Dunn, Bonaccorsi qualify for PIAA championships

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PIAA

Podium shot of the top 8 152 lb place winners in the 2014 PIAA AAA Championships.

Russell Finelsen, Staff Writer, Assistant Editor, Sports Editor

At the WPIAL AAA Individual Championships at Penn Hills High School, two of BP’s wrestlers showed why they are feared on the mat by so many opponents.

Paul Dunn and Nino Bonaccorsi have qualified for the PIAA Championships in Hershey, Pennsylvania, after each finished in the top four in their respective classes. The championships are this week.

Dunn earned a silver medal in the championships after a great run. However, in the finals, he ran into a wall when he faced Josh Shields from Franklin Regional High School. In the final match, Dunn lost, 17-7.

“My goal was to be WPIAL Champion, but Shields is one of the toughest in the nation,” Dunn said.

Shields, who is ranked second in the entire country, also qualified in District 7 for the PIAA Championships.

“There’s not a whole lot to prepare for a guy like Shields because he is solid in every position,” Dunn said.

Dunn will prepare for the PIAA Championships, as they start on March 5. His first match will be against Noah Stewart from Mifflin County.

“I want to win States,” Dunn said. “[However, I] just need to take it one match at a time. I hope to meet up with Shields at the end.”

Dunn’s coach Bob Stewart reaffirmed that. “Paul had a good [WPIAL] tournament,” B. Stewart said to The Almanac. “He wanted to win gold, but fell short. Josh [Shields] is a great wrestler.”

“Hopefully, Paul gets a chance to wrestle Josh again. This time, [though], for a state gold,” B. Stewart said to The Almanac.

On the other hand, Dunn knows that he will have some tough opponents ahead of him that are not named Josh Shields.

“Position doesn’t really matter that much in the bracket because everyone up at states is there for a reason: They’re tough,” Dunn said. “It does not matter when you wrestle them, you just have to beat everyone sometime to win.”

Dunn’s match against N. Stewart will start at 4 p.m. in the Giant Center.

Meanwhile, Bonaccorsi also did well in the WPIAL Wrestling Individual Championships. Even though he placed fourth in the 152-pound weight class, Bonaccorsi had some rough tests in his path to the consolation finals match.

Bonaccorsi’s toughest test was in the quarterfinals. Against Derek Verkleeren, Bonaccorsi was able to follow through and beat Derek. This was a pivotal match for Bonaccorsi, as it paved the way for his road to Hershey.

“I feel like it was a good match,” Bonaccorsi said. “I wrestled pretty tough overall…everyone is tough and looking to win, but getting in the semis was a great feeling.”

In the consolation finals match, Bonaccorsi faced Ethan Smith. However, the odds were against the BP wrestler, as his record against Smith was 0-2. Unfortunately, Bonaccorsi lost for the third time against Smith in a rigorous contest. Even with the loss, though, Bonaccorsi will advance to the PIAAs.

“I was pretty happy to compete for 3rd and 4th,” Bonaccorsi said. “I knew it was going to be a tough match, but I got mentally and physically prepared just like any other match.”

“Nino [Bonaccorsi] had a good [WPIAL] tournament,” B. Stewart said to The Almanac. “He beat some quality kids. He lost a tough one in the consolation finals, but he still wrestled well. I know he will also be ready to make his mark in Hershey.”

“My goal for states is to wrestle my best and hopefully bring back a medal!” Bonaccorsi said.

Other BP wrestlers who qualified for the WPIAL Individual Tournament but did not advance to the PIAA tournament include Jeremy Huwe, Adam Montgomery, Jason Montgomery, Chris Pauley, and Korey Patterson.

Hopefully, Dunn and Bonaccorsi can do well in the PIAAs and score a state championship.  Follow their path here.