South Xtra: South Park trio primed for sectional wrestling tournament
February 13, 2014 12:00 AM
Ken Wunderley/Tri-State Sports & News Service
South Park's Jake Wentzel, top, defeated Butler Area's Cody Houston during the season-opening Chartiers-Houston Invitational in December. He has a 27-1 record.
By Ken Wunderley / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Greg Bulsak became the third wrestler in South Park High School history to win a WPIAL title last February.
Bulsak, a sophomore, is back for an encore and could be joined atop the WPIAL winners platform by two Eagles teammates.
"We have three kids who are legitimate threats to win WPIAL titles," said South Park coach Walt Karrenbauer, as the Eagles prepare for Saturday's Class AA Section 1 Tournament, which will take place at Chartiers-Houston High School. "But they can't be concerned with the WPIAL tournament until we wrestle in the section tournament."
Bulsak won section, WPIAL, and Southwest Region titles last season and qualified for the PIAA championships while competing at 126 pounds. He has grown considerably and competes at 152 this season. he enters the postseason with a 27-1 record.
"Greg's only loss this year was to Altoona's D.J. Hollingshead at the Penn Cambria Tournament," Karrenbauer said. "He's in a very strong weight class."
Bulsak is ranked No. 2 in the WPIAL behind Burrell's Steven Edwards, a WPIAL top-three finisher the past two years. South Fayette's Grant Fetchet, a two-time WPIAL third-place finisher, is ranked No. 3. Bulsak and Fetchet will be the top two seeds in Section 1. Edwards competes in Section 3.
"Greg beat Fetchet [4-0] at the Allegheny County Championships," Karrenbauer said. "We're expecting a rematch in the section finals."
Bulsak has two teammates who are ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL. His brother, Dallas (19-4), a freshman, is making his section debut at 106. Jake Wentzel (27-1) is entered at 138 pounds after placing second in the section and fifth in the WPIAL last season at 132.
"We've never had three section champs in one season," Karrenbauer said. "We're hoping this will be the first time."
Bucs primed for sectional
Chartiers-Houston's Jeff Havelka has attended and participated in quite a few section tournaments over the years, but this will be his first as a head coach.
"I'm really looking forward to the tournament, especially since we're hosting," Havelka said. "We've been off for the past two weeks, so the kids are really excited about wrestling at sections."
Chartiers-Houston senior Richie McGinnis is the only entry in the Section 1 Tournament who has won more than one section title. He won titles at 103 and 106, then moved to 120 last year and placed third.
"It would be great to see Richie win a third title," Havelka said. "It would be nice to see him win another title in his final match at home."
Lions show their pride
South Fayette had 11 of 14 entries earn a WPIAL berth at last year's Section 1 Tournament. Coach Rick Chaussard would like to see the Lions improve on that total this year.
"The goal every year is to do better than we did the year before," Chaussard said.
Improving on last year will be tough, as South Fayette has one of its key starters on the disabled list. Senior Zach Walker, a section and WPIAL runner-up at 195 pounds last year, has been scratched with a shoulder injury.
"Zach has a torn labrum," Chaussard said. "He tried to wrestle with it during the WPIAL and PIAA team tournaments. After returning from Hershey, I talked with his parents and we decided it would be best to pull the plug. He could have made it out of sections and probably WPIALs, but it would have been almost impossible for him to qualify for the state tournament."
South Fayette's lineup features two wrestlers who have won a previous section title. Jared Walker is a two-time WPIAL champ, but only a one-time section champ. He placed second in the section last year.
Brett Beltz won a Section 3 title two years ago while wrestling at Keystone Oaks, but missed last season with an injury. Beltz is entered at 145 pounds, while Walker is at 160.
SA to compete in Section 3
South Allegheny had seven wrestlers qualify for the WPIAL tournament last season out of Section 3. The Gladiators are hoping to match that total in Saturday's section tournament at Avonworth High School.
"Our section isn't as strong as the other two sections," South Allegheny coach Anthony DiGiorgio said. "We're hoping to match last year's total of seven qualifiers."
South Allegheny's lineup includes two entries who wrestled in the section finals last year.
Justo Hernandez won a section title at 113 last year, while Seth Hitchens placed second at 220. Hernandez (21-9) has moved up to 120, while Hitchens returns at 220.
"Our lightweights moved down a weight class for sections," DiGiorgio said.
"I'm expecting Justo and Seth to make it back to the finals. My sleeper is Noah Stoker at 113. Noah missed most of last season with an elbow injury."
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