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Smail racks up points in matchSmail's pin boosts Mt. Pleasant to victory

Referee Rick Sheheen looks on Thursday night as Mt. Pleasant's Josh Smail works for back points against Connellsville's Pat Joseph at 140 pounds. Smail won by fall and Mt. Pleasant went on to take the match, 31-24. (Eric McCandless/Tribune-Review photo)
By Paul Schofield

The Mt. Pleasant wrestling team had an unsung hero in Thursday's WPIAL Class AAA team tournament match against Connellsville. With the Vikings clinging to a five-point lead and in danger of losing their first match of the season, senior Josh Smail came to the rescue.

Smail's third-period pin of Connellsville's Pat Joseph propelled Mt. Pleasant to a 31-24 victory before more than 700 fans at the Southmoreland High School gymnasium. The win advanced Mt. Pleasant to Saturday's final against McGuffey, which defeated Shaler, 33-19. The site and time of the final will be announced today by the WPIAL.

The Vikings (15-0), which defeated Connellsville, 41-9, in the first match of the season, found themselves in their second consecutive tight battle. Connellsville won three of the first five matches and were deadlocked with the Vikings, 9-9.

After Erick Eyth gave Mt. Pleasant a 14-9 lead with a technical fall victory against Marcus Lubich, Smail stepped to the mat with everything on the line. A Connellsville victory would have made things interesting in the final three bouts.

Smail took the wind out of Connellsville's sails. He dominated the match, building a 15-3 lead before pinning Joseph to the mat. "I had to get a win for us," Smail said. "Our morale was down and I had to pick up the team. I didn't know what Joseph was going to attempt, so I stayed smart and tough."

Smail's pin was part of a three-win run by Mt. Pleasant. John Lloyd's 11-3 victory against Craig Collins extended the Vikings' lead to 24-9. Waller then made the only move he could make, moving up Ron Kesler away from Connellsville's Matt King, ranked No. 1 in the state at 152. After King pinned Steve Stoltica in the first period, Kesler and Waller's son Robbie sealed the victory. Kesler defeated Justin Martin, 8-4, and Waller downed Joey Ross, 11-2. "Josh's win was the ticket for us," said Mt. Pleasant coach Rob Waller. "His pin and Jonathan Huesdash's victory were both important, especially with Harley (Anderson) out of the line-up."

Anderson missed the match after becoming ill at school Thursday morning. Connellsville took advantage of Harley Anderson's absence when DeWitt Driscoll posted an 8-2 victory against his replacement, younger brother Rocky Anderson.

Brandon Newill gave Mt. Pleasant a 6-3 lead with a second-period pin against Nathan Rowan. Huesdash defeated Connellsville freshman Ron Doppelheuer, 5-2, in the 119-pound match to increase the lead to 9-3. "We needed to split in the lower weights," Waller said. "Connellsville was a different and I knew we'd have our hands full."

Connellsville coach Tom Dolde was pleased with his team's effort. "The team was confident they'd give them a better battle," Dolde said. "Not having Nathan (Shearer) in the line-up killed. He would have helped us in the middle." Shearer missed the match because of academic problems.

Elsewhere, pins by Nick Richmond (171) and Joe Ginther (275) helped McGuffey hand Shaler its first loss of the season in a match at Keystone Oaks. In Class AA, West Greene used wins by L.J. Kennedy (135), Mike Eddy (152) and John Kasecky (275) to upset No. 2 Southmoreland, 32-21. In other semifinal match at Trinity, pins by Mike Mousetis (135) and Scott Belcastro (160) lifted No. 1 Washington to a 41-17 victory over Burgettstown.

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