South/West Xtra: WPIAL Class AA wrestling title slips through Lions' paws

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The South Fayette High School wrestling team got the rematch it had been hoping for with Saturday's WPIAL Class AA Team Tournament title match against Burrell.

The Lions even had the title within their grasp, leading by two points with two bouts remaining, but let it slip away.

"That's a good team over there," South Fayette coach Rick Chaussard said after watching his squad lose the final two bouts and drop a 34-28 decision to the Bucs. "We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We knew it would be a close match. It just didn't go our way."

Burrell was making its 12th consecutive WPIAL title appearance and claimed its eighth consecutive title, while South Fayette had to settle for second best again.

"We talked about being aggressive, especially on our feet," Chaussard said. "We didn't start out that way. We didn't start getting aggressive until the upper weights."

That was obvious, as Burrell took advantage of its strength in the middle weights by winning four of the first five bouts to take a commanding 17-3 lead.

The match started at 126 pounds and the Lions only win during Burrell's opening rally was a 6-4 victory by Michael Carr against J.R. Andrejcik at 132 pounds. Carr (29-0) remained unbeaten with the victory.

The match that followed was the one that hurt the Lions the most. Shane Ging took Burrell's Damon Greenwald to overtime in the 138-pound bout. Fifteen seconds later, Greenwald scored the winning takedown at the edge of the mat.

"That's a huge swing there," Chaussard said. "If we could have pulled that one out, it would have been a different story."

South Fayette rebounded from its 17-3 deficit with wins in four of the next five bouts to take a 25-20 advantage, and picked up bonus points in all four wins.

Grant Fetchet started the Lions comeback rally with a pin of Noah Hanna at 160 pounds. Jared Walker and Jack Previte followed with decisive victories. Walker posted an 11-3 major decision victory at 170 against Derrick Beattie, then Previte brought the South Fayette fans to their feet with a pin of Nick Pattock at 182.

Zach Walker capped the rally with a pin of Corey Arabia after moving up to the 220-pound weight class.

Burrell regained the lead, 26-25, with a pin by Allan Beattie at heavyweight. But its lead didn't last long, as South Fayette's Andrew John posted a 6-5 victory at 106 to give the Lions a 28-26 advantage with two bouts to go.

"We thought we had a shot coming into the turn," Chaussard said. "All we had to do was win two of the three matches ... and we didn't need any pins. We just didn't get it done."

Burrell freshman Dillan Jeffery followed with a 17-2 technical fall of Jasper Wolfe at 113. Wolfe had beaten Jeffery a week earlier, but the Lions sophomore was hampered by a recurring shoulder injury.

"His shoulder has been bothering him for a while," Chaussard admitted. "He's had issues with it. Some days it bothers him and some days it doesn't. It didn't bother him Wednesday night, but it bothered him today."

Jason Roberts clinched Burrell's victory, for the second year in a row, with a 7-1 win against Kevin Chaussard in the bout at 120.

South Fayette, seeded No. 2 in the 15-team bracket, earned its title berth with wins against Southmoreland, 60-19, in the first round; Avella, 47-21, in the quarterfinals; and Jefferson-Morgan, 37-29, in the semifinals.

By placing among the top three, South Fayette earned its second consecutive berth in the PIAA Class AA team tournament.

"I think we'll be alright," said Chaussard when asked how tough it will be to regroup for the state tournament. "They are a resilient bunch. We don't have a choice. We have three days to get ready, then go at it again on Thursday."

Burrell will face District 6 champion Huntingdon in the first round of the state tournament today at 4 p.m. at the Giant Center in Hershey.

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