Back-to-back losses end C-M’s string of championships

Published Feb 3, 2014 at 11:36 am (Updated Feb 3, 2014 at 11:36 am)

With back-to-back losses to North Allegheny, 29-28, and Latrobe, 42-20, Canon-McMillan saw its string of consecutive championships as well as trips to Hershey to compete for the 2014 PIAA wrestling crown come to an end.

The Big Macs had won four straight WPIAL team titles and had made six trips to Chocolate Town to compete for the state championships, claiming five PIAA banners in the process. Canon-Mac had captured three consecutive team titles.

“The season was a roller coaster ride,” said Jason Cardillo, who replaced Chris Mary as CM mat boss this season. “We had a lot of ups, but this was a downer. Overall, it was a successful season.”

True enough for the Big Macs had won 16 straight dual meets and had tucked a 14th straight section title away before dropping out of further team tournament competition with two straight losses.

They begin bids for individual honors Feb. 22 when Moon hosts the Section 4 tournament. The WPIAL Class AAA championships will be held Feb. 27-March 1 at Canon-McMillan.

Latrobe ended the Big Macs’ district reign in the team semifinals wrestled at Norwin. NA ended CM’s season in the consolation contest held at Chartiers Valley.

The top three clubs in Class AAA, including this year’s champion Franklin Regional, advanced to the PIAA tournament, which commenced with first-round action Feb. 4.

If there was consolation for the Big Macs, it was the fact they wrestled well against NA compared to Latrobe. Plus, the Big Macs are a young team. They boast eight seniors – James Markulik, Brendan Price, Dalton Macri, Josiah Hritsko, Alec Hutchin, Solomon Chishko, Malachi Krenzelak and Alec Rideout – on their 24-man roster.

“I felt we wrestled better (against North Allegheny) than we did (against Latrobe),” Cardillo said. “We’re trying to build our young kids up. We wanted to go to Hershey, but it’s not in the cards for us now.”

Against the Tigers, six bouts were decided by one point. NA won key battles at 113, 138 and 160 and locked up a trip to the Giant Center despite Camden Fontenot’s decision, 7-6, for the Big Macs at 103, where the match ended. Brendan Furman had preceded Fontenot with a fall, pulling CM within four points, 29-25.

“Cam went for it,” said Cardillo. “But you know, scoring a lot of points against someone just trying not to get pinned is hard.”

Other than Furman, CM did not score a pin against the Tigers. Chishko and Nick Konyk recorded technical falls at 145 and 170, respectively, while Matt Oblock (120), Macri (126) and Krenzelak (152) registered decisions. Macri and Oblock both won by one point.

Luke Landefeld’s 1-0 decision over Brendan Price set the tone for the Tigers. They also managed narrow decisions at 138 with A.J.Boeh over Hutchin, 3-2, and at 160 with Jake Woodley versus Micah Kustruris, 4-3.

“That was a hard loss,” Cardillo noted of Price’s defeat. “The losses at 138 and 160 were tough, too.”

Against the Wildcats, who went on to lose to Franklin Regional, 42-19, in the finals, the Big Macs never led, losing the first bout when Ethan McCoy scored a 6-3 decision at 113 and defending state champion Luke Pletcher posted a pin at 120. Though Chishko narrowed Latrobe’s lead, 15-14, with a fall at 152, the Big Macs lost the next six bouts, three by falls.

Fontenot’s fall at 106, Macri’s tech fall at 126 and Hutchin’s decision at 138 accounted for Canon-Mac’s other points in the match.

Opening action

Canon-Mac, which last lost to a team from the WPIAL in 2009 when it suffered a 39-31 defeat at the hands of Hempfield, reached the Final Four when the Big Macs slipped past Belle Vernon, 31-25.

Alec Hutchin’s fall at 138 propelled the Big Macs to victory.

With the match deadlocked at 19, Hutchin took the mat and quickly pinned Cameron Evans.

“Alec’s pin was big,” said Cardillo. “He had that cement mixer locked in and pulled the trigger. It really fired us up.”

Indeed, for after Hutchin’s fall, Solomon Chishko and Malachi Krenzelak followed with decisions at 145 and 152 to put the bout out of reach for the Leopards, who closed with a fall at 160. Chishko beat Jarod Verkleeren, 11-6, while Krenzelak upended Derek Verkleeren, 7-5.

“Malachi earned a real hard-fought victory against a guy who was ranked No. 3 at 152,” Cardillo noted. “Those were big moments.”

Belle Vernon opened up the match with four straight wins from 170 through 220 before the Big Macs began to chip away at the 13-0 disadvantage.

Brendan Furman ignited CM’s rally, registering a fall at heavyweight. A win by Camden Fontenot at 106 and a major decision by Brendan Price at 113 tied the match, 13-13.

Though the Leopards leaped ahead with a win at 120, a forfeit win by Dalton Macri moved C-M into the lead, 19-16. Mitch Hartman’s decision against Josiah Hritsko knotted the match, setting the stage for Hutchin.

“It was a hard-fought win,” said Cardillo. “We knew Belle Vernon would push us to the limit and they did. We weathered the early storm and battled all the way through the end.”

Canon-Mac reached the quarterfinals of the Class AAA team tournament with a 53-9 triumph against Ringgold.

Fontenot, Price, Macri, Jesse Lesko (182) and Alex Rideout (220) picked up pins against the Rams while Krenzelak and Chishko recorded technical falls. Blaise Konsco and Hutchin earned wins while Matt Oblock scored a major decision at 120.

Despite the defeat, Ken Tarpley provided the highlight for the Rams. The senior scored his 100th career win with an 8-2 decision against Isaac Miles at 132.

Lebo, PT ousted

In other Class AAA matches involving local teams, Butler edged Mt. Lebanon, 32-31.

Winning matches for Blue Devils were Brian Perri (113) by fall, Kevin Kinyua (120) by major decision, Sam White (126) and Sean Perri (132) by decisions. Kellan Stout (182) picked up a fall, Bakhtiyar Zaynullaev (195) won by decision and Zeynul Zaynullayev (285) added a fall.

“Although a tough loss ,we are proud of the hard work the team has put in this season and look forward to continued progress,” said Lebo head coach Bill Lewis.

Peters Township defeated North Hills, 39-23, before falling to Latrobe, 45-18, in the quarterfinals.

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