Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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Joe Tuscano/Observer-Reporter

The cheering section for Seneca Valley’s wrestling team was nearly empty for Saturday’s WPIAL Class AAA Team Tournament championship match.

In my 40 years of covering wrestling for this newspaper, I have handled some amazing stories in the sport.

There was the time a wrestling coach got suspended for bringing a handgun to a match.

Another time, a school board attempting to fire the basketball coach opened all the winter coaching positions so they would not have to singularly fire the boys basketball coach.

Problem was, the wrestling season wasn’t completed and by opening the positions, the school board didn’t allow the head coach to practice because he was no longer under the school’s insurance coverage and thus unable to hold practices. The school board had to hold an emergency meeting to rehire the wrestling coach and continue the season.

There was the emotional woman in the stands, who came out onto the wrestling mat because she didn’t like an official’s call and swatted the official on the head with her purse. The incident left the official stunned and the woman under arrest.

Many of these stories leave us shaking our heads or holding back a smile at the circumstances.

But Saturday’s WPIAL Class AAA Team Tournament championship at Canon-McMillan High School didn’t leave many people smiling. In fact, the actions of Seneca Valley’s wrestling team left many people angry and frustrated.

The Raiders, who were wrestling Waynesburg for the team title, intentionally held out most of their top wrestlers. The result was a 67-3 blowout and a smudge on the sport.

It was the largest defeat in the history of this event.

Alejandro Herrera-Rondon, who won two state titles, Antonio Amelio, Chanz Shearer and a handful of other starters did not compete for Seneca Valley, which was ranked second in most wrestling polls.

Seneca Valley head coach Kevin Wildrick dodged questions about the situation.

“We put the best guys we could put out there,” said Wildrick after the dual meet. “I can’t speak on any one individual. I don’t know how many starters were not out there.”

If Seneca Valley did not want to compete, it should have done what a handful of other schools did and pull out of the tournament.

The decision to hold out wrestlers had to be made before the match.

How do we know this?

Only four people were sitting in the Seneca Valley cheering section. Either the Raiders have the worst fan following or everyone knew they were going to turn over like a dead fish well before this match took place.

The decision to hold better wrestlers out of the starting lineup is not new. It happens all the time. Sending out reserves against Waynesburg, the top-ranked team and state runnerup last year, was disastrous. Waynesburg got six pins, two technical falls and two forfeits.

If Seneca Valley didn’t want to wrestle, then the Raiders should have pulled out. Connellsville, the team Seneca Valley beat in the semifinals, would have loved to compete.

Even if the outcome was the same, Connellsville would have at least been respected.

Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at jtuscano@observer-reporter.com.

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