South Xtra: South Park sophomore showing plenty of growth on the mats

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It’s rare to see a wrestler move up more than three weight classes from one season to the next, but South Park’s Greg Bulsak is an exception.

Bulsak made his varsity debut last season as a 126-pound freshman and made quite a splash by winning WPIAL and Southwest Region Class AA titles and in so doing qualified for the PIAA tournament.

It’s obvious that Bulsak experienced a growth spurt during the offseason. He moved up four weight classes to 152 for his sophomore season.

“I jumped up a lot of weight this year, but focussed on wrestling a little more by working out during the offseason,” Bulsak said. “I’ve gained some weight, but I’ve worked hard on my conditioning.”

That was evident this weekend, as Bulsak captured the 152-pound title at the Allegheny County Championships, which took place at Fox Chapel Area High School. He recorded five victories in the two-day tournament, including two via pins and a third by technical fall.

Bulsak posted a 1-0 victory in the semifinals against West Allegheny’s Nate Hall, then registered a 4-0 win in the title match against South Fayette’s Grant Fetchet.

“It’s great to go from fourth to first and win a county title,” said Bulsak, referring to his finish last year in the county tournament.

Bulsak was joined in the finals by teammate Jake Wentzel, who fell one win short of a title after losing, 8-0, to Central Catholic’s Vincenzo Joseph in the 138-pound final.

“I felt bad for Jake, but couldn’t let it affect me,” Bulsak said. “I had to concentrate on my match.”

Lebo takes runner-up spot

Mt. Lebanon turned in its best performance in the 13-year history of the tournament. The Blue Devils made their first top-five finish by placing second behind champion North Allegheny.

Kellen Stout and Zeynul Zaynullayev won titles for Mt. Lebanon, while Kevin Kinyua placed second.

Stout made his second appearance in the finals and claimed his first title with a first-period pin of North Hills’ Eric King at 182 pounds.

“The finals were a lot more fun this year,” said Stout, who lost to South Fayette’s Mike Fetchet in last year’s 170-pound final.

“Experience was the difference. I’ve wrestled in a lot of good tournaments since then, including this year’s Powerade Tournament. The experience I picked up in those tournaments really helped me this weekend.”

Zaynullayev captured the heavyweight title by pinning Plum’s Stephen Turchick. Kinyua dropped a 5-2 decision to Shaler Area’s Mike Heinl in the 120-pound final.

“This is my first title and the first tournament in which I made it to the finals,” Zaynullayev said. “It’s amazing. It’s a great feeling.”

Upper St. Clair’s Corey Wilding also won his first county title. Wilding recorded a 5-0 shutout of Plum’s Eric Green in the 145-pound final. He is a four-time county place-winner.

“This was the fourth time I made it to the semifinals,” Wilding said. “It’s such a great feeling to finally make it to the finals and win a county title. I was finally able to put it all together.”

Wilding is the second member of his family to win a county title, joining his brother, Austin.

“Austin won a title his senior year,” said Wilding, referring to his older brother who accomplished the feat in 2012. “He was so successful in high school. It would be great if I could match his success.”

Strong showing for Lions

South Fayette showed no ill effects of its late start by placing third in the team standings. Most of the team started the season a month late due to South Fayette’s WPIAL and PIAA football titles.

“This is the first time we finished in the top three,” South Fayette coach Rick Chaussard said.

“Our previous best finish was last year when we were fourth. We had eight kids place [among the top eight in their weight classes] and all but one of our entries scored points for us. I’m very pleased with our performance.”

South Fayette had two wrestlers advance to the finals and one claimed a title. Michael Carr captured the 132-pound weight class with a 6-2 win against North Allegheny’s Jake Hinkson in the title match.

“It feels great to be standing on top of the winners platform,” Carr said. “I put in a lot of hard work over the summer and it’s paying off.”

Carr was one of the few South Fayette wrestlers who was not a member of the football team.

“The late start didn’t affect me,” Carr said. “I’ve been working out a lot with my brothers and with Jim Akerly at Quest [School of Wrestling].

South Fayette’s other finalist was Fetchet, who lost to Bulsak in the 152-pound final. Jared Walker placed third at 160 after losing by one point in the semifinals.

A McKeesport first

McKeesport Area’s Kevin Stalter became the first wrestler in school history to wrestle in the Allegheny County finals.

Statler advanced to the 113-pound final before losing, 16-1, to North Allegheny’s Luke Landefeld.

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