FOX CHAPEL — Austin Leon wasn't going to let his past disappointments hold him back. Having a familiar opponent for the Section 3-AAA wrestling finals helped.
The 152-pound Seneca Valley junior was paired against Butler's Jeremiah Bortmas, who Leon has competed against since eighth grade.
Leon exorcised some demons — both for himself and the Seneca Valley program — when he rode a first-period takedown to a 7-3 win Saturday night at Fox Chapel High School.
With his win, Leon became the first Raider wrestler to win a section title since Zack Eckstrom won at 285 pounds during the 2007-08 season.
“It felt good because I made it to the finals my freshman year and didn't win,” Leon said. “I wrestled a bad tournament last year and ended up taking fifth. So it felt good to come back this year, make the finals and beat that kid.”
Leon and Bortmas were two of 16 area wrestlers who punched their tickets to the WPIAL Class AAA Championships. Butler's Will Bortmas (220 pounds) was the only other local title winner.
The Golden Tornado were the most successful area team, advancing eight wrestlers to WPIALs, which start Thursday at Canon-McMillan High School. Seneca Valley will send six, while Mars had two qualify.
For Leon, his win in the finals gave him some extra bragging rights. Jeremiah Bortmas and Leon had split their two regular-season matches. Leading 3-2 in the third period after allowing Bortmas to escape, Leon scored a reversal and nearfall in the final 90 seconds to secure the win.
With their prior history, there's not much Leon can do to catch his rival off-guard.
“(I tried to) open up my opportunities, but it's kind of hard,” said Leon, who improved his record to 23-7. “We know each other's styles and what moves we like. You have to wait and not make mistakes and wait for your opportunities.”
Alex Lynch (106), Nick Zoria (126), Stephen Rudolf (160) and Tyler Miller (220) moved on for Seneca Valley. Zoria, who finished fourth, picked up his 100th win with a 7-2 decision over Louis Stefanik in the first round. He now has 101 career wins.
“Overall, I think we had a good tournament. There were no big surprises in the negative, which is nice coming into a tournament like this,” Raiders coach Kevin Wildrick said. “We expected to have the section finalists and the guys that made it through, we had good expectations for those guys.”
Alex Grosso (220) and Trey Turnblacer (285) qualified for Mars.
Section 3-AAA Tournament results
(Top five in each weight class qualify for WPIALs)
106: Gage Curry (NH) maj. dec. Hunter Baxter (PR), 14-2
113: Luke Landefeld (NA) tech. fall Ben Lynch (SV), 15-0
120: Scott Stossel (NA) dec. Mike Heinl (SH), 3-2
126: Dom Forys (NA) pin Tommy Zummo (PL), 4:41
132: Jake Hartman (SH) maj. dec. Jake Hinkson (NA), 10-2
138: Vincenzo Joseph (CC) pin David Kelly (PR), 3:37
145: Tony Palumbo (CC) dec. Eric Green (PL), 4-3 UTB
152: Austin Leon (SV) dec. Jeremiah Bortmas (B), 7-3
160: Bredan Burnham (PR) dec. Jonathan Avon (NH), 3-2
170: Kyle Coniker (CC) dec. Brandon Olszewski (H), 9-3
182: Clay Byerly (NA) dec. Ryan Hannon (B), 3-2 OT
195: Zach Smith (NA) tech. fall Nathan Turchick (PL), 15-0
220: Will Bortmas (B) pin Rich Giovenetti (F), 1:41
285: Stephen Turchick (PL) dec. JD Bojanac (B), 6-0
106: Alex Lynch (SV) dec. Zach Stedeford (NA), 2-0
113: Patrick Keyser (H) dec. Alex Salas (PR), 6-2
120: Kegan Lawson (NH) dec. Dom Davido (PL), 5-2
126: Louis Stefanik (CC) pin Nick Zoria (SV), 2:46
132: Darius Booker (F) maj. dec. David Badamo (NH), 11-2
138: Cody Houston (B) dec. A.J. Boeh (NA), 12-8
145: Drew Landefeld (NA) dec. Jordan McGonigle (SH), 3-1
152: John Cole (CC) dec. Luke Nugent (H), 3-1
160: Stephen Rudolph (SV) dec. Jake Woodley (NA), 4-0
170: Andrew McRandal (PL) dec. Mike Mahon (F), 5-2
182: Elliot King (NH) dec. Hunter Fenk (PL), 3-1
195: Keegan Harris (PR) dec. Alex White (B), 7-0
220: Tyler Miller (SV) dec. Alex Grosso (M), 5-3
285: Eli Swain (NH) pin Adisa Branch (CC), 4:00
106: Mike Nagy (CC) dec. Anthony DiNinno (PL), 3-1
113: John MacPherson (NH) dec. Andrew Kopco (F), 7-4
120: Scott Dietrich (B) pin Alex Fischer (SV), 2:02
126: Austin Pisano (F) dec. Connor Foust (B), 2-0
132: Mason Kauffman (B) dec. Joe Lehman (H), 3-0
138: Austin Heinl (SH) dec. Zain Skalos (SV), 6-1
145: David Tuzikow (NH) maj. dec. Derrin Deitz (F), 13-2
152: Corey Mahon (F) by forfeit
160: Gus Schmitt (H) pin Tristan Houser (F), 2:30
170: Jimmy Demore (SH) pin David Tallman (NA), 3:38
182: Mike Geyer (PR) dec. Mike Geyer (PR), 5-2
195: Jake Kraus (H) pin Devon Cuda (NH), :53
220: Michael Bonsmann (NH) dec. Nathan Hoff (PL), 8-1
285: Tyler Miller (SV) dec. Alex Grosso (M), 5-3