As the public address announcer at North Allegheny was reading the names of the winners at the inaugural WPIAL girls wrestling tournament, Pine-Richland junior Tiffany Gathers heard a phrase that put the day in perspective.

"As they were going through the weights, he kept saying ‘This is the first-ever WPIAL girls champion,” and I was like, ‘Wow, we’re really a part of history. This is so cool.’” Gathers said.

It was a historic day across the WPIAL landscape, and Gathers and Brynn Bosack hit first-time milestones for Pine-Richland.

They became the first two female wrestlers from Pine-Richland to qualify for regionals.

Gathers finished fifth at 148 pounds and Bosack (155) placed sixth, locking them into the regional event March 2 at Canon-McMillan.

The top four in each weight class are guaranteed spots in the state tournament. Some weight classes could have more than four advance to states, depending on the amount of wrestlers that qualify from other regions.

Pine-Richland likely would’ve had a third qualifier for regionals in Giada Campanella, but she suffered an injury in the Rams’ final dual meet and wasn’t able to participate in the WPIAL tournament. She finished with an 18-10 record.

Bosack and Gathers had to climb through the consolation bracket to earn their spot at regionals.

Gathers, a junior, won her first-round match via a pin but fell in the quarterfinals. She secured consecutive pins in the consolation bracket and then received a forfeit in the fifth-place match.

"I just kept the mindset that I was going to try my best and believe in what I can do and not worry so much about the outcome,” Gathers said. "We had been working on our moves for months, so I was more worried about competing to the best of my ability.”

Bosack, a sophomore, lost her first match but rebounded to win the next two. She fell in the fifth-place match, but her place at regionals was already secured by that point.

"I lost the first match, but I felt like it almost helped me win the rest of my matches, because I knew that if I lost, I’d be done,” Bosack said. "It pushed me to try my best and keep going.”

The way each one finished their day was a microcosm of their season as a whole. With girls wrestling in its infancy, most of the wrestlers are learning on the fly.

That was the case for Bosack and Gathers, who are both first-year wrestlers.

Pine-Richland coach Tommy Campanella is proud of the progress each one of the wrestlers he’s training has made.

"What we preach in the room is worry about the process and not the outcome,” Campanella said. "Going back through the stats and seeing the win-loss records at the beginning of the season, it was loss, loss, loss, win, loss, loss and by the end of the season it was win, win, win, loss, win.

"When you see all those W’s toward the end, that’s the process working. It doesn’t matter how you start the season. It’s how you end. It’s been absolutely surreal. Aside from the results on the mat, what these girls show me every day is their resiliency, strength and perseverance. That’s absolutely amazing.”

Bosack did not participate in any high school sport prior to wrestling. She said she was encouraged by a friend to try the sport.

"Ever since I tried it, I’ve loved it ever since,” Bosack said.

Gathers is a member of the Pine-Richland girls volleyball team and previously played basketball in the winter, but was intrigued by wrestling, so she decided to make the switch.

"I just thought it was a really cool thing,” Gathers said. "It’s a combat sport and something I wanted to try. I decided to give it a go and it’s been something I’m really glad I did. It’s been fun learning the sport. I’ve fallen in love with it.”

Now they’ll look to continue their journey by advancing to states. Regardless of if they accomplish that feat or not, they know they’ve laid the foundation for the future.

"This whole experience has been awesome,” Gathers said. "From having our first-ever home match in Pine-Richland history and on, it’s been really cool.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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