On Tuesday night, a wrestling rivalry was renewed after a two-year hiatus when Trinity and Canon-McMillan battled in a WPIAL Section 4-A dual meet, something the two teams didn’t get the opportunity to do because of being placed in different sub-sections.
Thanks to six forfeits from the Hillers, the result of wrestlers being academically ineligble, the Big Macs cruised to a 67-9 victory that has them two wins away from a 13th consecutive section championship under head coach Chris Mary.
“It’s sometimes tough to be ready when you are coming in knowing the other team will be forfeiting half the bouts,” said Mary. “But it is my job to make sure the kids are mat ready, and I thought they did a pretty good job.”
The Hillers not only had to deal with the six forfeits, but also lost Justin Ritter to an injury just 10 seconds into the 138-pound bout, the first bout that was wrestled, when he was taken down on his head by the Nick Oberhaus of Canon-McMillan. Oberhaus won by injury default.
Ritter was taken to the hospital by paramedics as a precaution, which dampened the mood of the crowd and the Trinity bench.
“We expect Justin to wrestle good for us every time out,” said Trinity head coach Mark Powell. “It was unfortunate what happened, and after that, the kids got kind of down.”
After the injury, the Hillers won their only two bouts when they got a pin from Jeff Miller at 145 and a decision from Evan Sherrieb at 152 to take a 9-6 lead.
But the Big Macs swept the rest of the bouts, including getting pins from Nick Konyk at 160, Steve LaFrance at 195 and Alex Campbell at 220, plus a major decision from heavyweight Angelo Broglia.
“It’s important that we are sharp for next week,” said Mary. “I thought the guys who did wrestle showed a lot, especially LaFrance at 195, who gave a real strong performance.”
The defending three-time WPIAL champions and two-time PIAA champions could get even stronger next week with the return of Solomon Chishko. Chishko, a third-place finisher in last year’s state tournament, has been out all season with an elbow injury.
“We are trying to get him mat ready,” said Mary. “He’s getting closer, but we will see next week.”
While the Big Macs sit in first place in the section, the Hillers were eliminated from the postseason.
“We knew McGuffey matched up pretty well with Waynesburg,” said Powell. “Unfortunately, with the tie-breakers, that leaves us as the odd man out.”
Despite the lopsided loss, Powell was excited to see the rivalry with Canon-McMillan renewed.
“Trinity and Canon-Mac will always be a rivalry,” said Powell. “It is great to get to wrestle them, and the fans come out for it. Hopefully, in three years we will have what they have, and we will be competing for WPIAL titles on a regular basis.”