HERSHEY – It was easy to miss if you weren’t paying attention.
The other three mats were filled with wrestlers warming up for their upcoming dual meet in the PIAA Class AA Team Tournament at the Giant Center in Hershey Thursday afternoon.
On Mat 2, they were still going toe-to-toe.
A close bout?
It was pretty much decided by the midway point.
Burgettstown was going to lose to powerful Chestnut Ridge, 56-12, in the first round of the Class AA event.
What the Blue Devils were not going to lose was their self-respect. Chestnut Ridge, ranked fourth in the state, was not going to get a roll-over-and-die performance from the Blue Devils.
It might not seem like much, but it meant a lot to the wrestlers, coaches and fans from Burgettstown.
“We came out and saw one of the top teams in the state,” said Burgettstown head coach Joey Vigliotti. “We showed up. As a coach, I can’t complain about the effort. It was there. I saw a lot of their guys gassed in the third period and our kids were still going. They had a little more muscle than us. More technique. But we were ready to go.”
This is Burgettstown’s first trip to the state tournament, an accomplishment made possible by finishing runner-up to Burrell in the WPIAL Team Tournament.
The Blue Devis won three bouts. Shane Kemper won a hard-fought 2-0 decision over Luke Moore at the starting weight of 152 pounds. D.J. Slovick won a 6-2 decision over Balzer Bowman at 170 pounds and heavyweight Riley Kemper looked good in pinning Noah Smith in 33 seconds.
“It’s not my first time here,” said Shane Kemper. “It gets easier every time I come here. But it’s not about the arena. It’s more about the way we wrestle.
“I was pretty happy with everyone’s efforts. I still think we could have made it a little closer. They had some late falls on us that blew the score out of proportion. I feel we could have kept it a little closer.”
Burgettstown wrestles Hamburg in this morning’s 8 a.m. consolation round.
Burgettstown might have made history when Vigliotti sent Autumn Snatchko out to wrestle Kai Burkett in the 113-pound bout. Snatchko was pinned in 34 seconds. She is believed to be the first female from Washington County to compete in this tournament.
“I was kind of nervous but beside that, I was ready to go,” said Snatchko, a sophomore who has a 2-5 record. “My goal was not to get pinned but that didn’t happen.”