The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 1, 2014

Red Devils’ Murin remains unbeaten in AA Southwest tourney

Shawn Curtis
scurtis@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — While wrestling in the lowest possible varsity weight class, it appears that there isn’t a stage too big for Central Cambria freshman Max Murin.

At least that’s what he’s shown during the first day of the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

Murin, now 33-0 on the year and ranked second in the state, made quick work of his two opponents Friday, pinning Ellwood City’s Tyler Alberts in 1:31 before taking down Somerset’s Quinn Cole in 3:23.

“It feels good. I had a lot of tough competition,” Murin said. “Its feels good having no losses, but I have a couple of tough kids coming up, so we’ll see what happens.”

He’ll face South Park’s Dallas Bulsak in one of two semifinals at 106. Chestnut Ridge’s Aaron Burkett and Penn Cambria’s Nolan Link see each other in the bracket’s other semifinal.

“He’s confident. He’s wrestling very well,” Central Cambria coach Bob Nikolishen said. “He’s determined to be at the top of the podium. It’s tough for anybody to deny the kid of what he wants.”

Burrell and Huntingdon are tied atop the team standings with 41 points. Jefferson-Morgan is third with 36. Chestnut Ridge (35) and South Fayette (30) round out the top five.

Bedford’s Ryan Easter, a four-time District 5 champion, was upset in his quarterfinal bout by Burrell’s John Andrejcik. The Buccaneers’ senior beat Easter 2-1 in a tiebreaker.

Easter stayed alive with a 9-1 major decision over Moshannon Valley’s Bryce Bloom.

“The main thing is to keep moving forward,” Easter said. “I didn’t wrestle my best in the first match. I got that one out of the way, so it was good to keep back on track ... I felt more myself in that match (against Bloom).”

Chestnut Ridge, which brought eight wrestlers to the tournament, has three in the semifinals with Burkett at 106, Conner Buttry at 182 and Austin Buttry at 285.

The Lions also have one other wrestler alive in the consolation brackets heading into today. Derrick Claar staved off elimination by defeating Central’s Nick Hoenstine 9-0.

“We had a lot of good,” Chestnut Ridge coach Greg Lazor said. “We have Burkett and the two Buttry boys in the semifinals. All three wrestled nice and looked tough.”

Richland’s Nico Pecora topped Somerset’s Landon Lohr in their quarterfinal at 170, giving the Rams senior another win in the rivalry between the two.

“Each time we wrestle, in between that, I just got to keep getting better and make sure he’s not catching up at all,” Pecora said. “He took me down right away, but it didn’t phase me. I used the whole six minutes to come back and I eventually came out on top.”

Richland’s Nick Naglic decisioned Trent Crouse 7-2 in a second-round consolation bout, eliminating the District 5 champion at 145.

Adam George pinned Derry Area’s Stone Kepple in their quarterfinal at 126 to give the Rams three grapplers heading into today’s action.

Jonathan Gabriel won two matches, including a 9-2 quarterfinal decision over Westmont Hilltop’s Logan Blackburn to advance to the semifinals at 113. Forest Hills’ Triston Law and Berlin Brothersvalley’s Joe Swank will face each other in a semifinal at 120. George and Cambria Heights’ Joe Davis each carved their path to semifinal bouts at 126. Meyersdale’s Tanner Hetrick (132), Bedford’s Garrett Thomas (138), Cambria Heights’ Levi Niebauer and Berlin’s Bryce Fochtman (160), Pecora (170), Conner Buttry and Meyersdale’s Gavin Berkley (182), United’s Tyler Oliver (195) and Austin Buttry (285)  are the area’s other semifinalists.

.

Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.