PITTSBURGH – Dalton Macri stood at the center of the mat, in front of the sellout crowd of 4,111, and raised his hands, urging a reaction from the fervent wrestling fans inside Pitt’s Fitzgerald Fieldhouse Sunday afternoon.
He was having the time of his life.
The senior state champion from Canon-McMillan had just won a 9-0 major decision over Nathan Boston, a three-time state champion from Woodford County, Ky., and wanted this moment to last.
It was a great way to cap a high school wrestling career, he thought, until they announced his name at the end of the Classic as the Outstanding Wrestler for the Pennsylvania team.
“It was tons of fun,” said Macri, who came into the match with a 133-15 record. “That’s what this event is for, to have fun.”
Macri’s win, though impressive, was not enough to pull the Pennsylvania team to victory. The United States won eight of the 14 bouts to take a 25-16 victory. It’s the third win in a row for the United States.
Teammate Solomon Chishko, a two-time state champion, had a more difficult time as he dropped a 3-1 decision to Joe McKenna, a three-time state champion from Blair Academy.
In the opener, Oklahoma routed the WPIAL, 37-10. Only one of the four local wrestlers emerged victorious. Brendan Price of Canon-McMillan started the dual meet off with a win at 113 but three others – Ty Buckiso of Peters Township at 138, Grant Fetchet of South Fayette at 145 and Jake Temple of Avella at 220 – lost close decisions.
Macri, headed for Cornell next season, led 2-0 after one period and 5-0 after two. Macri raised a roar from the crowd when he turned Boston twice for two backpoints in the final two minutes.
“I feed off when the crowd goes crazy,” said Macri, who won the 126-pound Class AAA title in Hershey last Saturday. “It’s such an honor to be in the same group of people whose names appear in some of the pages (of the program). It’s an honor to be considered with them. I had a hard time believing in my self the past couple of years. Now, I’m getting it.”
Chishko gave up a takedown 57 seconds into the bout and near the middle of the mat when McKenna captured his leg. McKenna made it 3-0 with an escape to start the second period. Chishko escaped with 1:08 left and chased McKenna over the mat trying for the tying takedown. Chishko got in on the leg with four seconds to go but McKenna avoided the takedown by going to a split as the buzzer sounded.
“He’s the top-ranked kid in the nation, so I know who he is,” said Chishko. “We’ve both been around.”
Chishko came into the match with a 132-8 record and will head to Virginia Tech to continue his career.
“It was a lot of fun to wrestle here,” said Chishko of the Classic. “They really took care of us. And we got some sweet gear. It’s just a fun time.”
Price gave the WPIAL a good start, stopping Braden Bennett of Locust Grove, Okla., 11-5, to give the WPIAL a 3-0 lead.
Price scored seven of his 11 points in the last three minutes to take an 11-5 win over Braden Bennett of Locust Grove to start the dual meet.
“I didn’t hear of him until I was picked for the Classic,” said Price, who is headed to Pitt. I looked him up and saw he was at the (Reno Tournament of Champions). I saw he had a cradle, so I tried to stay away from it.”
Wrestlers competed in two periods that lasted 2:30 each. Price had a 4-1 lead after the first period.
“There are a lot more people here than I thought,” said Price. “Usually, I’m in the crowd, not on the mat, so that was cool.”
Buckiso gave up a takedown in each of the two periods to lose a 4-1 decision to Will Steltzlen, a four-time state champion from Collinsville High School.
“I’ve been coming here forever (to watch),” said Buckiso, who is headed for The Citadel next fall. “This weekend was great; hanging out with all these guys was great.”
After a scoreless first period, Fetchet gave up a takedown and managed just an escape with 18 seconds to go to fall 2-1 to Jonce Blaynock, a two-time state champion from Berryhill with a 128-7 record. Fetchet, headed to Columbia, came into the bout with a 141-42 mark.
Temple could not hold Andrew Dixon, a two-time state champion with a 140-15 record from Edmond North, in the 30-second overtime period and dropped a 1-0 decision.
The Southwestern Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame inducted four new members: Troy Dolan, a four-time WPIAL champion and three-time state champion from Derry; Joe Makara, a two-time state champion from Burrell; Ron Park, a longtime coach at Hempfield; and this writer. … Jim Shields, a longtime coach at Burrell, received the Kurt J. Nellis Memorial Award for community service.