South Xtra: South Park soph tops familiar foe for WPIAL title
February 27, 2014 12:00 AM
Marilyn Schwilm/Tri-State Sports & News Service
South Park's Jake Wentzel, left, wrestles against Jefferson Morgan's Jason Miller during the 138-pound title match at the WPIAL championships. Wentzel won the match by pin at 3:23.
By Ryan Riordan / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Dallas Bulsak and Hunter Neely grew up as practice partners at Bentworth.
But when the two wrestled Saturday night at Chartiers Valley High School, the stakes were much higher.
Bulsak (24-4), a freshman who moved to South Park this year, defeated Neely, 7-0, in the WPIAL Class AA 106-pound championship.
"I used to practice with him, because that's where I went to school, but I never wrestled him in a match," Bulsak said. "I knew we were both going to be aggressive."
Neely (29-4) and Bulsak entered the tournament as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, and each recorded a technical fall and a pin in their two matches leading up to the final.
It was the first WPIAL championship match for both wrestlers, and Neely admitted having to fight off a case of nerves.
"That was one of my big downfalls," Neely said. "Everything was built up and I didn't get it out fast enough. Nerves were a big negative in that match."
Bulsak, meanwhile, was able to lean on some advice from his cousin and teammate, Greg Bulsak, on how to handle the big stage.
Greg Bulsak was in the same position as Dallas last season, when Greg won the 126-pound title as a freshman. He took third place in the 152-pound weight class Saturday and spoke to his cousin prior to his title match.
"He told me not to take him lightly and just go out and wrestle your best," Dallas Bulsak said.
Both wrestlers will move on to the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament in Johnstown, which begins Friday.
South Park's Wentzel gets first title
In a tough 132-pound bracket that included now four-time WPIAL Class AA champion Jason Nolf and current University of Pittsburgh wrestler Nick Zanetta, South Park's Jake Wentzel placed fifth at the WPIAL tournament last season.
A year older and a year stronger, and without Nolf and Zanetta in his bracket, Wentzel (33-1) won his first district title with a pin at 3:23 against Jefferson-Morgan's Jason Miller (24-2) in the 138-pound championship match.
"Last year I had a tough weight class and didn't expect much with Nolf and Zanetta and all of them there," Wentzel said. "This year, coming in ranked No. 1, I was feeling pretty confident."
A South Park sophomore, he will now look to improve on his regional and state finishes from last season. Wentzel took fourth place at the 2013 PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional, and then placed eighth at Hershey.
South Fayette's Walker inspired
All season long, South Fayette 160-pounder J.J. Walker has come on the mat after 152-pounder Grant Fetchet.
Saturday night was no different, as the two Lions were both in the WPIAL Class AA championship matches in their respective weight classes.
Although Fetchet (36-2) lost, 5-4, in overtime to Burrell's Steve Edwards (39-4), Fetchet's effort inspired Walker as he stepped onto the mat next for his championship bout against Jefferson-Morgan's Ryan Zalar.
"Seeing Grant right before me really got me going," Walker said. "I thought he wrestled great. Watching how hard he went out there and how motivated he was really got me going."
Walker (37-1), a junior, pinned Zalar (30-6) in 3:33 to win his third WPIAL title. He'll have a chance to become the 24th wrestler in the WPIAL to win four titles next season.
Carr carries on family tradition
Mike Carr (37-0), a sophomore at South Fayette, became the third from his family to reach a WPIAL Class AA final and second to win the title in the past four years Saturday with a 9-2 victory against Southmoreland's Evan Myers at 132 pounds.
He joined his brother, Nick, who won district titles in his junior and senior seasons of 2010 and 2011, adding a PIAA title in 2010.
"That's when I made my goal to be a PIAA Class AA state champion -- when I was in sixth grade and Nick won it," Carr said.
Seth Carr, a 2013 graduate, placed second in the WPIAL and PIAA tournaments last season.
Mike Carr said the brothers honed their wrestling skills by using their dining room as a practice area, which sometimes led to destruction of the house and furniture, including when Mike once put his foot through a wall.
"My dad didn't care too much [about us wrestling in the house], but my mom was always freaking out," Mike Carr said.
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