Wrestling team continues rebuilding the program


JM Weber Photography

Shaler Area battles with Gateway on the mat.

Matt Purucker

It was an up and down season for the Shaler Area Varsity Wrestling team. While their dual meet record was not as good as they hoped, the team saw improvement in the program considering it had four wrestlers two years ago and was fielding a competitive team this year.

The most difficult challenge for the team was having to concede weight classes due to a lack of wrestlers and that stifled their ability to win dual meets. Out of the 16 wrestlers on the team, 11 were first-year varsity wrestlers, and they could only compete in 11 of the 13 weight classes. However, that did not prevent individual wrestlers from having remarkable years.

“Wrestling at the varsity level in the WPIAL is really difficult. It is the most competitive area in the United States. We struggled a little bit in dual meets, but we wrestled better in the tournaments,” Coach Drew D’agostino said.

Everyone really improved throughout the season, which I think is a better metric to measure success, rather than wins and losses alone.

— Michael Ulery

Attending Shady Side Academy, Vito Barraveccio cooperated with Shaler Area and led the team with 25 wins as a freshman and qualified for the WPIAL Championships, along with fellow freshman Carter Tunstall, junior Jacob Cable, and junior Michael Ulery.

“I made it to day two of the WPIAL tournament. It was a thrilling experience competing against the best of the best. It’s really tough,” Ulery said. “You are surrounded by so many good opponents. It’s so educational to see what the really good people are doing and exciting just to be in the thrill of it all.”

Some seniors also posted solid seasons despite not qualifying for the WPIAL Championships. Ethan Gross improved from just three wins his sophomore year to nearly 20 his senior year, and Nevio Deleonibus likely would have qualified for WPIALs if not for injuring his elbow in the section qualifier.

The team finished its season at the WPIAL Championships on March 3-4. Ulery and Barraveccio each took 4th place, while Tunstall and Cable each took 5th place in their respective weight classes.

“Everyone really improved throughout the season, which I think is a better metric to measure success, rather than wins and losses alone,” Ulery said. “The coaches that I had were very instrumental in my success as a wrestler in improving, since this is my sixth year and I already have a lot of experience. There’s always new moves to learn and ways to get better in this sport.”

With the relative youth of the team, the future looks bright for Shaler Area wrestling as it continues to rebuild the program.

“We have some good kids coming up from our middle school program. We had seven state qualifiers at that level, so we are looking forward to getting some of those kids into the fold. We should be pretty competitive next year with our senior leadership,” Coach D’agostino said.