Eyes on Canon-Mac wrestling

Published Jan 28, 2013 at 3:40 pm (Updated Jan 29, 2013 at 10:03 am)

The eyes of the wrestling world will be upon Canon-McMillan when the Big Macs open defense of their titles during the WPIAL team tournament.

First-round and quarterfinal action commence at four different locations Jan. 30 with the Big Macs hosting Ringgold, Peters Township and Hampton. While PT wrestles Hampton at 6 p.m. the Big Macs take on the Rams, a 45-21 winner over Central Catholic in a play-in match. The winners face each other at 7:30 p.m. for the right to advance to the semifinals set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 at Chartiers Valley.

“We know there is a target on our backs,” conceded CM head coach Chris Mary. “We just have to prepare all wrestlers to do their jobs.”

To date, the Big Macs have. Winners of the past three WPIAL team titles as well as eight overall, Canon-McMillan is undefeated this winner, having posted an 11-0 record so far in dual meet competition.

Most recently, the Big Macs breezed to their 34th section title and 12th straight under Mary when they whipped McGuffey, 61-9, in the Section 4 championship match. That emphatic triumph coupled with its track record sealed CM’s No. 1 seeding in the upcoming tournament.

The Big Macs are mindful that the team trophy will not just be handed to them. Mary says they will face stiff competition, especially from the tournament’s other top seeds. Franklin Regional (16-1) is No. 2 followed by North Allegheny (13-2), which is the only other squad to win three straight WPIAL titles from 1986-89, and Connellsville (18-2).

“We are taking the approach that there are some great teams we will face in the team tournament,” said Mary. “We must take one match at a time though. We cannot look past any team.”

While “day-to-day” with some wrestlers, because of past injuries and illnesses, the Big Macs parade two state champions before the competition. Both, also are Division I recruits.

Connor Schram, who won a state title as a freshman, sports a 25-3 record at 126. The Stanford recruit had a pin and a technical fall during the section team championship matches against West Allegheny and McGuffey.

Cody Wiercioch, has two state titles, one when he wrestled at the Class AA for Charleroi and the other last year while at CM, is 27-1 in the 170-pound weight class. The Pitt recruit recorded a fall against McGuffey.

Many other Big Macs tuned up for team tournament action with stellar showings in the section championship match. CM dispatched West Allegheny, 52-18, in the opener before trouncing McGuffey, 61-9, in the finals.

Against the Highlanders, heavyweight Angelo Broglia, Nick Konyk (160) and Sammy Minor picked up pins in addition to Wiercioch. Josiah Hristsko (126) also recorded a technical fall. While Alex Campbell (220) Steve LaFrance (195) and Dalton Macri (120) won by forfeits, Brendon Price (106), Alex Hutchin (138) and Jacob Martin (152) won by decisions.

Against West-A, in addition to Schram, Price, Macri, Hutchin, LaFrance, Campbell and Broglia all won by falls.

Price (22-6), Macri (26-5), Campbell (26-4) and Broglia (25-6) and Hutchin (15-7) are among the other top-ranked wrestlers in CM’s line-up, thus making the Big Macs a tough adversary.

“We know there is tough competition ahead,” said Mary. But he noted that his Big Macs embrace the position in which they find themselves. “We want to enjoy the challenge,” he said.

Meanwhile, Peters Township, which is coached by CM graduate Jeff Carpetta, enjoys an appearance in team tournament as well.

Despite losing to Connellsville, 48-17, in the Section 2-AAA championship match, the Indians qualified for the team tournament.

In the loss to the Falcons, Phil Mary (120), Tyler Buckiso (126), Italo Merante (132) and heavyweight Lucas Cerevanek won decisions for the Indians.

In opening action, PT edged Belle Vernon, 34-31. The Indians won five of the last seven bouts to clinch the victory. Cerevanek had the lone PT pin. Mary, Ty Buckiso, John Ivashchenko, Jake Caputo, MacKenzie Mitchell won decisions for the Indians. A.J. Buckiso and Merante won by forfeit.

Mt. Lebanon also advanced out of the Section 2-AAA tournament though the Blue Devils suffered losses to Connellsville and Belle Vernon. The top five teams advanced to make up the 16-team bracket.

The Blue Devils, however, had to win a play-in match against West Allegheny to advance to Wednesday’s first-round action at North Allegheny. Thanks to a 48-27 win over the Indians, Lebo will take on the Tigers at 6 p.m.

Against West-A, Lebo took advantage of key wins by Cary Johns (106) and Shane Lefever (170) in the toss-up matches. Kevin Kinyua (113), Sam White (120), Sean Perri (126), Brandon Chavez (132), Kellan Stout (182), Bakhtiyar Zaynullaev (195) and Zeynul Zaynullayev (285) also won for the Blue Devils.

Meanwhile Bethel Park was eliminated from the team tournament competition. In the battle for the fifth and final playoff slot, the Hawks dropped a 39-27 decision to Ringgold.

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