Three times a champion: C-M wins another team title

March 9, 2013
Cody Wiercioch, right, shown here against Penncrest’s Joe Gartland in the 170-pound finals Saturday night, helped Canon-McMillan to its third consecutive team title at the state tournament. Wiercioch won his third championship by defeating Gartland 7-2. - Associated Press

HERSHEY – It might not have come as a surprise, but the Canon-McMillan high School wrestling team added another trophy for a bursting showcase.

The Big Macs wrapped up the Class AAA team title in the PIAA Individual Championships Saturday with five medalists. Canon-McMillan finished with 99 team points. Second-place Central Dauphin had 75.

It was the third consecutive team title in this event to go along with two straight titles won in the PIAA Team Tournament. That’s five in three seasons. The PIAA awards two team titles each year, one at its team tournament in February and one at the individual tournament in March.

“It’s great to be part of something so special,” said Canon-McMillan head coach Chris Mary. “I’ve been surrounded by a great coaching staff and a great community. I’m very proud of the commitment these kids made to the program.”

The Big Macs sewed up the tournament title after the semifinal round, when four wrestlers – Dalton Macri (120), Connor Schram (126), Solomon Chishko (145) and Cody Wiercioch (170) – advanced to the finals. Schram, Chishko and Wiercioch each came home with a gold medal and Macri won silver.

“Not only are we winning titles, but we’re having a lot of fun,” said Mary. “The chemistry we have as coaches and wrestlers is outstanding. There have been a lot of great memories, and these kids will remember this for the rest of their lives.”

Since the PIAA split wrestling into two classes in 1979, three teams have won at least three team titles at the individual championships. North Allegheny won four straight from 1987-1990, Northampton won three in a row from 1993-95, and Central Dauphin from 2007-09.

Central Dauphin has been the Big Macs rival for the past two seasons and biggest threat to them repeating as team champions. But CD head coach Jeff Sweigard said there is camaraderie between the two teams.

“They are awesome,” Sweigard said. “We have great respect for Canon-McMillan. Some of their wrestlers wrestle with us in the offseason. We want to beat them on the mat, but off the mat, we have a high level of respect for them.”

Sweigard said the secret to CD’s success is the same for Canon-McMillan.

“I surround myself with great people from the youth to the high school program,” he said. “The kids have to believe what you’re doing and that makes them want to be part of it.”

Mary believes securing that type of commitment is key to building a winning program.

“We probably had seven kids from our team come up and watch (the tournament),” said Mary. That says a lot. It’s about the entire program.”

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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