Saturday, January 11, 2014

Top-ranked Blair escapes NHSCA Final Four with championship

by Jeff Fisher
Host, NHSCA Sports Hour
Follow @NHSCARadioShow

The championship match of the 13th annual National High School Coaches Association Final Four Wrestling Festival between top-ranked Blair Academy (Blairstown, NJ) and #5 Wyoming Seminary (Kingston, PA) live-up to its billing and then some.

Blair, which has now won eight straight NHSCA Final Fours, edged the Blue Knights 27-24 in a dual meet that saw the nation’s #1 team in the country trail 21-15 heading into the final four matches at the York Expo Center in York, Pennsylvania.

Seminary took a 21-15 lead in the match after John Busiello defeated Zach Sherman 1-0 at 106 pounds.  Blair regained the lead on three consecutive wins at 113, 120 and 126.  Chas Tucker’s 11-3 major victory at 113 put Blair back in front 22-21.  Matt Kolodzik’s tech fall at 126 brought the match down to the final bout between Blair’s Alex Rinandi and Will Verallis of Seminary.

Verallis needed to pin Rinaldi to send the match to criteria, but all he could manage was a 2-0 decision, which ended an incredible day of wrestling with Blair remaining unbeaten with a 27-24 heart-stopping victory.

Neither Blair nor Wyoming Seminary had much trouble advancing to the championship match.  Blair beat Tunkhannock (Pennsylvania) 79-0 and Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, PA) 67-6 in pool matches, while Wyoming Seminary beat its pool opponents: Benton (Pennsylvania) 55-6, Pennsbury (Pennsylvania) 79-0 and East Stroudsburg South (Pennsylvania) 68-6.

Wyoming Seminary due a bye into the Final Four semifinals where the Blue Knights defeated Spring Grove (Pennsylvania) 62-3 to advance to the championship.  Blair beat Bermudian Springs (Pennsylvania) 57-12 in the quarterfinals and then topped Wyoming Valley West (Pennsylvania) 59-6 to set-up the showdown with Seminary.

The pool champs were: Bermudian Springs, Blair Academy, DePaul Catholic (NJ), Spring Grove, Wyoming Seminary and Wyoming Valley West.

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