NORTH HUNTINGDON TWP — From heart-stopping to heartbreaking.
Seneca Valley ran the gamut during the WPIAL Class AAA Wrestling Team Championships Saturday at Norwin High School.
After coming from behind to nip Canon-McMillan, 31-30, in the semifinals, the Raiders dropped the final three bouts of the championship match in losing a 33-30 decision to Waynesburg.
Seneca Valley (15-2) finished second in the WPIAL team tourney for the second successive year. The Raiders have qualified for the PIAA team tournament for the third straight season.
The Raiders have never won a WPIAL team wrestling championship.
“This one was tough,” SV coach Kevin Wildrick said of the loss to Waynesburg. “All four of the teams here were pretty even.
“You try to do the math even before the dual starts in a situation like this. We knew we had a shot at winning it. We just came up short.”
Waynesburg defeated Hempfield, 37-33, in the other semifinal Saturday.
“These four teams are so close ... You could mix everything up and start again with the same four and the outcome could be totally different,” SV assistant coach Joe Montalbano said.
“We rode such an emotional wave in finishing third and getting to the state tournament the first time. Last year, we weren't sure we could make the numbers work for us in the (WPIAL) final. This year, we knew there was a chance.
“We're hurting, but it was a great match,” Montalbano added.
The title match started at 182 pounds. After SV's Alejandro Herrera-Rondon won by a 6-0 decision at 132, the Raiders had a 24-15 lead on Waynesburg with five matches left.
Wildrick opted to forfeit to Waynesburg's Wyatt Henson (35-5) at 138 pounds. He got those six points back when Chanz Shearer pinned Colton Stoneking 13 seconds into the third period at 145.
Waynesburg's Nate Stephenson (22-10) nipped Antonio Amelio (25-10), 3-2, at 152 and Luca Augustine (31-7) decisioned Drew Vlasnik (25-9) at 160. Those wins pulled the Tigers within 30-27 with a match to go.
Eli Makel (19-10) was able to pin Marshall Adamson (10-5) at 170 to secure the championship.
Waynesburg (12-0) remained undefeated on the year despite having no seniors in its lineup.
“I knew we had a chance and I knew it'd be tight,” Waynesburg coach Joe Throckmorton said. “The kids hung in and did what they needed to do.
“This team grew up fast this year. They've learned what it's like to be a team.”
Vlasnik, emotionally drained like many of his Raider teammates after the match, was proud of the effort nonetheless.
“Our teams were pretty evenly matched,” he said. “A lot of the matches were close. You can't help but respect the level of competition at an event like this.
“We stood up to it. We fought hard. We just came up short.”
As frustrating as the final match loss was for Seneca Valley, the semifinal win was just as exhilarating.
The Raiders trailed Cannon-McMillan (13-4) 24-12 with five bouts left in the semifinal match. Herrera-Rondon closed the gap to 24-16 by winning his 132-pound match by major decision. Herrera-Rondon (28-2) gained the extra team point by getting a near-fall in the final five seconds.
Shearer (25-6) won by pin just 1:16 into his 138-pound match to pull the Raiders within 24-22. An Amelio pin at 2:49 of his 145-pound bout gave SV a 28-24 lead with two matches left.
“That run (of wins) was so critical,” Wildrick said. “We needed every one of those points. The kids knew the situation we were in.”
The Big Macs regained the lead, 30-28, when Tanner Rohaley (24-11) won by pin with four seconds left at 160.
That sent Vlasnik to the mat against Canon-Mac's Blake Joseph (9-11) at 170 with a trip to the finals on the line.
“At that point, it's all about the team,” Vlasnik said. “I wrestled on the cautious side. No aggressive moves or headlocks ... nothing dangerous where I might get caught in something.
“All I wanted to do was win the match.”
That he did, wrestling his way to a methodical 8-1 decision and moving the Raiders into the championship match.
“We didn't win the whole thing, but we did beat a team (Canon-Mac) that we haven't beaten before,” Vlasnik said. “They've beaten us a few times, so it felt good to get some revenge there.”
Seneca Valley will wrestle State College Thursday in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA Team Tournament at the Giant Center in Hershey. Winner of that match faces Nazareth in the quarterfinals Friday.
“It's a shame all four of these teams here couldn't qualify for states because all four are capable of doing damage out there,” Wildrick said.
Waynesburg 33, Seneca Valley 30
(Match started at 182 pounds)
106-Mac Church (W) dec. Tyler Chappell, 7-2; 113-Hunter Swedish (SV) dec. Nate Jones, 4-2; 120-Dylan Chappell (SV) pinned Hunter Shriver, 1:17; 126-Rocco Welsh (W) pinned Evan Vetter, 3:27; 132-Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (SV) dec. Cole Homet, 6-0; 138-Wyatt Henson (W) by forfeit; 145-Chanz Shearer (SV) pinned Colton Stoneking, 4:13; 152-Nate Stephenson (W) dec. Antonio Amelio, 3-2; 160-Luca Augustine (W) dec. Drew Vlasnik, 9-4; 170-Eli Makel (W) pinned Marshall Adamson, 2:41; 182-Liam Volk-Klos (SV) pinned Darnell Johnson, 2:56; 195-Noah Tustin (W) dec. Patrick Johnson, 14-4; 220-Ryan Howard (W) dec. Nick Funovits, 7-2; HWT.-Davin Beahm (SV) pinned Luke Maley, 2:12
Seneca Valley 31, Canon-McMillan 30
(Match started at 170 pounds)
106-Jacob Houpt (CM) dec. Tyler Chappell, 3-0; 113-Hunter Swedish (SV) dec. Brandon Dami, 2-1; 120-Dylan Chappell (SV) dec. Costa Moore, 2-0; 126-Jacob Gardner (CM) dec. Evan Vetter, 7-2; 132-Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (SV) major dec. James Baxter, 11-2; 138-Chanz Shearer (SV) pinned Tyler Soule, 1:06; 145-Antonio Amelio (SV) pinned Gabriel Stafford, 2:49; 152-Tanner Rohaley (CM) pinned Aidan Hayes, 5:56; 160-Drew Vlasnik (SV) dec. Blake Joseph, 8-1; 170-Liam Volk-Klos (SV) pinned Layne Thomas, 1:57; 182-Matthew Furman (CM) pinned Marshall Adamson, 3:32; 195-Tyler Rohaley (CM) dec. Patrick Johnson, 2-0; 220-Gerrit Nijenhuis (CM) pinned Conor Hayes,: 46; HWT.-Evan Miller (CM) dec. Nick Funovits, 8-4