The Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament will welcome back two local teams when it gets under way Dec. 29-30 at Canon-McMillan High School.
Trinity, which has not competed in this prestigious event since 2010, and Jefferson-Morgan, which has not wrestled at Powerade in this century, will be part of 14 new schools that bring the total number of teams to 47.
“It’s exciting for us,” said Trinity head coach Mark Powell. “Every year, we have been getting better. This just legitimizes what we are trying to do.”
Tournament director Frank Vulcano, the athletic director at Chartiers Valley High School, extended the invitation during the dual meet season when Trinity wrestled the Colts.
“The program is turning around,” said Vulcano. “Mark has done a great job there. They have some good wrestlers coming back: (Robert) West and (Michael) Kolosky. It will be good for the program and help them get their confidence up by coming back.”
An invitation to compete in the tournament, one of the most respected in the country, is quite an honor. The number of future state champions, national champions and Olympic champions who competed here could fill a wrestling workout room. Some of the more famous local names are Cary Kolat of Jefferson-Morgan, Bill DePaoli of Chartiers-Houston, Coleman Scott of Waynesburg and Cody Wiercioch of Canon-McMillan.
Chance Marsteller of Kennard Dale became only the fifth wrestler in the tournament’s 46-year history to win four titles. The others are Ty Moore (1986-89) of North Allegheny, Marshall Peppelman (2006-09) of Central dauphin; Nico Megaludis (2007-10) of Franklin Regional and Jimmy Gulibon (2008-11) of Derry.
Such powerhouse programs as Blair Academy, Walsh Jesuit and St. Edwards of Cleveland have won team titles.
“When we were wrestling Chartiers Valley, Frank asked me if it was time for us to get back into Powerade,” Powell said. “I told him yes.”
Powell believes the Hillers can leave C-M’s gym with some medals and a lot of valuable experience.
“When you look at the tournament next year, we have an opportunity for a handful of kids to place. I’ll have to evaluate the newer guys to see if they are ready,” he said.
The last champion at Powerade from Jefferson-Morgan was Justin Tracanna, who won his second consecutive gold medal in 1995. Interestingly, Brandon Teasdale was a champion in 1991 and 1993 and his son, Gavin, will be a freshman at Jefferson-Morgan next fall. Gavin Teasdale is one of the most highly regarded freshmen in the state. He won the 88-pound title in the Cadet Freestyle Nationals, allowing only six bout points in nine matches and recording seven shutouts.
Chartiers-Houston, which has a tournament-best 42 individual champions and is tied with Connellsville with seven team titles, won’t compete this year.
Franklin Regional, which won the PIAA Team Tournament titles last season, returns to defend its Powerade team title.
Find out more at www.poweradewrestling.com.
Jake Temple, who went 43-0 and won the first state title for Avella in 26 years, will attend Seton Hill University and will wrestle at 197 pounds.
Nick Gavazzi, who originally committed to Pitt, will attend Clarion University. Gavazzi (149) missed nearly all of last season with a shoulder injury.
Trinity’s Tristan Buxton (125), Derek Hull (174, 184) of Chartiers-Houston and Zach Swarrow (125, 133) of Beth-Center are headed to Waynesburg University.
Solomon Chishko (149, 157), a two-time state champion from Canon-McMillan, is headed to Virginia Tech; and teammate Brendan Price (125) will attend Pitt. Another C-M wrestler, state champion Dalton Macri (125), is going to Cornell.