North Xtra: Butler wrestling turns tables, wins title

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The Butler Area High School wrestling team knows what it feels like to lose a tournament team title by the smallest of margins.

Now the Golden Tornado knows what it feels like to win a team title by the smallest margin.

Last season, Peters Township outscored Butler, 183-182.5, to win the Chartiers-Houston tournament title on the opening weekend of the season.

A similar scenario occured this past weekend at the same tournament, when five points separated the top three finishers. This time, Butler came out on top with a total of 185.5 points. South Fayette finished second with 185 and Peters Township was third with 180.5.

"It's kind of weird that we would lose by a half-point last year and then win by the same margin this year," Butler coach Scott Stoner said. "It's even stranger when you consider the fact that last year's team came into the season with much more experience. This year, we have so many kids in the lineup who are first-year starters."

With that in mind, Stoner was quite surprised to hear that his squad was in first place by 3.5 points heading into the medal round.

"Our performance in the consolation semifinals and consolation finals were the difference," Stoner said. "We won five of six bouts in the consolation semifinals."

Butler won only two of six matches in the consolation finals, but Stoner felt one of those winners gave the Golden Tornado the two points that clinched the team title.

"I always stress to the kids the importance of bonus points," said Stoner, referring to the fact that teams can earn bonus points for major decisions, technical falls and falls. "Cody Houston came up with a pin in the fifth-place match at 132 pounds. That gave us two team points.

"Cody had a comfortable lead and could have cruised to a victory, but he kept pushing the pace. He mentally broke the Chartiers Valley kid [Mark Tharp] and pinned him in the third period."

Houston was one of eight Butler wrestlers to finish among the top six in their weight classes.

The Golden Tornado had two individual champions, Connor Foust and Ryan Hannon. Foust won the 113-pound weight class title with a 2-0 victory against South Fayette's Kevin Chaussard. Hannon claimed the 182-pound title with a 4-3 win against Moon Area's Patrick Barcaskey.

"Hannon didn't wrestle in this tournament last year, because he got beat out by a teammate in a wrestle-off," Stoner said. "We had hoped to have him at 170 over the weekend, but his weight-loss plan didn't allow him to drop that much. The same was true for Zach Weaver, so we bumped both up one weight class."

Weaver wrestled in the 195-pound weight class and placed fourth. He lost in the consolation final to South Fayette's Zach Walker, 6-0.

"Both Hannon and Weaver will be able to move down [one weight class] when we get the 2-pound weight allowance on Dec. 25," Stoner said.

Blake Caudill, Korey Caudill, Xavier Bennett and Damian Wheeler joined Weaver in the consolation finals for third place. Blake Caudill finished third at 120 when Beth-Center's Zach Swarrow defaulted. Caudill's only loss came in the semifinals to South Fayette's Seth Carr, the tournament champion.

Korey Caudill placed fourth at 126 after a 5-3 loss to South Side Beaver's Nathan Reckner. Bennett finished fourth at 138 after a pair of losses to Elizabeth Forward's Jake Terrick. Wheeler was fourth at heavyweight after a pair of 1-0 losses.

"Wheeler has had only three weeks of wrestling," Stoner said. "He lost, 1-0, in the first round to the eventual champion [Southmoreland's Jake Beistel], then came back to place fourth. His other loss was to Peters Township's Lukas Cervenak, in the consolation final. He's a gentle giant who doesn't have any bad habits."

Stoner was also impressed with the performances of Zach Raible and David Slomers, a pair of juniors.

"Raible had a 4-2 record and three pins at 170," Butler said. "Slomers was 3-2 with a pair of pins."

Butler opened its dual schedule last night with a Section 3-AAA match with Mars.

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