Waller overcomes fever to win Southwest Regional
Shaler's Troy Letters takes down Erick Eyth of Mt. Pleasant on his way to becoming the 130lbs WPIAL and Southwest AAA regional champion during the match at Chartiers Valley. (Allison Corbett/Tribune-Review photo)By Paul Schofield
Mt. Pleasant wrestler Rob Waller has overcome so much during his high school career. It's becoming an old habit. During Saturday night's PIAA Class AAA Southwest Regional at Chartiers Valley, the Mt. Pleasant senior overcame another obstacle - the flu.
Despite running 101-degree temperature, Waller was superb in defeating Kiski Area's Joe Chirafisi, 9-3, to win the 160-pound title, his two consecutive regional titles, and secure the team title for Mt. Pleasant. "Winning the regional title was nice, but my goal is a state title," Waller said. "This title was for the team and my dad. He deserves this title."
Waller became ill at 3 p.m. while at dinner. "I told him champions overcome adversity," said coach Rob Waller. "He knew his victory would secure the team title. There was no doubt in my mind that he would win.
Mt. Pleasant edged out Shaler, 62 ½-61 ½ for the team title. McGuffey, which defeated Mt. Pleasant in the WPIAL team tournament finals, finished ninth. "I still think we're the best team in the WPIAL," the elder Waller said. "I think we proved that this weekend."
Coach Waller, whose spirits were down when the finals began, was a lot happier when the night ended thanks to his son and Norwin's Jason Staso. Staso 6-2 victory over Shaler's D.J. Schilling in the 135-pound match helped Mt. Pleasant win the team title.
Trinity's Andy Migyanko captured his third consecutive regional title by defeating Derry's Mike May, 6-0, at 112. "It's a privilege to join that group," said Migyanko, Trinity's fourth three-time winner. "This was the toughest of the three. I met some good competition that will help me next week."
Greensburg Salem had two champions - Greg Jones at 125 and George Carter at 140. Jones posted a 5-2 victory over Canon-McMillan's Brad Mockler. Jones, who also defeated Mockler in the Manheim tournament in December, used a takedown with 1:05 left in the match to break a 1-1 tie. "I'm satisfied with the tournament," Jones said. "The competition was tough and if I wrestle this well next week, I'll be OK."
Carter captured his second regional title with a 6-4 victory against McGuffey's Jim Hanning.
Other winners included Chartiers Valley's Brian Hutton (103), Waynesburg's Mike Seybold (119), Shaler's Troy Letters (130), North Allegheny's Brendan O'Connell (145), Connellsville's Matt King (152), McGuffey's Nick Richmond (171), Franklin Regional's Mark Shrout (189) and Kiski Area's Clay McKendree (275).
Letters was the talk of the tournament. The freshman put on an impressive show in winning the 130-pound weight class. He defeated Mt. Pleasant's Erick Eyth, 11-4, in the finals. "I'm surprised how well I did," Letters said. "My goal was just to qualify for states. I never thought I'd win it. Now I'd like to place at states."
Staso's victory was also surprising to some, but not to his coach Rick Svec. "It's the best I've ever seen him wrestle," said Svec. "He's my first regional champion and did a superb job. Jason has been in the shadows of Billy Smith and Bill Selembo. He stepped it up and got noticed now."
"I'm looking forward to Hershey," Staso said. "My confidence is up, and I should so well."