By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
CONGRATULATIONS TO the Reynolds High wrestling team for adding another award to the crowded school trophy case this past weekend by finishing second at the PIAA Class AA Dual Meet Championships.
The state originated the Duals in 1999 and the Raiders have been more successful than any other AA team, having won three times and finishing second three as well.
Bethlehem Catholic, which defeated Reynolds Saturday, also has three titles (in a row), but those were the only finals appearances.
When the duals were initiated, only the District 10 champion moved on to state. Then a few years ago, they began to take the champion and runner-up into the tournament, although the runner-up had to compete in a wrestle-in match to advance to Hershey.
This year it expanded even more with three D-10 teams moving on, with two wrestle-in matches. But D-10 teams certainly did well.
While the Raiders were runners-up, Fort LeBoeuf finished third. Only Beth Catholic defeated those teams. Saegertown advanced all the way to Saturday, where the Panthers bowed to LeBoeuf in the morning consolation round.
It will be interesting to watch how the wrestlers from the three teams do during their sectional and district tourneys. Sometimes after competing at state in the duals, some wrestlers have a tendency for a letdown.
ä Don’t expect any letdown from Austin Matthews of Reynolds. This past weekend the 152-pound star pinned all four of his opponents in the first period, a pretty rare feat indeed.
“If he wrestled for himself the way he does to help his team, he would be unbeatable,” said Reynolds coach Casey Taylor. “He’s a big reason we did as well as we did.”
Matthews is on a mission and is almost unbeatable most of the time. He has lost in the state finals twice and is a three-time placer. As expected, his goal is the top of the medal stand. It will be fun to watch his drive for the gold medal (unless you are his opponent, of course).
ä Reynolds defeated Boiling Springs in the semifinals of the state duals and gained a bit of revenge over the Bubblers who had beaten the Raiders two straight years previous.
One interesting note: When the two teams meet, it is a rare occurrence that it would be a clash of two coaches who are three-time high school state champions. Taylor was a three-timer for Reynolds, while Boiling Springs coach Rod Wright was a three-timer at Lakeview.
ä The sectional Class AA tournaments begin this coming weekend, again at three different sites. Following are the tournament sites and teams:
AA-1 at Union City — Corry, Eisenhower, Fort LeBoeuf, Harborcreek, Iroquois, North East, Saegertown, Seneca, Union City, Youngsville.
AA-2 at Sharon — Franklin, Grove City, Hickory, Lakeview, Mercer, Reynolds, Sharon, Sharpsville, Slippery Rock, West Middlesex.
AA-3 at Greenville — Cambridge Springs, Cochranton, Commodore Perry, Conneaut Area, Fairview, Girard, Greenville, Jamestown, Maplewood, Northwestern.
The lone AAA section will be held at Erie Central Tech with Cathedral Prep, Central Tech, East, Gen. McLane, McDowell, Meadville, Oil City, Strong Vincent, Titusville and Warren in the field. McLane, Titusville and Warren are all AA eligible, but choose to compete in AAA, while Oil City is a co-op.
All four tournaments begin on Friday and continue on to Saturday.
ä In Class AA, it will be interesting to see who steps up and drives all the way to the state tournament. Last season we had four locals in the state finals, but only Matthews returns.
In fact the only other two local state qualifiers returning are Sharon’s Jarray Norris and Lakeview’s Sam Breese. Both are shooting for spots high on the medal stand this year.