CANONSBURG – Dalton Macri jumped to his feet, pumped his fist and looked around at the cheering crowd at Canon-McMillan High School.
Macri was so excited, he nearly forgot to allow the official to raise his hand following his 4-3 victory over Hempfield’s Sam Krivus in the championship match of the 126-pound weight class at the WPIAL championships Saturday night.
It was understandable.
After all, Macri, a Canon-McMillan senior, trailed 3-1 with just 1:11 remaining in the third period against Krivus, a returning WPIAL and state champion who allows opponents points as grudgingly as MSNBC runs a positive story about a Republican.
But with Macri pressing hard a Krivus to escape with just over a minute remaining, he forced the issue.
“I just wanted to attack, attack, attack and keep wrestling,” said Macri, a runner-up here a year ago. “That was on the only thing in my head, to keep attacking.”
Krivus drew a second stalling call with 10 seconds remaining to allow Macri to trim the lead to 3-2. Then, on a restart with both wrestlers standing, Macri took a shot with time running out and caught Krivus’ ankle. As both wrestlers tumbled to the mat, Macri landed on top as time expired and was awarded a takedown and his first WPIAL championship.
“It was crazy,” said Macri, who was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler. “It makes you think all this hard work is worth it.
“I went low and I think he was thinking, ‘Watch out for the throw.’ I caught the ankle and got the two. I heard the ref say, ‘Time.’ I knew when he said time that I had both my arms around him and I wasn’t letting go.”
It was a big moment in a weight class many considered the most difficult at this year’s WPIAL tournament. Including Krivus and Macri, who finished second at the state tournament last year, the 126-pound WPIAL bracket included four returning state placewinners, with Waynesburg’s A.C. Headlee and North Allegheny’s Dom Forys.
Only the top three advanced to this week’s PIAA tournament in Hershey and Macri wasn’t going to settle for second, even though he had already assured his spot at Hershey.
“I just feel really good for Dalton because he’s such a hard worker,” said Canon-McMillan’s Solomon Chishko, who won his fourth WPIAL champion with a 9-4 victory over Franklin Regional’s Josh Maruca in the 145-pound final.
“I’m friends with Krivus, but I had my bets on Dalton because he’s been training so hard. We’re always in the room. He kills himself every single day.”
That hard training paid off, just as it did for Chishko, with a WPIAL championship.
Chishko, a defending PIAA champion, became just the 24th four-time champion in WPIAL history and sixth from either Canon-McMillan or Canonsburg high schools.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Chishko. “It’s an awesome feeling to be up there with guys like that. I always looked up to guys like Nico Megaludis and Jimmy Gulibon, other four-timers, so it’s kind of cool to do something that they’ve done.
“It’s pretty cool to be in this school’s annals as well. It will always be cool to have my name as a four-time champion. It means a lot. It definitely something I can look back at and be proud.”
Ringgold matched the Big Macs by sending two on to the state tournament for the first time in school history.
Sophomore Doug Gudenburr avenged an earlier 2-1 loss in the quarterfinals against Canon-McMillan’s Brendan Price, winning 3-1 in the 113-pound consolation finals.
“It felt good because he had beaten me earlier in the tournament, so I got to wrestle back and get some payback,” said Gudenburr, who also had been pinned by Price during the regular season.
Gudenburr, the youngest PIAA qualifier in Ringgold history, will be joined in Hershey by senior teammate Devin Fallenstein, who finished third at 170 pounds by outpointing Belle Vernon’s Milton Kobaly, 13-8.
Headlee also will return to Hershey after finishing third at 126 pounds with a 10-5 victory over Forys in the third-place match.
Headlee rallied to beat Forys, catching him in a headlock in the closing minute and taking him to his back for a five-point move.
“We’re probably the best four wrestlers in this weight class in the state,” Headlee said. “It’s a shame they don’t take four from here because one of us was going to be left out.”
Peters Township senior Ty Buckiso also assured himself a spot in the PIAA bracket with a 3-1 victory over Bethel Park’s Nino Bonaccorsi in the 132-pound third-place match.
Just missing the cut in addition to Price and finishing fourth were McGuffey’s Gage Nicolella at 106 pounds and Canon-McMillan’s Malachi Krenzelak at 138.