The long wait for Solomon Chishko’s return has finally ended.
The Canon-McMillan junior, who has not wrestled this season after fracturing his elbow in a preseason tournament in October, will be back in the lineup for Saturday’s Section 4-AAA Tournament at Moon High School.
Not only that, Chishko is the top seed at 145 pounds.
His return – even if it is not at 100 percent – boosts the chances that the Big Macs can win a third consecutive team title at the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships in March. Canon-McMillan is coming off its second straight PIAA Team Tournament title with a thrilling victory over Central Dauphin two weeks ago in Hershey.
“It’s been a long year without him,” said Canon-McMillan head coach Chris Mary. “I’m pleased at what our boys have overcome without one of the top guns in our lineup. He is so much fun to watch. He has the tenacity to go out and pin people.”
The return of Chishko wasn’t the only news for Canon-McMillan. Defending state champion Cody Wiercioch has been invited to compete on the Pennsylvania Team in this year’s Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic and also will compete in the Dream Team Classic at Elmhurst College in Chicago, April 20.
“Cody is one of the best high school wrestlers Pennsylvania has seen or will see,” Mary said. “He’s the elite of the elite.”
Saturday marks the start of the individual postseason for Class AAA wrestlers. Class AA began last week. Besides the Section 4 Tournament at Moon, the Section 1 event will take place at Gateway, Section 2 at Baldwin and Section 3 at Fox Chapel. Action gets under way at 9:30 a.m. and the finals are at 6 p.m.
Chishko and Wiercioch each are top seeded in their weight class. They join five other teammates seeded first: Brendon Price at 106, Dalton Macri at 120, Connor Schram at 126, William Pihiou at 152, and Alex Campbell at 220.
Chishko will have everyone’s attention when he steps onto the mat for the first time this season in a varsity competition.
“The last couple of weeks, we’ve seen him improve,” said Mary. “I had a good feeling about him coming back. Since (the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament), we’ve been on him about his weight loss and his conditioning: a lot biking, steppers and shadow wrestling.”
Mary said he was determined not to rush Chishko back into the lineup.
“We went into the (PIAA Team Tournament) comfortable knowing we wouldn’t have Solomon,” he said. “He’s was not going to come back too early. You never risk the safety of a wrestler over wrestling.”
Chishko needs two wins to advance to the next round of the tournament, not a huge hurdle for someone with his talents. Nate Hall, a sophomore from West Allegheny with a 30-1 record, appears to be his biggest challenge.
The other top-seeded wrestlers in the Section 4 event are A.C. Headlee (113) of Waynesburg; Hopewell’s Fillippo Crivelli (132), Michael Tempalsky (195) and Damon Sims (Hvy); Tyler Harris (138) and Brent Blacharczyk (182) of McGuffey; and Josh Barr (160) of West Allegheny.