CANONSBURG – Dalton Macri did not wrestle the opponent he thought he might in the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament finals, but that didn’t mean it was any easier.
Many expected Macri, a senior at Canon-McMillan, to get a rematch with Waynesburg’s A.C. Headlee in Saturday night’s 126-pound finals.
Ryan Millhoff had other ideas.
Millhoff, a senior from Collins Hill, Ga., stopped Headlee in the semifinals and seemed to have Macri on the ropes.
Macri hit a five-point move in the final seconds to take an 8-6 victory as the Canon-McMillan fans roared their approval in a packed C-M gymnasium.
“This is pretty special,” said Macri. “It’s my first breakthrough win.”
Macri, who was named Outstanding Wrestler, was one of eight local placewinners in the tournament. Brendan Price of C-M took third at 113, Malachi Krenzelak was fifth at 145, and Brendan Furman was eighth at heavyweight. Phil Mary lost his semifinal bout against Millhof and ended up fourth at 126. Teammates Ty Buckiso was seventh at 132 and Sam Florentino was eighth at 145. Headlee took third at 126.
Franklin Regional won the team title by sending six wrestlers to the finals. Latrobe was second with four finalists and Parkland third. Canon-McMillan was fourth.
Millhof got off to a strong start with a takedown early in the first period and led 2-1 after one period. Macri chose down to start the second and had trouble getting out. Millhof rode Headlee in much the same way. Macri nearly escaped with 35 seconds to go but Millhoff countered. Millhof turned Macri for two backpoints with 11 seconds to go for a 4-1 lead after the period.
Macri let Millhof up to start the third to fall behind 5-1. The lead was 6-3 when Macri drove in, tied up Millhof’s arm and took him to the mat for the win.
“I know to always keep wrestling,” said Macri, a state runner-up last season. “I don’t know how it happened. It was like a lateral drop. I messed around with it in practice. Good things happen when you keep wrestling. For a split second, I was going to let him up. Then I thought, ‘Oh,I need backpoints.’”
Macri made it to the finals, thanks to four consecutive technical falls. He opened the tournament with a 27-10 win over Anthony Marra of Burrell and followed it up with a 22-6 win over Brayson Haas of Parkland. Next up was Mitch Hartman of Belle Vernon, who fell 22-7. Mary was next and he was dispatched after a 27-12 loss.
Millhof won three bouts by technical fall: 16-1 over Alec Profit of Solanco in the first round, 18-3 over Benji Yates of Erie McDowell and 18-3 over Joel Cawoski of Latrobe.
Headlee’s 5-0 victory over Mary was punctuated with three balloons to mark his 100th career win. But he would have rather been competing rather than watching the finals. Headlee was knocked into the wrestlebacks after dropping an 8-0 major decision to Millhof.
“I wrestled him at the Super 32 and lost 5-3,” said Headlee. “The last match, we were more on our feet. I couldn’t get off bottom this time. He throws the legs in and watches for a cradle.”
The Waynesburg junior trailed 3-0 late in the third period when he tried a throw but Millhof countered and took Headlee to his back.
“I thought I’d go for it,” Headlee said. “Why not? It was 3-0 at the time and I was running out of time.”
Price was tied, 2-2, with Ethan McCoy of Latrobe in the final period but gave up a takedown that resulted in a 4-2 loss.
Price rallied from that defeat to take a 4-2 decision from Charles Lenox of Erie McDowell for third place. Price beat Lenox 4-2 in overtime in the quarterfinals.
“(McCoy) did a good job riding,” Price said. “The match after that, I chose top, and I’ve never done that before. But I didn’t feel confident because Lenox rode me the first match and so did McCoy. I’ve got to work with Dalton on that and have Coach (Jason) Cardillo show me some tough.”
Mary couldn’t keep up with Macri in the semifinals, falling by technical fall, 27-12.
Krenzelak ran into one of the better wrestlers in the state in Jason Nolf of Kittanning, who is looking for his third state title this season. He was third in his sophomore year and that was his only loss of his scholastic career. Nolf pinned Krenzelak in 4:08.
Connor Wagh, a senior at St. Paul’s High School just outside Baltimore, has ties to the area. His mother, Jenny, grew up in Washington and his father, Gunpat, lived in Nineveh. Wagh also has among his relatives, a grandmother, Virginia, who lives in Canonsburg. Wagh is headed to Bucknell next fall. … Chance Marsteller of Kennard-Dale became the fifth wrestler in tournament history to win four Powerade titles. The others were Ty Moore (1986-89) of North Allegheny, Marshall Peppelman (2006-09) of Central Dauphin, Nico Megaludis (2007-10) of Franklin Regional, and Jimmy Gullibon (2008-11) of Derry.