Newcomer Belle Vernon joins Powerade Tournament
The 2013 Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament will take place Dec. 27-28 at Canon-McMillan High School. The junior varsity tournament will be on Dec. 26 beginning at 1 p.m.
Now in its in 47th year, this tournament has been called “the toughest regular season tournament in Pennsylvania and the third best tournament in the country,” by WrestlingReport.
The opening round of the high school tourney followed by the first consolation round will begin at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 27 and will conclude with the quarterfinal matches and third consolation round at 7:30 p.m.
Wrestling on Dec. 28 will begin at 10 a.m. with the fourth consolation round and the semifinals and fifth consolation round tentatively set for 11:30 a.m. The consolation finals will start at 5 p.m., while the championship finals will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Belle Vernon Area High School is one of 11 new schools competing this year. The tourney will feature a record-high 46 team field from six different states.
Along with the Leopards, the other new participants include: Bishop McDevitt (PIAA District 3), Buford (Georgia), Chestnut Ridge (PIAA District 5), Collins Hill (Georgia), Eastern View (Virginia), Erie Prep (PIAA District 10), Mifflin County (PIAA District 6), Mt. Lebanon, Pope (Georgia), and St. Vincent/St. Mary's (Ohio).
Several returning local teams include host Canon- McMillan, Chartiers-Houston, Connellsville, Greenburg-Salem, Hempfield and Penn-Trafford.
All told, there are seven returning Powerade individual champions — Latrobe's Luke Pletcher (106) and Zack Zavatsky (160), Parkland's Ethan Lizak (113), Kittanning's Jason Nolf (132), Franklin Regional's Josh Shields (145), Kennard-Dale's Chance Marsteller (160) and Good Counsel of Maryland's Jemal Averette (220).
Marsteller will hope to become the tournament's fifth four-time Powerade individual champion. Derry High School's Jimmy Gulibon accomplished this feat in 2011 when he was named the tourney's Outstanding Wrestler. Preceding Gulibon were North Allegheny's Ty Moore (1986-89), Central Dauphin's Marshall Peppelman (2006-09) and Franklin Regional's Nico Megaludis (2007-10).
There also six returning Powerade finalists, 53 returning medalists and 24 defending state champions back in search of tourney gold.
Last year Blair Academy of New Jersey won its second straight tournament team title after the Buccaneers became the 21st different team to win a Powerade team title in 2011.
Blair Academy's titles marked the 12th time in 13 years that a non-WPIAL team has won the Powerade team title. Before Canon-McMillan's 2010 team title the last WPIAL schools to win Powerade were Connellsville and McGuffey in 1999 and 1998, respectively.
Connellsville and Chartiers-Houston have each won a tourney-most seven team titles. Central Dauphin (2007-09), Mount Carmel of Illinois (1992-94) and Chartiers-Houston (1972-74) are the only schools to win three straight team titles.
Preceding Central Dauphin as recent non-WPIAL Powerade team champions were Christiansburg of Virginia (2006). Cincinnati Moeller (2005), Mt. St. Joseph of Maryland (2004), Walsh Jesuit of Ohio (2002 and 2003), State College (2001), and St. Edwards Academy of Ohio (2000).
Event director Frank Vulcano Jr. believes this year's tourney field could be one of the more well-balanced in recent years, and all participating schools will benefit from the two-day event.
“We believe the Powerade Tournament is an excellent measuring stick for the competing teams,” Vulcano said. “Teams that complete here experience a similar atmosphere and quality level of competition that they will face this March at their state tournaments.
“This tournament remains a must-see event for all local high school wrestling fans.”
For more information, contact Powerade Tournament Director Frank Vulcano, Jr. at 412-298-5247 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bruce Wald is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.