Penn-Trafford wins title in thriller
The Penn-Trafford wrestling team needed a spark Saturday night in the WPIAL Class AAA Team Tournament final and heavyweight Ryan Tomei provided it.
The match was tied and Penn-Trafford (15-0) hoped to stop Canon-McMillan's momentum when Tomei, who is headed to Pitt, pinned Canon-McMillan heavyweight A.J. Williams in 18 seconds.
Tomei's pin and a major decision victory by Shane Young at 103 pounds helped Penn-Trafford hold on for a thrilling 28-27 victory at Gateway High School.
The win helped Penn-Trafford claim its first WPIAL team title and denied Canon-McMillan (14-6) from winning its sixth.
"Ryan knew we needed something big and he pumped up the team and our fans," Penn-Trafford coach Vince Testa said. "Ryan has won a lot of things, but that was probably, to him, the most exciting win he's had."
Canon-McMillan had rallied back from an 18-9 deficit to tie the score at 18-18 on a win by Ron Totterdale at 215 pounds.
That's when Tomei took the mat. He put Williams in a bear-hug and then picked him off the mat and onto his back for the fall. The large Penn-Trafford crowd erupted as Tomei gave them a pose.
"Everyone was telling me that I pretty much had to pin him to give us back the momentum," Tomei said. "I was pretty intense. I was trying to get everyone pumped up."
And he did. A pumped-up Young went out and easily dominated Ron Schram on his way to a 16-7 major-decision victory. Young's win gave Penn-Trafford a 28-18 lead.
"All I tried to do was get a major-decision victory," Young said. "I was confident I could do that."
Canon-McMillan needed to win the final three bouts to defeat Penn-Trafford, but one of those wins needed to be a major decision or better. All the Big Macs got were decisions victories by Colin Johnston (112), Chris Pihiou (119) and Justin O'Brien (125).
Johnston almost got the points Canon-McMillan needed to win when he stacked Penn-Trafford's Brock Livorio on his shoulders and nearly pinned him.
"We had him stacked and we didn't get it," Canon-McMillan coach Chris Mary said. "I was a good match. I'm proud of the wrestlers and their accomplishments. We're excited about going to the state tournament."
Penn-Trafford won some key bouts early. Jared Jones (130), Nick Hetherington (135) and Dan Matthews (160) won decisions, Bob Bryan (145) got a major decision and A.J. Brentzel (171) picked up a technical fall.
Matthews' 3-1 win over Canon-McMillan's Jordan Maier proved to be the difference. Testa moved Matthews away from Matt Ryan at 152 so he could gain a split, and the move worked.
"We had to get a split there," Testa said. "The coaches and I worked things out before the match and every time it came out 7-7 in matches. We just got enough bonus points."
Friday night, Testa sat stunned in the corner and couldn't believe his eyes when his team defeated Connellsville.
"The only difference (Saturday) was I was jumping up and down," said a happy Testa. "I was sick as a dog on Friday and I was fortunate the best medicine I could have had was a win against Connellsville."
Penn-Trafford moves to the PIAA Team Tournament quarterfinals on Friday at Hershey. Canon-McMillan can earn a trip to Hershey if it defeats Pittsburgh City League champion Langley (11-6) on Tuesday night at Brashear High School.