The Hempfield wrestling team has decided as a collective to not participate in the Section 2, Class-3A wrestling team tournament next week and also will not be eligible for the WPIAL Class 3A team tournament, according to a report by Paul Schofield of the Tribune-Review.
Coach Vince DeAugustine told Pittsburgh Tribune-Review the undefeated Spartans have chosen to pull out of the team postseason due to concerns related to COVID-19.
The program doesn’t have any active cases presently, but there were growing fears of potentially contracting the virus during the team tournament, which would then force the program to shut down and miss the individual portion of the postseason.
“We looked at the pros and cons of entering the team tournament, and we felt that it was in our best interest to not send our student-athletes,” DeAugustine said to Paul Schofield of the Tribune-Review. “An exposure this late in the season could potentially shut down our team for the individual tournaments.”
“Travel and potential contact played a big role in this decision. While we recognize that we can be exposed at any time, the coaching staff and wrestlers felt that the bad outweighed the good in this situation.”
DeAugustine said the coaching staff and team met Wednesday and agreed this was the proper decision. They then presented it to athletic director Brandon Rapp and Superintendent Dr. Tammy Wolicki who agreed with the decision.
“Brandon and Dr. Wolicki supported the decision,” DeAugustine said. “We look forward to getting back to the team championship next season.”
Hempfield won the 2020 Section 1 title by defeating Kiski Area.
No. 3-ranked Hempfield (9-0 overall) finished 4-0 in Section 2B with wins over Norwin, Latrobe, Greensburg Salem and McKeesport. Similarly, the Spartans are coming off a fourth-place finish at the 54th Annual Powerade Tournament last weekend, Jan. 29-30. T
Isaiah Vance, the Hempfield heavyweight, was the star of Powerade for the Spartans, not only did he take home the title, but also he committed to wrestle at Army West Point. Three other Spartans’ grapplers placed within the top four spots at their respective weights as well.
Progress…but not satisfied pic.twitter.com/1wL4KGQ1AP
— Hempfield Area Wrestling (@HasdWrestling) January 31, 2021
WPIAL wrestling committee chairman Frank Vulcano Jr. said WPIAL officials reached out to other teams in the section about replacing Hempfield, but none wanted to enter.
“Obviously, we would have preferred Hempfield would have stayed in because we want the best teams in the tournament,” Vulcano said to Schofield. “But we have to move on.”
The WPIAL team championships will be held Feb. 13.
The WPIAL individual postseason will begin Feb. 16-18 with the subsection tournaments, followed by the section championships Feb. 19-20 and the WPIAL championships Feb. 20 (Class AA) and Feb. 27 (Class AAA). The WPIAL championships for both classes will be held at Canon-McMillan.
The Class AA Southwest Regionals will be Feb. 27 at IUP. The West Super Regionals will be held for Class AAA and AA on March 6, followed by the PIAA championships March 12-13 in Hershey.
Below is a look at Monday’s schedule for the section wrestling tournaments.
Class 3A (AAA)
Section 1 (at Kiski Area)
Penn-Trafford (11-6) at Kiski Area (8-3), 6 p.m.; Franklin Regional (17-3) vs. Armstrong (2-1), 6 p.m.
Section 2 (at Thomas Jefferson)
Norwin (4-1) vs. Connellsville (1-3), 6 p.m.
Thomas Jefferson (8-1), bye
Section 3 (at Seneca Valley)
Mars (4-13) at Seneca Valley (16-1), 6 p.m.; North Allegheny (11-1) vs. Butler (12-2), 6 p.m.
Section 4 (at Waynesburg)
Mt. Lebanon (2-14) at Waynesburg (8-0), 6 p.m.; Peters Township (9-1) vs. Canon-McMillan (7-4)
Class 2A (AA)
Section 1 (at Burgettstown)
McGuffey (4-1) at Burgettstown (9-0), 6 p.m.; Beth-Center (13-1) vs. Fort Cherry (8-6), 6 p.m.
Section 2 (at Laurel)
Montour (4-1) at Laurel (13-3), 6 p.m.; Quaker Valley (10-5) vs. Freedom (10-2), 6 p.m.
Section 3 (at Valley)
Burrell (7-1) vs. Derry (5-7), 6 p.m.; Mt. Pleasant (9-5) at Valley (2-2), 6 p.m.
*Section championship matches will immediately follow the first-round matches.