East Xtra: Valley celebrates wrestling titles

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After coming within one win of a WPIAL Class AA title each of the past two seasons, Terrell Fields was able to claim the elusive district championship Saturday night.

Although Fields (30-1) was elated about his 182-pound title, it was the victory that occurred about 10 minutes later that made his smile even wider.

Valley senior Marcus Davenport (30-3) took down Ellwood City's Brad Grinnen (30-3) as time expired for a 5-3 victory in the 195-pound championship match.

Davenport is more than just Fields' teammate; he is also his adopted brother.

"You know what, [I'm happier] for him," Fields said. "He works so hard. Coming from where he was ninth-grade year until now, it's amazing."

Fields came into his match as the heavy favorite as a two-time WPIAL runner-up. Both losses came to Burrell's Dakota DesLauriers, who won the PIAA title last season as a senior and finished second in the state in 2012.

Fields, who finished sixth last season at the PIAA Class AA championships, credits his matches with DesLauriers in making him into the wrestler he is today and hopes to follow in the former Bucs' footsteps in Herhsey.

"Wrestling Dakota two years in a row just made me better, honestly," Fields said. "To finally get gold ... the team and coach talked a lot that this isn't enough. We've got two weeks left -- two more shots, two more tournaments, two more finals."

Fields will likely face tougher matches ahead than he did Saturday, as he pinned all three of his opponents in less than three minutes, including a fall over West Greene's Dalton Wildman in 1:16 in the championship match.

Davenport got to the 195-pound title match with three falls as well, but faced quite a battle from Grinnen, the top seed in that weight class. But the late takedown had Davenport jumping up and down with joy and gave Valley two WPIAL champions for the first time in school history.

"We've worked all year for this," Davenport said. "I knew he could do it, and he knew I could do it and we both did it."

Fields and Davenport now move on to the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament, which begins Friday in Johnstown. They'll be joined by two more teammates, Pat Dewitt (126-pound runner-up) and Sequawon Harris (fifth place at 106 pounds).

Derry sophomore wins again

Last year, Derry's George Phillippi entered the WPIAL Class AA 113-pound final against South Fayette senior Seth Carr as a nervous freshman.

The Trojans' sophomore standout had a little different mindset as he prepared for his 120-pound district title match against Freedom Area freshman Kody Komara Saturday night. A WPIAL and PIAA title tends to give a wrestler more confidence.

"I feel like I'm just mentally stronger and I believe in myself more this season," Phillippi said.

Phillippi (34-4) defended his district title with an 18-3 win against Komara, notching a technical fall at 5:45. It was stark contrast to last season, when he defeated Carr, 1-0, in the WPIAL final. Phillippi went on to beat Carr again in the PIAA championship match.

A few matches after Phillippi won his second district title Saturday, he watched Kittanning's Jason Nolf become the 23rd wrestler to win four WPIAL titles, which is an accomplishment that is still within Phillippi's reach.

"I'm hoping to [be a four-time champ], but I'm just taking it one at a time," Phillippi said.

Phillippi's practice partner, Stone Kepple, also had a good tournament Saturday, placing fourth at 126 pounds.

Phillippi thinks Kepple (30-10) has the chance to make the podium at Hershey next week.

"Stone Kepple has been my practice partner my whole life and he's been tough," Phillippi said. "He is honestly so tough, probably one of the hardest kids I drill with.

"He's just starting to come over that hump and I wouldn't be surprised if he's placing at states, state finals, anything."

Kepple said he and Phillippi have been practicing together since they were 6 years old and credits the work they put in to their success on the mat.

"We find each other's spots that we need to work on and tell each other what we need to do to get better," Kepple said. "His brother has a gym and we go there all the time and can go there whenever we want to work, so that's really helpful."

Burrell sends large contingent

Earlier this season, Burrell won its eighth consecutive WPIAL Class AA team title. On Saturday, the Bucs showed again why they have the top program in Western Pennsylvania.

The Bucs had a WPIAL-best nine wrestlers qualify for the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament, which begins Friday at Johnstown. Jefferson-Morgan was next with eight qualifiers.

"Overall I think we wrestled well," Burrell first-year coach Josh Shields said. "Our goal was to get 10 through and we came up one short, but I think all the guys who went through wrestled hard.

"We've set ourselves up in good position for next week."

The Bucs had two wrestlers -- Steve Edwards (39-4) at 152 pounds and Allan Beattie (37-5) at 285 pounds -- win championships. It was Beattie's second WPIAL title in a row.

Shields also was given an award Saturday as the WPIAL Class AA coach of the year.

"It's great, but it's really not me, it's these kids," Shields said. "They've been wrestling great all year. That award is for these kids. They earned it for me and I appreciate it."

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