CANONSBURG – Wow.
It’s not often that a wrestling match lives up to the hype, but the one that took place in a packed Canon-McMillan gymnasium Saturday night certainly did.
In one of the most dazzling displays of defensive wrestling, Chance Marsteller of Kennard-Dale and Cody Wiercioch of Canon-McMillan thrilled the nearly 3,000 fans in the 170-pound finals of the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament.
While it might be a subjective stat, but it would be hard to find anyone in the gym to recall a more memorable 3-2 decision where all the points were scored on escapes.
“I wanted to give the crowd a good match,” said Wiercioch, “and that’s what we did.”
This matchup of the No. 1- and 2-ranked wrestlers in the country by Intermat came down one move neither wrestler could control.
The flip of the disk.
It determined who would have choice in the fourth overtime period for the ultimate tiebreaker format. Marsteller won the flip, had the choice in the final overtime and scored three seconds in to take the 3-2 victory.
An appreciative crowd gave both wrestlers a standing ovation.
“That was the best high school match given me since early in my freshman year,” said Marsteller, who like Wiercioch is a two-time PIAA champion. Unlike Wiercioch, Marsteller is undefeated in his high school career and moved his record to 97-0. “It was an exciting match.”
While Canon-McMillan didn’t get the gold in this match, the Big Macs did get one at 126 pounds, where Connor Schram won his second Powerade title by default over Michael Kemerer of Franklin Regional at 126 pounds.
Blair Academy rolled to the team title, scoring 299 points. Moeller edged Canon-McMillan for second place, 161-160. Kyle Snyder of Good Counsel, who won at 220, was named Outstanding Wrestler.
The Marsteller-Wiercioch match was wrestled nearly in its entirety in the neutral position. Only 12 seconds were spent with the wrestlers in the down position. Three times Marsteller managed to get in on Wiercioch for a single-leg shot and three times Wiercioch fought it off to the roar of the crowd.
Wiercioch hit a single-leg in the third period that forced Marsteller to defend it by doing a split to fend it off. He held it for about 12 seconds before a stalemate was called. Wiercioch nearly had a takedown along the edge of the mat with a spin-around move with about 40 seconds left, but Marsteller fought it off.
“I thought I had him,” said Wiercioch. “It was pretty close. It came down to the flip.”
Schram earned his title in a most unusual way, accidentally knocking out Kemerer at the 2:35 mark.
Schram launched in and caught Kemerer with a double-leg takedown, the second time Schram hit one in the match, taking the Franklin Regional sophomore to the mat. The crown of Schram’s head caught Kemerer on the chin.
The two went out of bounds and Kemerer was slow to get up. He looked wobbly and trainers and FR head coach Eric Mauser came out to check on him. Mauser decided not to send Kemerer back out.
“He might have been knocked out,” said Schram. “I felt bad. It’s not a great way to win it.”
Schram was dominating the match at the time of the default. He hit a double-leg takedown 54 seconds into the match for a 2-0 lead. Kemerer escaped to make it 4-2 two seconds into the second period. Schram then hit the match-ending double-leg 30 seconds later.
“I felt I was wrestling well,” said Schram. “I thought I was dominating the match. I guess you could say that.”
Schram showed flashes of the style that helped him win a state title in his freshman season. He wrestled loose and seemed more relaxed.
“I was laughing downstairs before the match,” he said. “I think that helped me.”
Schram got to the finals with a thrilling 3-1 victory over Ryan Diehl of Trinity (District 3). Diehl is a defending Class AA state champion, but Schram sent him to the consolation bracket when he hit a slip-around takedown with 20 seconds to go to grab a 3-1 decision.
Schram had an 11-4 win over Matt Welliver of Benton, a 17-1 technical fall over Nick Standefer of Baylor, Tenn., and a pin in 23 seconds of Will Chillinsky of Hempfield.
Canon-McMillan had six medal-winners. Besides Schram and Wiercioch, Dalton Macri took third at 120, Alex Campbell was fourth at 220, Brendon Price was seventh at 106 and Angelo Broglia was seventh at heavyweight.
For Chartiers-Houston, Tanner Sutton was sixth at 145 and Garrett Vulcano finished fourth at 195. Waynesburg’s A.C. Headlee finished third at 113 and Brent Blacharczyk of McGuffey was sixth at 182.