-ranked Franklin Regional (8-1) faces No. 9 Hempfield (4-1) in the other with both matches starting at 6 p.m. Franklin Regional is the defending Section 1 champion.

"We have the strongest section in the state," Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine said. "We have three of the top four teams in the [WPIAL Class AAA] rankings and five of the top 10."

In Class AAA Section 3, Plum (11-0) will play host to Butler (8-3) in one semifinal, and defending section champ North Allegheny (8-0) wrestles North Hills (6-6) in the other.

"It's a big honor to host the section tournament," Plum coach Mike Supak said. "North Allegheny is obviously the team to beat. We have a tough first-round opponent in Butler."

Non-WPIAL action

The City League playoffs begin Friday. Regular-season champion Carrick (5-0) plays host to Perry (2-3) at 6 p.m. in one match, and Allderdice (4-1) plays host to Brashear (3-2) in the other. The two winners will meet in the championship Jan. 30 at a site to be determined.

Raiders raid weekend event

Seneca Valley claimed the team title at the Burgettstown tournament over the weekend. The Raiders had 10 wrestlers earn place-winner status by finishing among the top six in their weight class, including three champions and one runner-up.

Alex Lynch, Anthony Latess and Austin Leon won titles for the Raiders, while Ben Lynch finished second.

Alex Lynch claimed the 106-pound title with a 5-0 win against Danny Florentino of Peters Township. Latess won at 132 with a 14-1 major decision of Avella's Sean Meredith. Leon claimed the 152-pound title with a 9-6 win against Beth-Center's Jason Stay. Ben Lynch was pinned in the 113-pound final by Burgettstown's Austin McDermitt.

Peters Township finished second in the team standings but had the most champions. Italo Merante (138), Michael McAleavey (160), Mitch Fitzgerald (182) and Lukas Cervenak (285) won titles for the Indians.

Looking ahead

The WPIAL individual section tournaments in Class AA will be Feb. 15. Chartiers-Houston (Section 1), Charleroi (Section 2) and Avonworth (Section 3) will host the three qualifiers.

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 Feb. 21-22 at Chartiers Valley. The Class AAA WPIAL/Southwest regional will be held Feb. 27-March 1 at Canon-McMillan.

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

Annual showcase

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 in the feature match at 6 p.m. A team of WPIAL all-stars will face the Oklahoma all-stars in the preliminary match at 4 p.m.

The Classic is produced and sponsored by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Dapper Dan Charities and local volunteers. Proceeds 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 event or to order tickets, visit www.wrestlingclassic.com.

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