CANONSBURG – It seemed like old home week for Canon-McMillan High School’s wrestling program Saturday afternoon.
As the Big Macs were in the process of routing McGuffey, 59-7, in a home match, a group of wrestlers was keeping a close eye on the mat.
Included in the group were Cody Wiercioch; Connor Schram, who had his left arm in a sling; Angelo Broglia and Alex Campbell. Those alums were on Christmas break, and might have been watching the last time Canon-McMillan (9-0) and McGuffey (6-3) will wrestle for some time.
Earlier this week, the Highlanders announced that, because of shrinking enrollment numbers, they will compete in Class AA after this season.
The Highlanders, who had a strong run through the 1990s in wrestling, hope to keep traditional rivals from Section 4-A, such as Trinity, Chartiers Valley, Waynesburg and Canon-McMillan, on the schedule. But there is no guarantee of that.
“When we were winning WPIAL championships, we had more kids to pull from,” said McGuffey head coach Mark Caffrey. “I marvelled at the way Waynesburg moved up and down (in class). They seemed to get it right.”
McGuffey won three WPIAL Team tournament titles in the 1990s and advanced to at least the semifinals in each of those years, a remarkable feat for any program. Waynesburg won a Class AA title in 1988, then moved up and won a Triple-A title the following season.
McGuffey made the team tournament last season, falling to Connellsville, 51-22, in the first round, but did not qualify the previous three seasons.
“I want to keep Canon-McMillan on our schedule, because I want our schedule to be hard,” said Caffrey. “To be a good team, you have to wrestle good competition.”
Canon-McMillan has won five of the possible six PIAA Team Tournament titles over the past three seasons and set a WPIAL record for Class AAA teams by winning a fourth consecutive team tournament title last year.
The Big Macs bolted to a 31-0 lead and did not give up a takedown until Tyler Harris won a 5-0 decision over Micah Kusturis at 152. It was one of just two bouts won by the Highlanders.
Dalton Macri (126), Blaze Kansco (160) and Alec Rideout (220) each won by fall for the Big Macs. Josiah Hritsko (126) and Malachi Krenzelak (145) won by default.
“We’ll see what happens in the future, but I’d like to keep (the series) going,” said Canon-McMillan first-year head coach Jason Cardillo. “They are close by. But there are only so many (scheduling) points. It’s a good move for a Double-A school. They have tough kids and are well-coached.”
Sitting with the group of Canon-McMillan alums was Solomon Chishko, fresh off surgery Friday to remove the meniscus in his right knee. Chishko, a defending state champion, won’t be back wrestling for three to four weeks, which puts him back for the last week of the regular season. Chishko aggravated the injury in the semifinals of the Ironman tournament.
Chishko missed the regular season last year after fracturing his elbow in the Super 32 tournament in October. He was back in time for the individual postseason and won 11 straight matches, the final one against Chris Vassar of Cedar Cliff in the 145-pound finals in Hershey.
Schram, who won his second state title three bouts earlier than Chishko against Michael Kemerer of Franklin Regional, is a redshirt freshman at Stanford.
Schram had his labrum repaired so he can be ready for next season.
“I had it done at Stanford,” he said. “I’ll be out about six months, so sometime in the summer I can start back in.”
Wiercioch has a 4-1 record at 165 through five bouts at Pitt, Broglia is a defensive end on Saint Francis’ football team and Campbell is a defensive lineman on Colgate’s football team.