Wrestler Paul Dunn gets 100th win on the mat

Russell Finelsen, Staff Writer, Assistant Editor, Sports Editor

It has been a great senior year for wrestler Paul Dunn. He placed second at the Eastern Area tournament, and fifth at the Powerade Tournament, before placing first at the 160 pound level at the Allegheny County Wrestling Championships. In addition, he was able to get his 100th win on the mat at the Powerade Tournament. Even though he faced many tough opponents on the mat, his biggest rival was the one closest to him.

Nine days before Christmas in 2013, Dunn’s father, Paul Dunn Jr., died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 49. To Paul, it was a disaster. “My whole world came crashing down that day. (His death) really did come out of nowhere. My dad took me to all my practices and came to all my matches. He taught me a lot. We bonded over wrestling,” Dunn said to The Almanac. Dunn and his dad were very close, and grew to love wrestling together. “My dad and I went to a family friends’ match and we sort of just got into [wrestling] that way. He never forced me into the sport. But, I love it…[my dad] was proud of me, whether I won or lost.”

Dunn said that he “learned how to work hard from both my parents. They taught me that I have to work to get what I want and that school is the most important thing.” He has taken that to heart. He has a 4.0 GPA, and has written for the newspaper and volunteered at wrestling camps, where he has learned a few things himself. Next year, he will go to Lehigh University, where he will seek a business degree while still wrestling for the team, trying to get the most wins that he can.

At the Powerade Tournament, Dunn pinned his first two matches against Louie Rentler (Mt. Lebanon) and Garrett Neff (Council Rock).  He lost to Josh Shields (Franklin Regional), the eventual champion, in the quarterfinals. He then was able to pin Trent Crouse (Chestnut Ridge) for a victory, and then beat Devin Austin (Penn-Trafford) to get his 100th win. Even though Austin beat Dunn earlier in the year, Dunn was able to avenge it and take control. He finished his milestone night by beating Noah Stewart (Mifflin County) to earn fifth place in the tournament.

Dunn has also gotten other accolades. Last year, he finished third in the PIAA Class AAA Championships. To start off the 2014-2015 season, Dunn was able to place second at the Eastern Area Tournament behind fellow teammate Nino Bonaccorsi. Then, this year, Dunn placed first at the Allegheny County Tournament, and carried the team to a sixth place finish out of 36 teams.

Dunn was honored at the Bethel Park/Mt. Lebanon match on January 14, and felt very happy for it. “I felt very honored to be mentioned at the [Mt.] Lebanon match. It was a gratifying [moment] getting my 100th win [and to be honored at the match],” Dunn said.

Dunn joins 14 other BP wrestlers who have gotten 100 wins over their career. He is the first Bethel Park wrestler since Dylan Mogan in 2012 to pass the century mark. Mike Toth was the first wrestler ever in Bethel Park history to get 100 victories. “It is a honor [to be a part of this club],” Dunn said.

Dunn is currently 6th on the all-time win list with 115 wins. He is seven wins behind Anthony Bonaccorsi, who has 122 wins.

Dunn has said that he wants to become an All-American when he attends Lehigh University. However, he first has to worry about winning a PIAA title and a WPIAL crown. Last year, he qualified by finishing third in the district at 152 lbs. This year, he will be at the 160 lb class, where he will have to face Josh Shields, Devin Austin, and David Hollingsfield. Shields finished second last year, while Hollingsfield placed third at the Powerade Tournament. The good thing: Dunn beat Hollingsfield in the consolation match last year. “The 160-weight class is one of the toughest in the WPIAL,” Dunn said to The Almanac. “You have to be on top of your game every match.”

Even though Dunn has gotten an important milestone, he still has his weaknesses. He specified that he struggles “when [he] strays from the focus of my plan.” Dunn also said that he is “definitely trying to improve on my feet but still solidifying my mat wrestling.”

Even though his father does not sit in the stands anymore to watch Dunn pin down rival after rival, Dunn knows that he still has to keep fighting and winning. “My dad was my biggest inspiration,” he said to The Almanac. “My dad always inspires my to push harder. He would tell me to keep going. Go until the last buzzer sounds. Never give up. Keep working and you’ll get to where you want to be.”

Click here for a recent Post-Gazette article on Paul Dunn.