Big Macs' rally seizes record 4th wrestling title in row in Class AAA

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Canon-McMillan's wrestling team added another chapter to its storied history Saturday night at Chartiers Valley High School, becoming the first team in WPIAL history to win four consecutive Class AAA titles.

The Big Macs, however, made their latest claim to fame only after a narrow, 31-26 win against Franklin Regional that went down to the final bout.

"Our kids responded to the challenge," coach Chris Mary said. "Do you know how hard it is to win four straight AAA titles? Especially when there's [48] teams in the WPIAL. The kids believed. It's part of our tradition. The singlet they put on inspires them."

Canon-McMillan's title was even more impressive, because the Big Macs were without two starters, including WPIAL champion Solomon Chishko, who has been out all season because of an elbow injury.

"We've had some injuries and other issues to deal with all year, but the kids overcame the adversity," Mary said. "I'm so proud to coach this group of kids."

It was no surprise to see Franklin Regional (17-3) seize a 17-5 lead when the match started at the 126-pound weight class. The strength of the Panthers' lineup is in the middle weights.

Franklin Regional's Michael Kemerer opened the match with a 20-5 technical fall against Josiah Hritsko at 126. Canon-McMillan's Connor Schram responded with a 22-7 technical fall against Dom Giannangeli at 132.

The next three bouts went to Franklin Regional, and the Panthers picked up bonus points in two. Tyler Smith recorded a 15-0 technical fall on his match against Nick Oberhaus at 138. Josh Maruca registered a 6-0 win at 145 against Alec Hutchin. Josh Shields followed with a 13-4 major decision against William Pihiou at 152.

At that point, Canon-McMillan began its rally. The Big Macs won four of the next five bouts to create a 20-20 tie. Sammy Minor began the rally with a 12-5 win against Brandon Yant at 160. Angelo Broglia capped it with a 6-3 win against Brett Zanotto at 220. Steve LaFrance and Cody Wiercioch added victories at 182 and 195 for the Big Macs.

Franklin Regional regained the lead with a gutsy performance by heavyweight Luke Fleck, who missed most of the season with a knee injury but managed an escape in the third overtime period to beat Alex Campbell, 3-2.

Canon-McMillan regained the lead with Brendan Price's 15-0 technical fall against Andrew Marshall at 106. But it didn't last long as Franklin Regional's Kyle Berk posted a 10-8 win against Josh Minor at 113.

Franklin Regional took a narrow, 26-25 lead into the final match, but its upset hopes were dashed by Dalton Macri, who needed one minute to pin Dan Turner and clinch the title for the Big Macs.

"I was so excited to have the match come down to my bout," Macri said. "I may have won the last bout, but it was a total team effort."

Canon-McMillan, Franklin Regional and North Allegheny qualified for the PIAA Class AAA tournament, which begins Monday. North Allegheny (16-3), the No. 3 seed, beat No. 5 Kiski Area (16-3) in the consolation final.

North Allegheny will face City League champion Allderdice (14-4) Monday in a preliminary-round match. Canon-McMillan and Franklin Regional won't wrestle until Thursday in Hershey.