Central Cambria freshman Max Murin was the only area wrestler to capture gold Saturday during the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
The 106-pounder edged out Penn Cambria’s Nolan Link 2-0 in the bracket’s championship bout.
The match was scoreless until the very end, when Murin (35-0) scored a reversal just before the buzzer sounded to end the third period.
“(Link) is a tough opponent,” Murin said. “It’s nice that we both made it to the final. We just keep making each other better, which is nice.”
And about that dramatic reversal.
“I just saw an opportunity, so I try to take it when I can.”
Link, 29-8 on the season, nearly worked his way into points during the second period when near-escapes were thwarted by Murin regaining his grip on the Penn Cambria junior and maintaining control.
“I just tried my best to hold him down and that’s what I accomplished,” Murin said.
Murin dispatched South Park’s Dallas Bulsak 6-2 in the morning’s semifinal match and Link pinned Chestnut Ridge’s Aaron Burkett at 5:01.
Burrell won the team title with 98 points. Jefferson-Morgan’s 90 points easily outdistanced South Fayette (69) for third. Valley sat in fourth with 62 points, while Bedford finished fifth with 56.5 points.
Chestnut Ridge (54) and Cambria Heights (49) were also in the top 10 with the Lions tied for sixth with Huntingdon and the Highlanders in a tie for eighth with Southmoreland and Penns Valley.
Forest Hills’ Triston Law (120), Cambria Heights’ Levi Niebauer (160) and United’s Tyler Oliver (195) also reached championship bouts, but took second in their respective weight classes.
Law, who decisioned Berlin Brothersvalley’s Joe Swank in the semifinals at 120, fell to Derry Area’s George Phillippi 8-2.
Niebauer, a 5-3 overtime winner over Berlin’s Bryce Fochtman in the semis, battled South Fayette’s Jared Walker through two scoreless periods before an early reversal from Walker gave the District 7 champion a 2-0 lead. Walker held off Niebauer to secure the 2-0 win.
“The match was pretty close the whole time,” Niebauer said. “I just couldn’t get to my feet (after the reversal). Other than that, it was a good match.”
Niebauer, the District 6 champion, still punched his ticket to Hershey by reaching the final.
“I still made it, so that’s all that matters,” Niebauer said.
Oliver gave up a technical point before knotting the score on a technical point against HOPE for Hyndman’s James Bennett in the second period of their championship match at 195.
Bennett then worked a reversal just before the second period ended to gain a 3-1 lead. Oliver’s escape in the third drew him closer, but Bennett held the Lions junior off for a 3-2 decision.
“I’m proud of the way I performed (Saturday),” Oliver said. “Sometimes, matches don’t go your way. I’ve got next week and just keep working hard and anything can happen at states.”
Kittanning’s Jason Nolf became the fifth wrestler to win four southwest region titles when he pinned Burrell’s Corey Falleroni in 2:58.
Southmoreland’s Austin Griffiths decisioned Burgettstown’s Austin McDermitt 7-1 in their final at 113. Jefferson-Morgan’s John Demaske took the title at 126 by decisioning Valley’s Patrick Dewitt 4-2.
South Fayette’s Mike Carr won the 132-pound championship by blanking John Andrejcik 5-0.
South Park’s John Wentzel (138) pinned Jefferson-Morgan’s Jason Miller at 3:30.
Burrell’s Steve Edwards edged Blairsville’s Andrew Doak 3-2 in an ultimate tiebreaker to top the podium at 152. Avella’s Jake Temple won by the same score and circumstance at 220 over West Branch’s Buzzy Maines.
In the 170 final, Penns Valley’s Corey Hazel pinned Jefferson-Morgan’s Bill Bowlen in 3:05.
Terrell Fields’ 7-3 decision over Blairsville’s Scott Thompson earned the Valley senior the 182-pound title. At 285, Burrell’s Aaron Beattie decisioned Jake Beistel 3-0 to take gold.
Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.