C-M, South Fayette wrestle up section titles
Win section titles; prepare for team finals
There were few surprises during the sectional wrestling tournaments as Canon-McMillan and South Fayette breezed to championships while Peters Township and Mt. Lebanon advanced to the WPIAL team tournament.
The tournaments were scheduled to begin Jan. 27 with preliminary bouts. First-round action starts Jan. 29.
The semifinals will be held Jan. 31 at Norwin and the WPIAL team championships will be wrestled Feb. 1 at Chartiers Valley. Class AA finals start at 4 p.m. Class AAA begins at 6:30 p.m.
The Big Macs, who are the defending district and state champions, will host one of the first round matches. They will take on the winner of the Ringgold-Plum preliminary bout while Hempfield will battle Belle Vernon at 6 p.m. The winners will meet at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinals.
The Big Macs easily earned their spot in the tournament, as well as their 14th straight section banner, when they coasted to victory, 62-12, over Trinity in the Section 4-AAA title bout held at Montour. Canon-Mac dispatched West Allegheny, 71-3, in the semifinals.
While the victory assured the Big Macs a top four seed in the team tournament, it was not surprising.
“We’re expected to win every year,” said Jason Cardillo, who took over the reins as head coach this season after Chris Mary guided the Big Macs to five of the last six state team tournament titles. “The expectations are that we win the section title every year and a WPIAL title. That’s a good thing.”
A good thing was the Big Macs did not falter after having defeated the Hillers, 66-12, a week earlier to claim first place in the sub-section.
“I was pretty impressed with the way we wrestled,” said Cardillo. “We wrestled tough. The effort was there.”
Against, the Hillers, Canon-Mac received pinning efforts from Cam Fontenot (106), Josiah Hritsko (132), Malachi Krenzelak (145) and Solomon Chishko (152), who is a defending state champion.
In the opener against the Indians, Fontenot, Brendan Price (113), Dalton Macri (126), Alec Hutchin (138), Nick Konyk (170), Jesse Lesko (182) and heavyweight Brendan Furman recorded the falls for the Big Macs.
After beating Trinity, the Big Macs received high praise from their rival.
“They are definitely state champions for a reason,” said Trinity skipper Mark Powell.
With the wins, Canon-Mac improved to 14-0 overall. The Big Macs’ top opponents in the Class AAA tournament are expected to be Franklin Regional (10-1) and Latrobe (9-1). The Panthers captured the Section 1 title with a 46-28 win over the Wildcats in the championship match. Franklin Regional and Latrobe are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds for the tournament, followed by the Big Macs and North Allegheny, which is seeded No. 4.
Meanwhile, South Fayette earned the No. 2 seed in the WPIAL Class AA team tournament, behind Burrell. Jefferson-Morgan and Burgettstown are ranked No. 3 and No. 4.
The Lions will host first-round playoff action Jan. 29. While South Fayette wrestles Southmoreland, Bentworth will take on Avella at 6 p.m. The winners meet in the semifinals at 7 p.m.
Runners-up last season, falling to seven-time champion Burrell in the 2013 final, the Lions look to compete for their first-ever team title.
“That’s the goal,” said SF head coach Rick Chaussard.
The Lions reached one of their first goals on Jan. 22 when they claimed their second straight section banner. In the Section 1 tournament, South Fayette dispatched Ellwood City, 64-18, in the semifinals and dismissed Burgettstown, 65-10, in the championship match.
Scott Rzepecki (126), Shane Ging (132), Ben Previte (145), Grant Fetchet (160), Jared Walker (170), Rausaun Culbertson (195) and Bryce Christoff (285) recorded falls for the Lions in the final. Brett Beltz managed a tech fall at 152 while Jack Previte and Mike Carr netted decisions at 182 and 138. Andrew John and Jeremy Carter won by forfeits at 106 and heavyweight.
In the opener, John (106), Kevin Chaussard (120), Rzepecki (126), Carr (132), Ging (138), Beltz (152), Fetchet (160), Walker (170) and Previte (182) all recorded pins for the Lions. Jasper Wolfe won by decision at 113.
PT, Lebo qualify
Peters Township and Mt. Lebanon could pose problems for the competition in the Class AAA division.
The Indians face North Hills in the first round of the team tournament at 6 p.m. Jan. 29 at Greater Latrobe while Lebo travels to Franklin Regional and battles Butler.
Both Peters and Lebo lost their bid for the Section 2 title when they failed to best Belle Vernon.
The host Indians opened section playoff action with a 32-29 win over Connellsville. However, Peters succumbed to the Leopards, 40-27, in the title bout.
“We wrestled well,” said Peters mat boss Jason Carpetta. “We didn’t take advantage of some opportunities. But, we left it all out there.”
The problem against the Leopards was surrendering the big points. Tyler Seliga (113), Brenden Hasson (120), Austin Bell (170) and Patrick Mayernik (220) posted pins while Derek Verkleeren (152) registered a major decision for Belle Vernon.
Tyler Buckiso (132), Italo Merante (138) and Lucas Cervenak (285) recorded falls for the Indians. Danny Florentino (106), Phillip Mary (126) and Michael Mcaleavey (160) won by decisions against Belle Vernon.
Florentino secured the Indians’ spot in the finals when he took a forfeit at 106 and sealed the semifinal victory over the Falcons. Cervenak’s 1-0 decision at heavyweight pulled the Indians to within, 29-26.
In the match, Mary, Merante and Mcaleavey managed major decisions while Buckiso recorded a technical fall at 132. Sammy Florentino also won by forfeit at 145.
Meanwhile, Mt. Lebanon secured its spot in the team tournament by defeating Connellsville, 43-25, in the third-place consolation bout. Lebo lost to Belle Vernon, 43-24, in the semifinals.
“We were proud of how the team wrestled. They really rose to the occasion and we liked how they responded after a tough loss to Belle Vernon,” said Lebo coach Bill Lewis. “We felt that our kids put it together in the match against Connellsville. They wrestled aggressively, took risks, and looked to constantly score points. As a coach you always preach about wanting all 14 of your wrestlers to give 110% out on the mat and we felt that in this match everyone did. It was a total team effort.”
Against the Falcons, Kevin Kinyua (120), Sam White (126) Sean Perri (132), John Marshall (152), Zeynul Zaynullayev (285) picked up pins for the Blue Devils. Kellan Stout (182) and Bakhtiyar Zaynullaev (195) won by decisions. Jake Buono (106) won by forfeit.
Against the Leopards, Perri won by fall while Cam Giometti, Stout, Zaynullaev and Zaynullayev won by decisions.
“We didn’t match up as well with Belle Vernon. We needed to win some of the close ones to be a bit more competitive,” explained Lewis.
“Belle Vernon has a very solid team and is deserving of its No. 6 ranking.”