Canon-Mac wrestlers shine again at PIAA championships
HERSHEY — Canon-McMillan shined again on the center stage at the PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Championships on Saturday at Giant Center.
But no one celebrated a victory better than Hampton senior Jake Hart.
After beating Kiski Area and Penn State recruit Matt McCutcheon for the second consecutive week, Hart nailed a backflip in the middle of the mat to wow the crowd.
Hart, who beat McCutcheon in overtime at 195 pounds at the WPIAL Championships, won this time, 6-1. He used an escape to tie the match in the third period, then was awarded a point when the official penalized McCutcheon for fleeing the mat.
In the final seconds, he took down McCutcheon to seal the victory.
“My high school career finally ended on top,” Hart said. “I kind of figured coming into the tournament it would be us all year in the WPIAL and state finals. For me to come out on top both times … is out of my mind. You don't know how happy I am.”
Hart lost in last year's state finals to Central Catholic's Perry Hills at 195 pounds.
“I was going use the backflip last year, but last year didn't turn out that well,” Hart said. “I kept it in my bag for this year. Wrestling in the finals last year helped me out. I wrestle so much better in tournaments than I do in dual matches.”
Canon-McMillan won its third consecutive tournament title and left with three state champions for the first time since 1950, when it was known as Canonsburg.
The WPIAL finished with seven champions in 10 weight classes, and the three who lost fell to WPIAL wrestlers.
The last time the WPIAL had that many winners was in 2009.
Connor Schram (126), Solomon Chishko (145) and Cody Wiercioch (170) won titles for Canon-McMillan.
For Schram, it was his second title, the first coming at 103 in 2010.
Wiercioch became the 39th three-time champion in the state.
Schram (45-3) defeated Franklin Regional sophomore Michael Kemerer, 5-3. Schram wore the same singlet he wore as a freshman.
“I couldn't find it for a couple years,” Schram said. “My mom is superstitious, and when I found it, she told me I had to wear it. It still fits. I never lost a match here in it.
“The last two years were the worst feeling in the finals. You feel so low and bad, and I told my coaches I never want to feel that way again. I worked harder than ever, and it's an honor to be back here and win another state title.”
Chishko (11-0) won his first title by blanking Cedar Cliff senior Chris Vassar, 8-0. Chishko is a three-time PIAA place-winner, finishing third twice.
Wiercioch (44-1) held up three fingers after defeating Penncrest senior Joe Gartland, 7-2.
The other three state champions came from Westmoreland County.
Latrobe freshman Luke Pletcher won his first, defeating Solanco junior Connor Sheehan, 8-2, at 106.
Hempfield sophomore Sam Krivus handed Canon-McMillan junior Dalton Macri a 3-1 loss at 120, and Franklin Regional junior Tyler Smith won the 132 title with a 5-3 win against Cumberland Valley sophomore Patrick Duggan.
Krivus didn't celebrate after his match. It was his ninth consecutive win on the mats in Giant Center. Last year, he lost his first match and then won five consecutive to finish third.
“Winning the title hasn't hit me yet,” said Krivus, who became Hempfield's ninth state champion. “I feel awesome. Just knowing all the hard work I put in during the season finally paid off.”
After winning, Smith (45-4) turned to his coach, Eric Mausser, pumped his fists and yelled out.
“This is the best feeling ever,” Smith said.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.