One of the most debated decisions along press row at the PIAA Wrestling Championships – besides where to eat after the session – is who deserves to be voted Outstanding Wrestler at the end of each of the finals.
This gets debated with the same gusto that goes into our other squabbles, such as would last year’s Canon-McMillan team beat the Gus DeAugustino-coached North Allegheny teams of the 1980s.
It wasn’t a surprise that the Outstanding Wrestler award in Class AAA went to Chance Marsteller of Kennard-Dale. The 170-pound senior became the 11th four-time champion in the tournament’s history, a great accomplishment, and only the sixth wrestler to finish his high school career undefeated, an even greater accomplishment.
An argument was made that the wrestler who totally dominated his weight class was not Marsteller, who might or might not be battling some sort of back ailment. Rather, the name of Solomon Chishko, Canon-McMillan’s talented 145-pound senior and now two-time state champion, popped up from a number of people.
It was an easy argument to make.
Chishko, headed for Virginia Tech next fall, became the Big Macs’ 42nd state champion when he took apart Joe Galasso of Father Judge, who also happened to be a defending champion with a 26-0 record. The final score was 7-2, but it did not adequately show how in control Chishko was in this match.
Chishko toyed with the rest of the field, walloping Max Good of Cedar Cliff, 21-8, in the semifinals, clobbering Demetrie Probst of Central Mountain, 17-6, in the quarterfinals, and winning by technical fall, 25-10, over Ethan Stever of Exeter Township to open the tournament.
Marsteller, too, was outstanding and deserving, rolling over Kyle Coniker of Central Catholic, 14-2, in the finals after winning twice by technical fall and once by pin leading up to the Coniker match. He obviously was the crowd favorite, receiving a standing ovation twice, once immediately after the match, and again on the awards stand.
The writers covering the round received a ballot with two choices available. Both wrestlers made mine, but I think I will leave it at that rather than mention who was in my No. 1 slot and who was in No. 2. I’ll leave that debate to you.
Dalton Macri’s name will forever be linked to one of the great accomplishments of Canon-McMillan wrestling. His 5-1 win over Zach Valley of Northampton that won the 126-pound weight class was the 41st state title in the program’s history. It also made Canon-McMillan the best producer of state champions in the state’s history. The Big Macs came into this tournament tied with Clearfield with 40 champions apiece. Macri gave the Big Macs winner No. 41 and Chishko followed with No. 42.
Cleafield’s last champion was heavyweight Sean owen in 2008.
Meanwhile, WPIAL wrestlers won 11 of the 28 gold medals, including an incredible seven in a row to start the Class AAA finals. The WPIAL now has 352 champions, 127 more than second-place District 11.
How emotional can winning a state title be?
Jake Temple, who captured Avella’s first gold medal since Ryan Sella won at 98 pounds in the 1988 tournament, got up from the mat after winning a 4-2 decision from Andrew Dunn of Bethlehem Catholic in ultimate tiebreaker, threw his arms out and roared at the crowd before running into his coaches’ arms.
And that was just in the semifinals.
After beating Reynold “Buzzy” Maines 3-1 in the finals, Temple was overcome with emotion. With lots of Avella fans, including family and friends, giving out hugs and congratulations, Temple wondered into a warmup area in the back hall of the Giant Center and fell to the mat.
“You OK?” head coach Jeremy Allen asked.
Temple looked up and smiled.
“Oh yeah,” he said.
Who knew celebrating a championship would be so exhausting?
Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.