East Xtra: Derry Area freshman captures first WPIAL title


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Derry freshman George Phillippi knows people are going to compare him to former Trojans star wrestler Jimmy Gulibon.

But he doesn't shy away from the talk. Instead, he embraces being compared to the four-time state champion, as well as another former Trojan, 2011 state champion Travis Schaeffer.

"I just want to end up like Jimmy and Trav," Phillippi said. "I look up to them. I want to have the same goals they did and win the same things they did."

He can check at least one thing off the list, as he joined Gulibon as a freshman WPIAL champion.

Phillippi notched an escape in the third period to beat South Fayette senior Seth Carr, 1-0, in the 113-pound WPIAL Class AA championship match Saturday at Chartiers Valley.

Phillippi (35-3) said his pre-match nerves turned to confidence when he entered the third period tied, 0-0, after holding Carr down the entire second period.

"I was nervous because I saw [Carr] wrestle all day," Phillippi said. "But I haven't been held down all year. Well, I was one time, but I won that match in overtime. I just feel like bottom is my position."

Derry coach Mike Weinell said he would like to see Phillippi score more from the top position, but was proud of how his freshman handled the big stage.

Although he didn't want to push the Gulibon comparisons, he did say Phillippi's approach to the tournament was similar to the mindset Gulibon had during his state champion run from 2009-2012.

"Jimmy never overlooked anybody," Weinell said. "He was unbelievable. He never looked past his next match.

"[Phillippi] did a nice job of that. He took it one match at a time and as a freshman he is learning how to manage the tournament and manage each kid he wrestles. And I think as we keep going, he's going to get better and better."

Burrell maintains winning tradition

Burrell won its seventh consecutive WPIAL Class AA championship this season.

But one look at the semifinal matches in the district's individual tournament Saturday at Chartiers Valley and it seemed like the Bucs weren't doing as well as the other Class AA squads.

Four teams had more semifinal representatives than Burrell's three, and six other teams had just as many.

But in the end, no one had more wrestlers standing atop the medal platform as the Bucs.

All three of Burrell's semifinalists -- Phil Marra (26-6) at 145 pounds, Dakota DesLauriers (29-0) at 182 pounds and Alan Beattie (33-8) at 285 pounds -- won titles.

The Bucs were the only team to have more than one champion.

It was the first titles for Marra and Beattie and the third for DesLauriers, who became the fourth Burrell wrestler in the past decade to win at least three WPIAL championships.

"We just have a good tradition," DesLauriers said. "We had a shirt last year that said 'Tradition never graduates.'"

DesLauriers works for title

Valley's Terrell Fields (33-5) is accustomed to seeing Dakota DesLauriers across from him on the mat in big matches.

Last season, DesLauriers pinned Fields in the 182-pound championship match of the Section 3-AA, WPIAL and PIAA Southwest Regional tournaments.

This year, DesLauriers again pinned the Valley senior in the Section 3-AA 182-pound title match. So when Saturday arrived Fields was again pitted against DesLauriers in the WPIAL Class AA title match, it was logical to assume the Burrell senior would win by fall.

But Fields made DesLauriers work for his third district title in a row. The match was scoreless through two periods before DesLauriers notched two takedowns and an escape while Fields only got an escape in the third period for a 5-1 win for the Bucs' star.

"It was the position I wanted to be in [entering the third period], and I needed to just score some points," Fields said.

DesLauriers said he wasn't surprised by the result, because Fields has seemed to improve each time they've wrestled. At the section tournament, Fields took down DesLauriers for the first time.

"Every time we wrestle, it gets closer," DesLauriers said. "He knows my next moves and I know his. He's only going to get closer between us. He's wrestling tough. He's gotten a lot stronger from last year."

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