For the past three seasons, Canon-McMillan High School’s wrestling team has been thrilling fans with unprecedented victories and dominating performances, not just in this area but across the state.
Over the last four seasons, the Big Macs have won five state team titles and set a WPIAL record for Class AAA teams by winning four straight team championships.
It was a spectacular ride, filled with cheers, accolades and accomplishments that caused the rewriting of the program’s record book. Two of the most memorable dual-meet victories in the program’s history came over the past two seasons, each time against a great Central Dauphin team. The first was a semifinal win two years ago and the other a win that secured the PIAA team title.
Maybe best of all, those successes revived Washington County wrestling, which had been sagging before that point.
Now, the Big Macs begin a journey for a fifth straight WPIAL team title Wednesday in Canonsburg under different circumstances.
C-M has lost many of the talented wrestlers – including Connor Schram, Cody Wiercioch, Alex Campbell and Angelo Broglia – who played major roles in those victories.
There is still plenty of talent on the team – including Brendan Price, Dalton Macri, a state-runner-up last year; and Solomon Chishko, a defending state champion – and it’s produced a 14-0 record.
The Big Macs are strong, but another program – one that came so close to ending the Big Macs’ WPIAL team dominance last year – has grown even stronger this year.
Franklin Regional took the Big Macs down to the final bout in last year’s WPIAL team finals before dropping a 31-26 decision.
The Panthers not only return nearly all of the wrestlers from that team, they added two incredible talents in Spencer Lee at 113 pounds and Devin Brown, a transfer from Saegertown who won a state title in Class AA last season.
Franklin Regional has rolled through the season, compiling an 12-1 record and losing only to Wyoming Seminary, the No. 2-ranked team in the country behind Blair Academy. Franklin Regional is the top seed in the WPIAL Team Tournament, Latrobe is No. 2, Canon-McMillan No. 3 and North Allegheny No. 4.
The Panthers will have no problem getting past North Allegheny, and Canon-McMillan will defeat Latrobe in semifinal matches to set up a rematch of last year’s championship dual meet.
This time, look for Franklin Regional to end Canon-McMillan’s run in the finals with a 42-24 victory.
In Class AA, Burrell has won the past seven WPIAL team titles, a record, and enters the tournament as the top seed. The Bucs have an 8-3 record, but have battled injuries and also took some hits with the loss of such talents as Phil Marra and Dakota DesLauriers.
South Fayette, which lost to the Bucs in last year’s finals, is the No. 2 seed and has a strong team. It’s also a fresh team as the wrestling season did not get under way for the entire team until early January because of the Lions’ state championship run in football.
The Lions are 17-0 and don’t have many holes in the lineup. They match up well with Burrell, especially with strength in the upper weights.
Burrell should easily make the finals and South Fayette should be waiting.
Look for the Lions to win their first team title in program history with a 29-21 victory.
Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at email@example.com.