Final thoughts on the Powerade Christmas Tournament:
For the past two years, Canon-McMillan put on a show-stopping performance that ended the Powerade Christmas Wrestling tournament.
In 2012, Cody Wiercioch and Chance Marsteller of Kennard-Dale battled in a bout that is still being talked about today. Marsteller went up a weight class to face Wiercioch, who would win his second state title for the Big Macs that season, and put his undefeated record on the line.
Marsteller won a 3-2 overtime decision in a magnificently wrestled bout.
On Saturday night, in front of another great crowd inside Canon-McMillan’s gymnasium, Dalton Macri wowed fans by hitting a version of a lateral drop against Ryan Millhof, a state champion from Collins Hill, Ga., in the final 12 seconds of the 126-pound finals.
Macri, a PIAA runner-up for the Big Macs last season, scored five points with the move, turning a 6-3 deficit into an 8-6 victory and setting off the loudest roar from the crowd.
Macri’s dramatic win, coupled with the advantage of being a hometown athlete, was named Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament over Marsteller, who became just the fifth wrestler in the tournament’s history to win four gold medals.
There was no doubt Macri’s match was the highlight of the finals, and punctuated a tournament that still remains one of the best in the country.
Marsteller’s dominance in this event was impressive. He won the fourth title with a 17-1 technical fall over Noah Wilps of Chartiers Valley in the 170-pound finals.
The other four-time champions are 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.
Marsteller did not have the gold medal for very long. He gave it to a young fan, who was sitting near the mat for all of Marsteller’s bouts in the tournament.
Pretty classy move.
It’s always nice when the hype of a new wrestler actually matches the talent.
Such is the case with Spencer Lee.
Rated the top freshman in the nation, the 113-pounder from Franklin Regional demolished the competition, including a 14-4 major decision over Ethan McCoy of Latrobe in the finals.
Lee transferred in from Saegertown after his father got a job at Carnegie Mellon University, a nice addition to an already tough Franklin Regional team.
Meanwhile, Devin Brown also transferred to Franklin Regional from Saegertown, but with a little more difficulty. The WPIAL declared him ineligible but the PIAA reversed the decision just before the tournament.
Lee and Brown, who won a state title last year at Saegertown, make the Panthers the favorite to win the WPIAL Team Tournament title. Most feel they are the best team in the state.
By the way, Josh Shields, who won the 152-pound title for Franklin Regional with a 3-1 overtime decision against Cole Walter of Mifflinburg, is the son of former Trinity High School standout Brian Shields.
Luke Pletcher of Latrobe had arguably the toughest road to a Powerade title.
The 120-pound sophomore won his second straight gold medal by knocking off state champions in his final three bouts. Pletcher won a hard-fought 10-9 decision over Jordan Allen, a West Virginia state champion, in the quarterfinals, then edged Sean Russell, a defending Georgia state champion, 3-2, in the semifinals.
He capped the tournament with a 3-2 decision over Ethan Lizak of Parkland, another defending state champion.
Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.