HERSHEY – The rematch is on.
Canon-McMillan, the defending champion in the PIAA Class AAA Team Tournament, and Central Dauphin, the six-time District 6 champion and bitter loser to the Big Macs in last year’s semifinals, will meet again to decide this year’s team winner.
The Big Macs got there with what is becoming a trademark, a come-from-behind victory, 37-35, over Easton in the semifinals Friday night in the Giant Center. Earlier in the day, C-M defeated Erie McDowell, 35-27, in a rematch of last year’s state team finals.
Central Dauphin got to this point with a 41-25 victory over Franklin Regional in the semifinals and a 32-27 win over Parkland in the quarterfinals.
“Electric. That’s the only word I can think of to describe what I think it will be like,” said Big Macs heavyweight Angelo Broglia. “It’s going to be tough, but you never go in there thinking you’re going to lose.”
Against Easton, Canon-McMillan (18-0) trailed 12-0 after two bouts that lasted a combined 1:02. Devon Gibson pinned Jacob Martin at 152 in the first bout of the dual meet, and Evan Disora stuck Nick Konyk at 160, also in 31 seconds.
If you think the Big Macs were worried, it never showed. Canon-McMillan has trailed in all three bouts in this tournament – 6-3 after three bouts against Spring Grove in the opener, 15-2 after five bouts against Erie McDowell and 12-0 against Easton.
“These kids left their hearts on the mat,” said Canon-McMillan head coach Chris Mary. “I’m so proud of them. Every time I think they won’t respond, they respond well.”
The Big Macs began their rally the way they did in the previous two dual meets, with pins in the upper weights. Defending state champion Cody Wiercioch needed 1:56 to dispose of Patrick Pierson at 182 to cut Easton’s lead to 12-9. Tyler Greene’s pin of C-M’s Steve LaFrance at 195 made it 18-9, but Alex Campbell and Angelo Broglia went back to back with their falls. Campbell’s came in 1:29 against Jagger Miller at 220 and Broglia’s came in 1:03 against Mike Catalano at heavyweight.
“After the first two pins, I was a little worried,” Campbell said. “But that’s pretty much what we do.”
Broglia said he draws inspiration from Campbell.
“I knew I had to pin, or we might lose,” he said. “Alex feeds me. When he gets excited, I get excited. We’re like brothers. He gives me energy.”
Brendon Price made it three pins in a row when he stuck Casin Carollo in 1:41 at 106 to give the Big Macs a 27-18 lead. Back-to-back technical falls by Dalton Macri at 120 and Connor Schram at 126 pushed the lead to 37-21.
Easton needed pins but got a major decision by Robert Rizzolino and a regular decision from Kyle Baker at 138.
Canon-McMillan forfeited the final bout, at 145, rather than risk injury.
“We were really off to a great start,” said Disora. “Everything was in our hands, and we let it slip away.”
Last year’s Canon-McMillan-Central Dauphin match was considered one of the most thrilling in the history of this tournament. The Big Macs won 28-25, so Central Dauphin has motivation on its side. Plus, it’s unlikely Solomon Chishko will wrestle for C-M, and Malachi Krenzelak is definitely out.
“It’s going to be a good one,” Schram said. “We try to keep our heads no matter what happens. We all know our job. We look for the big wins, the pins and the techs, and we don’t let anything frustrate us.”
Canon-McMillan has won seven consecutive matches in this tournament over the past two seasons and is ranked No. 9 in the country by Intermat. Central Dauphin is 23-0 and has won 121 of its last 122 dual meets.
“We knew there would be a lot of adversity,” Mary said. “We’re behind the 8-ball (in this tournament). But we have a will to win, and it showed in the last three matches.”