Pierce unlikely hero in WG win

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observer-reporter.com/HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

Friday, February 13, 1998

Pierce unlikely hero in WG win

BY JOE TUSCANO
THE OBSERVER-REPORTER

PHOTO BY SATN DIAMOND

Mike Miller of West Greene prepares to pin Mike Ross of Southmoreland at 160 pounds.

In the numerous hours spent going over the matchups, no one from either West Greene or Southmoreland believed this wrestling match would turn on the performance of a sophomore with two victories and a sore foot.

But Jason Pierce knew differently.

His gutsy performance in a 6-4 overtime decision over Jim McBeth was key in West Greene's 32-21 victory over Southmoreland Thursday in the WPIAL Class AA Team Tournament semifinals.

The victory not only avenges a regular season loss to the Scotties (13-3) but also moves the Pioneers (13-4) into Saturday's finals against Washington, which defeated Burgettstown in the other semifinal dual meet at Trinity High School.

"It's unbelievable,'' said Pierce. "I never dreamed of doing this.''

Pierce had missed the past two weeks after suffering a foot injury in the Bedford Tournament. He didn't do much work while waiting for the foot to heal.

"He'd only been at practice a couple of times,'' said West Greene coach Allen Hughes. "And then the boy stepped on his foot during the match and he hurt it again.''

After a scoreless first period, McBeth reversed Pierce at 1:49. But Pierce escaped 53 seconds later to cut the lead to 2-1 after two periods. Pierce escaped to start the third period and McBeth took him down with 1:07 left to make it 4-2. Pierce reversed McBeth with 28 seconds to go and then rode him out to force overtime.

The two traded token shots through the first 1:20 of overtime before Pierce shot in and took McBeth down near the edge of the mat for a 6-4 victory.

Pierce's decision was crucial because the Pioneers lost an important matchup at 145, where Chad Lough lost leads of 5-0 and 8-4 in dropping a 15-10 overtime decision to Andy Buchta. That gave the Scotties a 15-14 lead.

"I was a little worried after 145,'' Hughes said. "I was a little disappointed there. Chad lost focus because he had him right where he wanted him.''

But West Greene rallied with two wins, including a stunning 9-8 decision by the Pioneers' Mike Eddy over Shawn Depta at 152 and Mike Miller's pin of Southmoreland's Mike Ross in 3:10 at 160. Depta is the top-ranked wrestler at that weight class.

"Depta is a good boy,'' said Hughes. "It's not like he beat some weaker kids.''

Pierce's victory gave West Greene a 26-15 lead and allowed the Pioneers to forfeit to Tony May and move John Kasecky up to heavyweight to battle Chad Miller.

Kasecky did not disappoint. He built a 5-2 lead on Miller in the third period and then pinned him in 4:58.

"We thought he had a chance to win the bout,'' Hughes said. "We watched some tape of him and had a good idea what he did.'




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