CANONSBURG – You can’t blame young Colin McCracken of Waynesburg if he didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.
McCracken was flying high following the events that took place Friday night at the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at Canon-McMillan High School.
Trailing No. 2 seeded Brendan Burnham of Pine-Richland, 3-2, late in their 160-pound quarterfinal bout, McCracken pulled a late takedown to beat Burnham, a third-place finisher at the PIAA tournament last season, 4-3, for a victory that sends McCracken into today’s semifinals.
Not too bad for a freshman competing in his first WPIAL tournament.
“I just kept working hard and gave it my all,” said McCracken, who raised his record to 30-6 with the win. “I went into this thinking this could be my last tournament of the year, so I wanted to give it my all, and I came out on top.”
If McCracken had any doubts about his ability to win heading into his matchup with Burnham, they were erased by the results of the bout that took place on the mat as he sat and waited. Penn Hills junior TeShan Campbell stunned the 160-pound top seed, Dominic Scalise of Latrobe, beating him 4-0.
“It’s crazy,” said McCracken. “There were upsets in this bracket. Everybody’s equal.”
At least they were on this night.
Now, McCracken finds himself heading into this morning’s semifinals, which begin at noon following a round of consolations, needing one victory to secure a trip to next week’s PIAA Championships. Consolation finals will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the finals at 7 p.m.
Standing in McCracken’s way is No. 3 seeded Austin Bell of Belle Vernon, who edged Brandon Yant of Franklin Regional, 5-1, in his quarterfinal bout.
“No one expected me to be here at the beginning of the year,” said McCracken. “But I just kept working hard. I improved a lot. This is unbelievable.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence. In the beginning, I was a freshman wrestling all of these upperclassmen. Now, I know I can compete with them.”
One senior who hopes to turn the tables on a freshman is Peters Township’s Tyler Buckiso.
Buckiso rolled through Fox Chapel’s Darius Booker in his 132-pound quarterfinal, 10-0, and draws Penn Trafford freshman Cameron Coy, the No. 2 seed, in the semifinals.
Coy defeated Buckiso, 4-2, in overtime at the Powerade Tournament en route to a third-place finish at the prestigious event. Buckiso settled for seventh.
“I’ve got to get revenge on that,” said Buckiso, who is seeded third at 132 pounds after finishing fourth here in 2013 and just missing a trip to the state tournament.
He hopes his experience is a factor against Coy.
“I wrestle a lot,” Buckiso said. “During the summer, I do a lot of tournaments. I give myself a break, but I do a lot of summer tournaments. I have a lot of experience, and I think that will help the more I wrestle. The more situations I get into, I know what to do.”
McCracken and Buckiso were two of 10 area wrestlers to advance to the semifinals.
McCracken is joined by Waynesburg teammates Shaun Wilson (120) and A.C. Headlee (126).
Canon-McMillan has four wrestlers remaining in the winner’s bracket, highlighted by returning WPIAL and PIAA champion Solomon Chishko at 145 pounds. Also advancing for the Big Macs were Brendan Price (113), Dalton Macri (126) and Malachi Krenzelak (138).
Trinity advanced 106-pounder Tristan Buxton, and Ringgold’s Devin Fallenstein reached the semifinals at 170 pounds.
Burnham and Scalise were two of just three wrestlers who entered the tournament seeded first or second who lost Friday. Butler’s Will Bortmas, the No. 2 seed at 220 pounds, dropped a 7-0 decision to Fred Mantsch of Hempfield.