Before the first bout, Washington High School’s wrestling team has already had a successful team tournament.
For the first times since 2006, the Prexies earned a berth in the sport’s team portion of the postseason.
Wash High will wrestle Beth-Center at 6 p.m. in tonight’s first round of the WPIAL Class AA Section 1 Team Tournament at Burgettstown High School.
The Blue Devils wrestle McGuffey in the other first-round dual meet. The winners of these first-round matches will wrestle for the section title at 7:30 p.m., while the losers of the first-round matches square off for third and fourth place.
The two third-place teams in the subsections – Bentworth and South Park – wrestle for fifth place.
“When we came into the season, our numbers were up, so we knew we had a chance of getting there,” said Washington head coach Adrian Turner, who has been with the program since 2009. “This is where we wanted to be. The last time I was in the (postseason), I was wrestling for Burgettstown. And that was 1983. So it’s a good feeling.”
Here’s the good part for Washington. Win or lose tonight, the Prexies will have a spot in next week’s WPIAL Class AA Team Tournament.
The top five teams from each of the three section tournaments in Class AA qualify for the WPIAL Team Tournament. So either Bentworth or South Park will be eliminated. The rest of the teams are battling for seeding positions.
“I told the kids to enjoy the ride right now,” Turner said. “It’s something we haven’t done before. It’s awesome, just great.”
Section titles will be decided in all seven wrestling sections, including Class AAA Section 4, when Canon-McMillan hosts Waynesburg, Trinity and South Fayette.
Washington reached this point by finishing tied with South Park in the subsection with 2-2 records. Because the Prexies won the regular-season meeting, they earned the second-place spot and South Park was third.
That Wash High would be in this position is a success story in itself, considering the illustrious program had been on life support for more than a decade and even came under the scrutiny of the school board because of the lack of numbers.
At one point, the board considered ending the program or creating a co-op with Trinity but decided to limp along. Last year, there were five wrestlers on the roster. This year, the number is 16.
“We convinced the kids in the junior high to come out and give it a try,” Turner said. “We got some of the football players to come out. We have every weight but 132 and 145 filled. It’s a big turnaround and the school board is happy.”
Now, the numbers are up and other teams in the subsection are going through tough times. Wash High took advantage and ended the postseason drought.
“The future looks real good now,” said Turner. “Things are looking up. The gym has been rocking here for our matches.”