East Xtra: It's seven WPIAL wrestling titles in a row for Burrell


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Burrell's victory in Saturday's WPIAL Class AA team title match can be summed up in two words: experience and conditioning.

The Buccaneers were making their 11th consecutive appearance in the WPIAL finals and claimed their record seventh consecutive title with a 35-30 win against South Fayette in the second of four matches that took place at Chartiers Valley High School.

It was just the opposite for South Fayette, as the Lions were making their first title-match appearance.

"Our previous experience in the finals really helped," said Burrell senior Dakota DesLauriers, who celebrated his fourth WPIAL team title. "Having been here before really helped. We knew what to expect and knew how to handle the pressure of wrestling in a match of this importance.

"This is our seventh straight title, so keep 'em coming."

South Fayette coach Rick Chaussard agreed.

"They've been here for how many years in a row," Chaussard said. "Their kids are born to be in this position. And we're trying to get there."

Conditioning was also a major factor in Burrell's victory.

A perfect example was the 126-pound bout, which opened the title match. Burrell freshman Damon Greenwald was facing South Fayette freshman Michael Carr. Greenwald was ranked No. 1 at 126. Carr was No. 2 at 120, but more than half of his previous matches were at 126.

Carr dominated the first half of the match, building a 12-4 lead. Greenwald rebounded late in the second period with a takedown and two three-point near falls to tie the bout at 12-12.

"We gave up eight points in 30 seconds," Chaussard said. "That loss was the difference in the match."

Greenwald's 16-15 win was the first of eight Burrell victories.

"Damon did his job, plugging away at [Carr's] lead," DesLauriers said. "That's what we're taught to do. When you get down, you keep working hard and win it in the third period. We train harder than anybody for those kind of matches. You will never see a Burrell wrestler quit."

Greenwald's win was one of four key bouts for Burrell.

"We felt going in that four bouts would be coin flips," Burrell coach Bud Sines said. "We knew we had to beat one of their stoppers, and Marra did that at 152. He beat a real good kid."

Sines was referring to Phillip Marra, a senior who posted a 5-3 win in the 152-pound bout against South Fayette's J.J. Walker, a defending WPIAL champion.

"We also had to win two of three bouts at 106, 126 and wherever we put [senior Cory] Klems," Sines said. "Klems lost on a rideout [at 182], but we won at 106 and 126."

Sophomore Jason Roberts clinched Burrell's victory with a 3-2 win against South Fayette's Jasper Wolfe at 106.

"Jason Roberts had a big win in last year's semifinals against Chartiers-Houston," Sines said. "He had one of our three overtime wins in that match. Jason also won a big match against Kittanning at the beginning of the season, when we were really injured.

"So he's three for three when the pressure is on him."

It was the first title for heavyweight Alan Beattie, who recorded a pin before the clinching bout at 106.

"It's an amazing feeling to win a WPIAL title," said Beattie, a sophomore who attended Kiski School last year. "My cousins and all my friends have talked about it. I missed out on it last year. This year, I feel great. It's amazing."

Burrell (15-5) will make its ninth consecutive appearance in the PIAA Class AA team tournament, which began Monday. The Buccaneers will face Bermudian Springs, which defeated Mount Union, 38-21, Monday in a preliminary-round match, in the first round, today at Hershey's Giant Center.

"We're going out there and getting hardware," Marra said. "I promise you that. We're not coming back without hardware. We placed third in the state my sophomore year. This team is capable of matching, and hopefully improving on that."

DesLauriers echoed those thoughts: "Our original goal at the start of the year was to bring home some hardware from states. We're going for gold."

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