Unbeaten McGuffey overcomes injuries, Shaler

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observer-reporter.com/HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

Friday, February 13, 1998

Unbeaten McGuffey overcomes injuries, Shaler

BY KEN WUNDERLEY
FOR THE OBSERVER-REPORTER

DORMONT -- Just when it looked like the injury situation had finally caught up to the McGuffey wrestling team, the Highlanders rallied to pull out a 33-19 victory over Shaler in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals Thursday at Keystone Oaks High School.

The Highlanders, despite having two starters out of the lineup, rallied from a 16-6 deficit with wins in six of the last seven bouts.

The win earns McGuffey its sixth consecutive trip to the Class AAA title match, a WPIAL team tournament record.

"I'm real pleased how this team has come together over the last couple weeks," said McGuffey coach Mark Caffrey. "They could have used the injury situation as an excuse, but everybody worked a little harder to pick up the slack. Making it back to the title match is a real tribute to their dedication and pride."

McGuffey, ranked No. 2 by the Observer-Reporter with an 18-0 record, will face top-seed Mt. Pleasant (15-0) in Saturday's title match at a site to be determined.

The victory marked the third consecutive team tournament match in which McGuffey was missing two starters. Luke Main, who would have wrestled at 103, was out with the flu, while 135-pounder Zac Shaner was out with a broken thumb.

"My hat is off to McGuffey," said Shaler coach Rick LaFerriere. "But I thought my kids did a great job. They gave McGuffey all they could handle, and I'm very proud of them for that."

Shaler, ranked No. 3 with a 19-1 record, took advantage of Main's absence with Tom Ford's 13-3 victory over Adam Watson at 103.

The Highlanders bounced back with wins by Jared Gashel and Rick Bauer to take a 6-4 lead. Gashel recorded a 6-0 victory over Ryan Yokel at 112 and Bauer scored a 9-3 win at 119 over Tom Bursick.

Shaler responded with wins in the next three weight classes, including a 4-3 upset victory by Joe Ford over Matt Helicke at 125, to take a commanding 16-6 lead.

Troy Letters and D.J. Schilling followed with wins for the Titans. Letters, Shaler's freshman sensation, needed only 1:36 to pin Mike Downey at 130. Schilling recorded a 3-1 victory over Dave Schlaupitz at 135.

Jim Hanning ended Shaler's rally with a pin at 2:49 in the 140-pound weight class over Matt Schmitt. That began a run of five straight wins in which the Highlanders pulled out to a 27-16 lead.

Also recording wins during the McGuffey rally were Brinton Ealy, Rich Kelley, Shawn Kelley, and Nick Richmond.

Ealy rallied from a 5-0 first-period deficit to defeat Leon Nowaczynski, 11-9, at 145. Rich Kelley followed with a 7-3 win over Brandon Lehmeier at 152.

Shawn Kelley recorded possibly the biggest win of the match when he scored a takedown with 30 seconds left in overtime to defeat Brandon Yeckel 3-1 at 160. "The Kelley brothers pulled off two big victories, and Brinton came up with a big win at 145," said Caffrey. "Those three wins were the most important bouts in the match."

Nick Richmond capped the rally with a pin of Ryan McGorry at 5:34 in the 171-pound bout. That gave McGuffey a 27-16 lead with two bouts remaining, which meant Shaler would have to record a pair of pins to win the match.

Shaler's Ben Yeckel put Mike Abriatis on his back twice during the 189-pound bout, but had to settle for a 12-7 victory, thus ending Shaler's hopes for an upset.

McGuffey's Joe Ginther sweetened the victory with a first-period pin of Tom Torchia at heavyweight.




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