The head coach is different and many of the wrestlers who helped produced two state team titles last season have graduated, but Canon-McMillan’s wrestling program is in the same situation: undefeated and poised to win another section title.
The Big Macs host arch-rival Trinity at 7:30 p.m. today in the Subsection 4-A showdown in Class AAA and will be looking to take the next step in winning a 14th consecutive section title.
While the Big Macs are a powerful force in the WPIAL, Trinity head coach Mark Powell wants to make one thing perfectly clear.
“We are going there to win,” Powell said.
Canon-McMillan, the No. 3 team in the Observer-Reporter’s Class AAA team rankings, has an 11-0 record and is 4-0 in the section. The Big Macs also have won the last four WPIAL Team Tournament championships. Trinity also is 4-0 in the section and 4-1 overall.
The two teams already have qualified for the WPIAL Team Tournament, which will be held the week of Jan. 27. The winner of the Trinity-C-M dual meet will be the subsection (4-A) champion. The loser will be in second place. The WPIAL will hold its Section Team Tournament doubleheaders Jan. 22. The top team in the subsection wrestles the No. 2 team from the other subsection (4-B). The winners meet for the section title.
“It’s another match for us,” said C-M Head coach Jason Cardillo, in his first season after replacing Chris Mary. “It’s Senior Night, so it’s special to us. We’re celebrating the accomplishments of our seniors.”
Two seniors on the minds of Big Mac fans are Dalton Macri and Solomon Chishko. Macri, a PIAA runner-up at 120 last season, missed last week’s dual meet against Chartiers Valley and the Tri-County Athletic Directors Association tournament with the flu. He returned for a dual meet win over Fort Lebeouf Monday night.
Chishko, a defending state champion at 145, has not wrestled since aggravating a knee injury at the Walsh Ironman Tournament in mid-December. He had the meniscus removed from his right knee right before Christmas and returned to practice last week.
“Solomon has been on the bike for a week or so,” Cardillo said. “He’s been doing conditioning work. Macri will be back.”
Trinity’s Mike Kolosky, a starter at 106 this season, missed the Tri-CADA event with an injured finger, but he will be ready for the Canon-McMillan match.
“We just wanted to rest him (this past weekend),” Powell said. “We wanted to give it time to heal.”
The match could turn on what happens in the lightweights, where Canon-McMillan will throw Brendan Price (113), Matt Oblock (120) and Macri (126) and Trinity has Kolosky (106), Tristan Buxton (106, 113) and Cam Reynolds (120).
“I haven’t looked at (Trinity’s lineup),” Cardillo said Saturday. I did get a chance to watch a couple of their guys wrestle. There will be some good matchups.”
Powell said this is a dual meet that sparks excitement in the practice room.
“Canon-McMillan has done such a good job,” he said. “I have our guys believing, believing in our system. If you have a confidence, good things happen. I can see us winning a solid six matches. If we get bonus points, we will make it a close match. These matches bring out the best in us.”