Snow could be troublesome for WPIAL team tournament

January 21, 2014

Wrestling coaches, by nature, worry a lot.

They worry about the health of their athletes, how much those wrestlers weigh, and how to keep them motivated, especially after a tough loss.

Today, they are worrying about something else: the weather.

Sub-zero temperatures might cause the postponements of the WPIAL Section Team Tournaments, which are suppose to begin at 6 p.m. at seven different sites in Class AAA and AA.

The WPIAL will decide today whether to postpone matches.

“Snow is coming,” said Jefferson-Morgan head coach Mike Lesko. “It’s going to be bitter cold. If they change our date to Thursday, that’s going to be tough for us because we’re wrestling in the Bedford Tournament Friday and Saturday. That would be three straight days of wrestling.”

Jefferson-Morgan will meet Yough and Bentworth takes on host Derry, weather permitting, in the Section 2 doubleheader. The winners wrestle for the section title, the losers for third place.

Burgettstown is the host site for Section 1 and the Blue Devils take on Avella, while South Fayette encounters Ellwood City.

In Class AAA, Canon-McMillan will begin its quest for a 14th consecutive section title against West Allegheny at Montour. Trinity also will be there, wrestling the host team.

Peters Township is the host site for Section 2, where the Indians meet Connellsville in Round 1. Belle Vernon and Mt. Lebanon square off on the other mat.

West Greene, Chartiers-Houston, McGuffey and Ringgold are each in a fifth-place match.

The top five teams in each section enter the WPIAL Team Tournament, which begins next week.

“We definitely have to be ready,” said Bentworth head coach Mike Schrader. “We went through this already with (bad) weather. It could get interesting with 3 to 6 inches of snow.”

For one Jefferson-Morgan wrestler, it doesn’t matter whether the wrestling is held today or tomorrow. Jason Miller is coming back from a month-long layoff with a lower body injury and won’t be at full strength until next week.

Miller had a chance to eclipse the school’s wrestling victory mark of 142 held by Dustin Conti. But those dreams were dashed with the injury and lost time on the mat. Miller has 122 wins, 20 shy of tying the mark.

“I’m out of shape right now,” the 138-pound senior said. “The extra week would make a huge difference.”

Miller could dress for the section tournament, but would probably only be able to take a forfeit victory if the chance presented itself.

“It all depends,” Lesko said. “It’s such a grind. He’s not going to (compete) at Bedford. He’s just not in top shape yet. We’re just pulling back the reins a bit. What matters is what he does next week. If we need him, we’ll see what happens. It’s a 12-point swing, possibly, with him out of the lineup.”

Canon-McMillan set a WPIAL record for Class AAA teams when it won a fourth straight WPIAL Team Tournament title. The Big Macs, who can win their 35th section title, are the No. 3 team in the Observer-Reporter Wrestling Rankings, trailing Latrobe and No. 1 Franklin Regional.

South Fayette is looking for its first WPIAL team title. The Lions should be fresh for the postseason because most of their wrestlers did not begin competition until early January because of football season.

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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