Wrestling Coach of Year finalists continued winning ways

April 18, 2013

Throughout this high school wrestling season, three teams – Canon-McMillan, South Fayette and Jefferson-Morgan – did what these programs do best: win.

The word “winner” was attached to these programs and their wrestlers numerous times this season, and that’s why Chris Mary of Canon-McMillan, Rick Chaussard of South Fayette and Scott Rhodes of Jefferson-Morgan are the finalists for Wrestling Coach of the Year.

The three will be honored – and a winner chosen – at the Tri-County Coach of the Year Banquet at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 28 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Meadowlands.

Tickets for the banquet are $35 each and can be purchased by calling Burgettstown High School athletic director Jon Vallina at 724-947-8109. Proceeds benefit Tri-County Special Olympics.

Mary led the Big Macs to two more PIAA Team Tournament titles this season, giving C-M five over the past three years. The Big Macs won the PIAA Team Tournament title with a 34-31 victory over Central Dauphins in the Class AAA finals in February, then won the team title at the PIAA Individual Championships in March.

The Big Macs also set a WPIAL record with a fourth consecutive Class AAA team title.

In the state individual tournament, Solomon Chishko (145), Connor Schram (126) and Cody Wiercioch (170) each won gold medals, and Mary was named Class AAA Coach of the Year.

It was a year of firsts for South Fayette. The Lions won their first section team title with a 31-28 victory over Chartiers-Houston, and qualified for the PIAA Team Tournament for the first time in the program’s history with a second-place finish after a 35-30 loss to Burrell in the Class AA finals.

Chaussard was in the corner when Seth Carr made his run to the 113-pound finals, where he lost a heartbreaking 1-0 decision to George Phillipi of Derry. Jared Walker finished seventh at 160 pounds, and Mike Fetchet finished fourth at 170.

Jefferson-Morgan won the Section 2-AA team title with a 43-22 victory over Bentworth and reached the semifinals of the WPIAL Team Tournament before falling to South Fayette, 37-23.

Rhodes coached Dustin Conti to a third-place finish in the 170-pound weight class and John Demaske to a fourth-place finish at 126 pounds. Demaske recorded his 100th victory of his career during the season and has a chance to become the winningest wrestler in the 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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