Canon-McMillan rallies for second consecutive state title
HERSHEY — Canon-McMillan became the first team from the WPIAL to win two PIAA Class AAA Team Championships.
The Big Macs won their second consecutive in dramatic fashion, rallying to upset four-time state champion Central Dauphin, 34-31, Saturday at Giant Center.
Junior Brendon Price edged Zach Elvin, 4-3, in the final bout at 106 pounds to end a rally that saw Canon-McMillan trail 31-19 with three bouts remaining.
Seniors Alex Campbell (220 pounds) and Alex Broglia (285) set the stage for the heart-thumping final match by recording pins to tie the score, 31-31.
That left Price to battle Elvin. Price, who lost to Elvin twice last year, scored the first takedown to set the tone.
“He's good on top, and I'm a little bigger and stronger this year,” Price said. “I had to control the match. Last year he had size on me. I have it in my heart I can beat anybody.”
It was his team's heart that Canon-McMillan coach Chris Mary said was the difference.
Mary leaped from his chair when the final horn sounded and pointed to the Canon-McMillan fans.
“This one brought tears to my eyes for what these kids overcame,” Mary said. “We were a better team last year. This was won on heart. Last year we had more talent.”
Both teams won seven bouts, but the difference was bonus points. Canon-McMillan had three pins and two technical falls, while Central Dauphin got a fall, a forfeit, a technical fall and two major decisions.
Central Dauphin coach Jeff Sweigard also had tears in his eyes. He said he knew not getting bonus points at 145, 152 and 170 pounds was the difference.
“I had a feeling it would come down to 106,” Sweigard said. “Two state-ranked kids, and Price pulled it out. It was a great match for the fans, but a tough one for our team.”
A pin by Dalton Macri (120) and a technical fall by Connor Schram (126) gave Canon-McMillan an early 11-4 lead. When Alec Hutchin (132) won a decision, the Big Macs were up, 14-4.
Central Dauphin strung together five consecutive victories to grab a 26-14 lead before Canon-McMillan's Cody Wiercioch (182) and Central Dauphin's Terrance Parson (195) traded technical falls.
“We saved bonus points, Nick (Oberhaus), William (Pihou) and Sammy (Minor),” Mary said. “Alex and Angelo knew we needed falls, and I told Brendon just to go out and have fun.
“This is one of the best days in my entire life. I can't express it in words. I'm so proud of these guys for fighting through adversity to win a second state title.”
Canon-McMillan was without two starters — state place-winner Solomon Chishko and Malachi Krenzelak. Both were out with injuries.
“Last year we were kind of the favorite,” Schram said. “This year I was a little nervous, and I'm not going to lie. We were looking on paper on how we were going to win. Now that we did, it's like a dream. I can't fathom how we won.”
Franklin Regional finished third in the state by rallying to defeat Easton, 29-26.
Andrew Marshall (106) defeated Cason Corallo, 7-1, to decide the match. A win by Brett Zanotto (220) and a pin by heavyweight Luke Fleck tied the score, 26-26.
Franklin Regional reached the third-place match by avenging a loss to Erie McDowell on Jan. 25, winning 29-25 in the consolation semifinals. Fleck, who didn't wrestle in the first meeting, won a 3-2 in overtime tiebreaker.
“First time down here and we take third place,” Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. “We would have liked to be in the finals, but we avenged some of our losses.
“Andrew has been in a slump since the playoffs, but to break it was huge for him. Luke battled back from some knee injuries and is getting into shape. Our goal next year is to be in that center mat.”
Bethlehem Catholic defeated Reynolds, 43-16, to capture the Class AA title.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.