Bellwood advances three wrestlers in surprising weekend


Terry McCaulley

Junior Ethan Norris was the surprise of the District 6 tournament with a second place finish at 215.

Cooper Guyer, Sports Editor

Bellwood-Antis wrestling has faced many hardships in the 2021-22 wrestling season. However, this weekend was crucial in lifting the spirits of the program in the short and long term future.

Against all odds, 3 B-A wrestlers earned top 6 honors at the District 6 tournament, advancing them to the regional tournament in 2 weeks at Peters Township High School in Pittsburgh. Xander Shank placed 3rd at 152, Ethan Norris placed 2nd at 215, and Aarron Laird placed 6th at heavyweight.

None of the wrestlers were seeded to advance past the District tournament, making the weekend all the more surprising for the Blue Devils.

Xander Shank at 152 went 5-1 on the weekend, defeating the 3rd and 2nd seed on his way to a 3rd place finish as a 9 seed. “It felt great,” Shank exclaimed. “It took extra importance to me because its my senior year and my last chance to make states.”

Next, Ethan Norris took the tournament by storm at 215 with a Cinderella run to the finals and a 2-1 loss to Forest Hills’ Kirk Bearjar. Norris was one penalty point away from being the first B-A district champion since Jared Woomer in 2012, and he did it as a 7th seed. Norris’ performance was so significant, the Altoona Mirror did a feature story on him. Norris told the Mirror, “Ive been working hard with my team all season and I’m glad its paying off finally after the coaching changes and other adversity.”

Finally, Aarron Laird placed 6th at Heavyweight as an 11th seed. Aarron has battled through injury all year with nagging shoulder issues and made it through one of the toughest districts in the state with a 3-2 record on the weekend.

Laird was able to earn a pin in the sixth place finals to advance.

Senior Julius Diossa just missed a top finish when he was pinned in controversial fashion on Day 1. Junior Jason Pluebell made it to Day 2 but did not advance.