Cardillo hired as C-M wrestling coach
Jason Cardillo, left, is the new head wrestling coach at Canon-McMillan High School. Glenn Haynes, right, will return as one of his assistants.
Joe Tuscano / Observer-Reporter
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Jason Cardillo might have the most difficult coaching job in the state this year.
He has to follow a legend.
Cardillo, a 30-year-old physical education teacher at Canon-McMillan High School, was hired last week to replace Chris Mary as the Big Macs’ varsity wrestling coach. Cardillo served as an assistant to Mary the past four seasons.
Cardillo realizes how much is expected after the success Mary had with the Big Macs. Canon-McMillan won five PIAA team titles over the past three seasons and became the first Class AAA program to win four consecutive WPIAL Team Tournament titles.
Mary was in the corner for two of the most memorable dual meets in the program’s history, as C-M defeated Central Dauphin in last year’s PIAA Class AAA team finals and the previous season in the state semifinals.
Mary had a career record of 214-42 in 13 seasons as head coach and was named National Coach of the Year in 2012.
“There are some big shoes to fill,” said Cardillo. “Chris is one of my good friends, and I know I have his support. He’ll give me help along the way. I’m just going to continue to do what we ingrained into these kids over the years.”
The Big Macs had three state champions last season and one runner-up. Connor Schram won the 126-pound title with a 5-3 win over Michael Kemerer of Franklin Regional; Solomon Chishko shut out Chris Vassar of Cedar Cliff, 8-0, in the 145-pound finals; and Cody Wiercioch stopped Joey Gartland of Penncrest 7-2 in the 170-pound finals for his second straight with the Big Macs and third in his career.
Dalton Macri was a runner-up, losing to Hempfield’s Sam Krivus in the 120-pound finals. Chishko and Macri return this season. Schram earned a scholarship to Stanford and Wiercioch one to Pitt.
“We lost some kids, but we’re getting a lot of kids back,” said Cardillo. “You can’t replace someone like a Connor Schram or a Cody Wiercioch. We had a lot of heroes (over the years), and I told the kids that it’s their time to step up and be heroes. We have wrestlers like Macri and Chishko who have to be leaders to the young kids coming up.”
Cardillo said what is most important to him is a strong work ethic.
“My style is one of a grinding mentality,” he said. “I’m a hard worker, and I expect that out of the kids. If you work hard, you can achieve anything. Hard work pays off. That means doing the little things, like being first back to the line. We’re going to use our skill to overcome our opponents.”
Cardillo is a 2001 graduate of South Fayette High School and wrestled in a co-op agreement with Chartiers Valley. He missed his sophomore season with an injury but did manage to qualify for the state tournament as a senior.
He wrestled for Slippery Rock from 2001-2006, compiling 106 victories and qualifying the NCAA championships twice. He had the distinction of wrestling on the final team at Slippery Rock before the sport was discontinued by the university.
Cardillo wants to keep the coaching staff intact and said Glenn Haynes will return as an assistant coach. He also is talking to Cody Klempay about becoming a volunteer assistant. Klempay received a scholarship to wrestle at North Carolina two years ago, but Cardillo said he is attempting to transfer to Waynesburg University.
“I think we can do a lot this year,” he said. “We just have to keep kids healthy and be focused. You never know what can happen. We just have to stay hungry. We are going to set the bar high and try to reach it.”