Hempfield's Cavallo among area standout wrestlers recovering from injuries
Hempfield junior Ricky Cavallo was in line to join five other wrestlers Saturday as three-time Westmoreland County Coaches Association champions.
That would have given him a chance to possibly become only the tournament's 11th four-time champion next year.
But a concussion suffered during the Powerade Tournament on Dec. 27 at Canon-McMillan prevented that and forced him to miss the WCCA tournament.
The five wrestlers who became three-time champions were Franklin Regional senior Tyler Smith (132) and juniors Josh Maruca (145), Josh Shields (152); Latrobe senior Zack Zavatsky (182); and Kiski Area senior Shane Kuhn (285).
“When I won as a freshman, I knew I had a shot at becoming a four-time champion,” Cavallo said. “I won't be able to achieve that goal, but I still have a chance at winning three.
“I was really hoping I could wrestle in the counties. When I got dumped on my head at the Powerade, I knew I had a concussion. I saw a flash of light.”
Cavallo said he was diagnosed with a mild concussion. He passed the ImPACT test but said “I was sensitive to light, and they wouldn't (clear) me.”
Cavallo was cleared Tuesday to resume wrestling.
“I felt bad for Ricky,” Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine said. “But with a concussion, Ricky had to go through a five-step process. He's had so many injuries during his career. Hopefully, this is it for this season.”
Cavallo said he would have competed at 120 pounds. He wanted the opportunity to compete against Latrobe sophomore Luke Pletcher — ranked No. 1 in the country by InterMat wrestling — Derry sophomore George Phillippi, who is ranked No. 8, and Kiski School senior Justin Patrick.
“Ricky didn't want to shy away from anyone,” DeAugustine said. “These were opportunities for him to compete against some of the best.”
Cavallo said he was told to relax and let his brain recover.
He wasn't the only wrestler missing from the tournament because of injuries, a coach's decision or other reasons.
As good as the 2014 tournament was, it could have been better.
Out with injuries were Kiski School senior Zach Kelly, Norwin's Kevin Miller and Drew Phipps, Mt. Pleasant's Mike Novak, Burrell's J.R. Andrejcik and Latrobe's Tyler Mears. Valley senior Terrell Field also was absent from the tournament, and two of the top 220-pound wrestlers in the county — Franklin Regional's Brett Zanotto and Latrobe's Logan Carns — did not participate.
“We hope to have Kevin and Drew back for the Section 1-AAA tournament,” Norwin coach Todd Schuchert said. “Both have been battling nagging injuries.”
Mears is expected to return to practice this week, and teammate Dom Scalise, who injured his shoulder Friday and was forced to pull out, said he hopes he'll be back this week.
“I wanted to wrestle, but my coach (Tad Harbert) and dad said no,” Scalise said.
Injuries are part of this tough sport. There are a lot of good wrestlers nursing injuries.
North Allegheny senior Jesse Rodgers hasn't returned since injuring his knee at the Ironman Tournament in December, Canon-McMillan senior Solomon Chishko is just returning to the mat after tweaking his knee at Ironman and Charleroi senior Nick Gavazzi said his season maybe over after he injured his shoulder. He pulled out of the Tri-County tournament over the weekend.