West Xtra: After strong start, West Allegheny takes a break

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The West Allegheny High School wrestling team has a break in its schedule during the holidays.

This year, the break is even longer than normal.

The Indians had a Class AAA Sub-Section 4B match scheduled with Montour on Wednesday (Dec. 18), but the match was re-scheduled for Jan. 7.

"Last year, we had a two-week break from competition during the holidays," West Allegheny coach Mike Johnson said. "This year, our break is a little longer due to the re-scheduling."

West Allegheny's most recent competition was last Friday. The Indians next competition is Jan. 3 at the Midwestern Athletic Conference Tournament, which will take place at Montour High School. That's a three-week break.

"I would rather have the break now than at the end of the season," Johnson said. "In past years, our schedule ended two weeks before the section tournament. It's hard to keep the kids motivated that long at the end of the season."

Johnson is a little concerned with his kids maintaining their weight during the holidays.

"The holidays are never easy for a wrestler," Johnson said. "There is so much good food and deserts. The kids have to be disciplined. But it does help to get the 2-pound weight allowance on Dec. 25."

West Allegheny takes a 5-2 record into the holiday break. Five of the seven matches were wrestled at the Hampton Dawg Duals.

"We had a 3-2 record," Johnson said. "We beat Mount Pleasant [45-21], Baldwin [66-4], and Shaler [39-38]. We lost to Fox Chapel [50-26] in pool play, then lost to Hampton [49-11] in the consolation for third place."

West Allegheny also posted a pair of victories in Sub-Section 4B. The Indians defeated Hopewell, 41-30, and Central Valley, 42-21, to move closer to a section playoff berth.

"Our last three sub-section matches come during an eight-day stretch in January," said Johnson, referring to matches against Montour, Ambridge and Blackhawk. "Our goal is to win all three and finish unbeaten in our sub-section, then win the section [team] tournament."

Canon-McMillan is the favorite in the overall Section 4 playoff picture.

"Canon-Mac is always the favorite in the section," Johnson said. "It will be tough to unseat them."

West Allegheny has a very young squad.

"We have only one senior," Johnson said. "We may be young, but the kids are doing a nice job thus far."

Nathan Hall (152) and Ryan Cunningham (120) are off to exceptionally good starts. Both have 7-0 records.

Mason Schaefer (6-1 at 106) and Josh Bahr (6-1 at 170) have only one loss.

"Mason got hurt before last year's section tournament and was not able to wrestle," Johnson said. "He's healthy now."

Other West Allegheny wrestlers off to solid starts are Luke Seifert (5-2 at 285), Dante Bizzarri (5-2 at 126), David Rubis (3-3 at 160) and Brendan Cunningham (3-3 at 182).

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