CORAOPOLIS – With a sparkling 90-7 career record coming into Saturday’s Section 4-AAA Individual Wrestling Tournament, Canon-McMillan’s Solomon Chishko is accustomed to having his hand raised at the end of matches.
But few of those victories have felt as good as the three Chishsko registered here at Moon High School.
The wins were the first of his junior season for Chishko, a talented 145-pounder, as he missed more than three months of action after suffering a fractured elbow just prior to the start of the high school season.
“It feels good after sitting out the whole season,” Chishko said after winning the 145-pound championship with a pin of West Allegheny’s Nathan Hall in the final.
“I’m a little tired right now. I’m not used to it after cutting weight, but I’ll get used it.”
According to Chishko, he got as heavy as 168 pounds during his inactivity, forcing him to not only work on rehabbing his right elbow, but also to start working hard to cut the weight once he knew he was close to returning to the mat.
“I got pretty fat,” said Chishko, a returning WPIAL champion and third-place PIAA placewinner.
“My grandma was feeding me a lot of food. So I had to strip that fat off in a short period of time.”
He didn’t show any ill effects Saturday, pinning Chartiers Valley’s Regan Smith in his first match, dispatching Waynesburg’s Shane Piper, 16-6, in his second, and handing Hall just his second loss of the season in the final.
Chishko admitted to being a little nervous heading into the day.
“There’s always a little bit of that,” he said. “I’m not where I’d be if I had been wrestling all season. But I still feel pretty confident in myself.”
That confidence won’t be hurt by what he did in this tournament.
“Those were good kids he beat,” said Canon-McMillan coach Chris Mary, who was named Section 4-AAA Coach of the Year for the 12th consecutive time. “But he’s just such a smart wrestler.
“He looked comfortable and powerful out there. We’ll keep working to prepare him to get ready for Thursday.”
That day is when the WPIAL Championships begin at Norwin High School, where Chishko figures to be the top seed at 145 pounds, despite his 3-0 record.
The thought of another WPIAL title and making a run at a PIAA championship – he’s finished third twice – fueled Chishko’s return. Along the way, it was difficult watching his teammates roll to a fourth consecutive WPIAL team championship and second straight PIAA team title.
“I was really nervous,” Chishko admitted. “I didn’t want to be the reason why we lost. It’s a team thing. But they pulled it off. It turned out OK.”
The section tournament turned out OK for the Big Macs as well.
Canon-McMillan had nine individual champions and will send 12 wrestlers to the WPIAL tournament. The top five placewinners here advanced.
“We had nine champs out of 11 that wrestled in the finals,” said Mary. “I couldn’t ask for more than that. They’ve still got that fire, even after a state championship.”
Joining Chishko at the top of the awards podium were teammates Brendan Price (106), Dalton Macri (120), Connor Schram (126), William Pihiou (152), Sammy Minor (160), Cody Wiercioch (170), Alex Campbell (220) and Angelo Broglia (heavyweight).
They were joined by A.C. Headlee of Waynesburg (113), Hopewell’s Filippo Crivelli (132), Chartiers Valley’s Clayton Sakel (138) and McGuffey’s Brent Blacharzyk (182) and Zac Herrle (195) as individual champions.
Waynesburg finished with nine WPIAL qualifiers, Trinity eight and McGuffey six.