McGuffey High School’s wrestling team, which has been competing up in classification, will return to a Class AA schedule next season. The Highlanders, competing in Section 4-A in Class AAA, will begin the new schedule for the 2014-15 season.
McGuffey will attempt to keep its rivalry matches with Waynesburg, Trinity and Canon-McMillan. The enrollment numbers for McGuffey have been steadily declining and athletic director Ed Dalton said it’s the best move for the program.
“We made the decision a few weeks ago,” Dalton said. We talked it over with the coaches. We talked it over with the board. We talked it over with (head coach Mark Caffrey). Our enrollment from our heyday has gone from 270 to 120.”
Dalton said the school only had two home section dual meets this season, a trend in the WPIAL.
“We understand the pitfalls,” he said. But we have to be proactive. We’ll still wrestle good teams and create a competitive schedule.”
Chishko injury impacts feature bout
When Solomon Chishko has been on the wrestling mat the past two seasons, good things have happened.
The problem for the senior from Canon-McMillan is that he has not been able to stay healthy enough over that time to be on the mat very often.
The latest injury is to his knee and was initially sustained in his freshman season. He reaggravated it in a semifinal bout against Micah Jordan of St. Paris, Ohio, in the Ironman tournament last week at Walsh Jesuit High School. As a result, Chishko will miss significant time.
The injury will keep him out of the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament, which begins Dec. 27 at Canon-McMillan.
Chishko missed the 2012-13 regular season with a fractured elbow sustained in the Super 32 preseason tournament. He won 11 straight bouts upon his return, including the 145-pound Class AAA state title in Hershey.
Chishko’s absence from Powerade means that a projected final match pitting him against two-time state champion Jason Nolf of Kittanning won’t happen.
“I’m more concerned about being able to wrestle right now,” said Chishko. “It stinks. I want to wrestle, and I want to win.”
Nolf was 45-0 last season, winning the 132-pound Class AA title at Giant Arena. Nolf saw his hopes of becoming a four-time state champion disappear when he lost to Ryan Diehl of Trinity in District 3, 6-4, in the 113-pound semifinals of the state tournament in his sophomore season. It’s the only loss in his high school career.
Last year’s Powerade tournament had one of the best storylines in the nation when Chance Marsteller defeated Cody Wiercioch 3-2 in overtime in the 170-pound finals. Marsteller, who is in Powerade, is on track to be the fifth four-time undefeated champion in PIAA history. The other four are James Conklin of Waynesburg, Cary Kolat of Jefferson-Morgan, Jerry Maurey of Clearfield and Mike Johnson of Lock Haven.
Another interesting storyline for Powerade revolves around Devin Brown, who was just cleared by the PIAA to wrestle for Franklin Regional. Brown and Spencer Lee transferred to Franklin Regional from Saegertown. Lee’s transfer was not challenged by Saegertown but Brown’s was. In November, the WPIAL ruled Brown ineligible because he transferred in part for athletic intent. The PIAA reversed that ruling Tuesday.
Both teams are competing in Powerade.
Bissett settling in
With 20 wrestlers on the roster, West Greene’s program is able to fill the weight classes. The job Kory Bissett has is to make sure those wrestlers who fill the spots continue to improve.
So far, the first-year head coach of the Pioneers is happy about the progress but wants that to translate into victories.
“It will take a little bit, but we’re getting the ball rolling,” said Bissett, a West Greene alum who took over when Curt Hughes resigned. “The wrestlers are working hard and making me proud.”
The Pioneers are 0-3 heading into the Southmoreland tournament Dec. 27. West Greene lost some talented wrestlers to graduation in Wade Blackmon (29-13), Matt Johnston (41-8) and Cody Jacobs (37-9, 6th in PIAA). That’s increased expectations for Sheldon Phillips (120), Tyler Gilbert (138), Dalton Wildman (182) and Trevin Bedilion (Hvy). Each has a winning record so far.
“We have a very talented group of kids,” said Bissett. “They are willing to get better. My expectations are that they be prepared to win. If they do that, then they can leave quite a mark on the program.”
The Tri-County Athletic Director Association’s Tournamnet is Jan. 10-11 at Ringgold. … The last date for section matches is Jan. 16. The team section tournaments will be Jan. 22 and the WPIAL Team Tournament gets under way the week of Jan. 27. … Stay up to date on wrestling at http://joesmatmatters.blogspot.com.