Younger Makara seeking his third WPIAL crown
The Makara family has earned its share of WPIAL titles over the years. Joe Makara won four WPIAL crowns (2000-2003), and now younger brother, Jason, will be seeking his third consecutive title this weekend at the WPIAL Class AA Championships at Charleroi Area High School.
Action is slated to begin at 5 p.m. today. The finals are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Makara (152 pounds) is one of nine defending champions entered in the tournament. Mt. Pleasant Area has four past champions. They are Lee Vanella (125), Joe Geary (130), Donnie Ament (145) and 2003 winner at 103 Zach Holt (112).
The other champions are Mars Area's Adam Smetana (119), Derry Area's Troy Dolan (112), Freedom's Damian Rose (140) Elderton's Todd Cessna (160), Jeannette's A.J. Graves (171) and 2003 winner at 112 Nick Schepis (135) of Carlynton.
Makara's (30-8) toughest competition is expected to come from either Fort Cherry's Ryan Cook (25-6) or Washington's Marc Montecalvo (29-10). The other highly contested weight classes will be 112, 119, 130, 145, 160 and 171.
Dolan, Holt, Burrell's Ron Barr and West Greene's Justin Blumer, a two-time Oklahoma state champion, are the top contenders at 112. Dolan (31-1) has defeated Blumer and Holt this season.
He said he's looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.
"They're all tough," Dolan said. "It's time to improve my conditioning for the battles that are ahead."
The 145-pound weight class will also be a battle between Ament and Burrell's Josh Shields. They have split their previous two bouts, and the two are expected to meet again in the finals. They also could meet a few more times before the season is over.
Graves and Valley's Logan Downes are expected to resume their battles. Downes, a PIAA third-place finisher in Class AAA last year, is seeking gold in Class AA. Graves has won the two meetings this year.
The top six wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional on March 4-5 at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown.
The individual tournaments in Class AAA get started Saturday at six different locations. They are Penn-Trafford High School (Section 1), Connellsville Area (Section 2), North Allegheny (Section 3), Fox Chapel (Section 4), McGuffey (Section 5) and Mt. Lebanon (Section 6).
The top three in each weight class will advance to the WPIAL Class AAA Championships on March 3-5 at Canon-McMillan High School.
In the Section 1 tournament, Greensburg Salem's Donnie Jones and Penn-Trafford's Tommy Picarsic are after their fourth section titles, and Greensburg Salem's Andrew Haile is seeking his third.
Other returning champions are Greensburg Central Catholic's Rudy Chelednik, Greensburg Salem's Adam Steele, Patrick Hutchinson and Jake Kurant, and Greater Latrobe's Ryan Goodman, Kameron Zitelli and 2003 winner Zach Small.
Ringgold's Mitch Pankiewicz will be after his fourth Section 2 title. But the Ringgold senior will be challenged by Connellsville's Zach Snyder, one of the toughest wrestlers in the WPIAL.
Connellsville's Steve Bell, Ashtin Primus, Josh Martin and Jason Doppelheuer are after their third crowns.
In Section 4, Plum's Sean Clair hopes to become a four-time winner, while Kiski Area's A.J. Milanak and Zach McKendree will attempt to become three-time winners.