Remember these names

There are three names of out-of-town wrestlers to remember when you make the trip to Hershey for the state wrestling tournament. These wrestlers who excelled at Powerade will only get better and have the talent to be state champions.

1. Josh Kindig of Blue Mountain: This freshman beat McGuffey's No. 6 seed Matt Scherich, No. 2 seed Mike Holcomb of Kellm and then pushed top-seeded Nico Cortese, a state runnerup from Hempfield, to three OTs before losing by rideout at 119 pounds

2. Marshall Peppelman. He's a freshman and brother of Walter Peppelman of Cantral Dauphin, a state runner-up last season. Marshall Peppelman beat the Nos. 5, 2 and 1 seeds in winning at 130 pounds.

3. Joe Lascari. This freshman from North Star continues in a long line of Lascaris and knocked off the Nos. 7 and 3 seeds before losing to Shane Young of Penn Trafford in the 103-pound finals.


Powerade thoughts

Through the first day of the Powerade Christmas Tournament, a few things struck me.

No matter how tough this tournament is, and it is one of the best in the country, there are always some magnificent success stories. I wrote about Chris Pihiou making the semifinals after he beat the wrestler who upset the top seed in the 135-pound weight class. It just goes to show you that no matter how big the tournament, any wrestler can do well.

The controversy over the 189-pound quarterfinal bout between Waynesburg's Troy Cree and No. 2 see Andy Thomas of Parkersburg shows just how difficult it is to officiate in wrestling. The two were tied 1-1 in OT and Cree shot in and picked Thomas up before taking him to the mat. The referee gave two for the takedown but Cree lost control when the two hit the mat and Thomas wriggled free. The ref waived off the takedown and Thomas spun around for a takedown of his own and the win. This all happened in about 3 seconds. I would much rather write about wrestling than referee it.

Ethan Headlee's 4-0 victory over Kam Zitelli of Latrobe in the quarters showed me the Waynesburg 160-pounder has the talent to not only reach Hershey but earn a high place after he drops to 152.

Luke Miller of Chartiers-Houston had an impressive win over Stefan Firmstone of Mt. Pleasant in the 215 QFs. Miller is having a strong season.

Finally, if the WPIAL wants a tournament run the right way, then Frank Vulcano and his band of merry men should be the first ones to call. Vulcano, who heads the wrestling steering committee for the WPIAL, puts on a first-class operation and gets a lot of help from people all over the area who appreciate wrestling. They do an outstanding job.


A bad, good idea

The recent rumblings from the PIAA about increasing the classifications of football has some people scrambling to work out a perfect plan if the changes take place.

One idea that probably will not happen is contracting the districts to make the season shorter. That would dramatically affect wrestling. One obvious move would be putting District 8 (City League) back into the WPIAL. They would be most welcome in the WPIAL by the wrestling population. One of the reasons why the Southwest has three qualifiers instead of four is the loss of District 8 to the Northwest in the 1990s. Those Pgh. schools have a better chance to advance wrestlers to the state tournament in the Northwest and won't relish a move back to D-7.

The other reason why the PIAA would have trouble contracting districts around the state is the money these districts get in their communities from holding tournaments. For example, hotels and restaurants make a lot of money from wrestling's regional tournaments. District reps will fight hard to keep things as they are.

We feel your pain

Add Trinity's Grant Lowther to the list of walking, but not wrestling, wounded in this high school wrestling season. The Trinity senior has an undisclosed injury and will not be in the lineup for the Powerade Tournament, which starts Friday at Canon-McMillan High School. he is expected back in mid-January.

Trinity coach Jeff Bricker doesn't want to reveal what's wrong because he's afraid wrestlers will try to aggravate the condition when Lowther returns. Would other wrestlers do that? Nahhhh.

Geez, at this rate, there may be no one left to wrestle when the postseason begins. The injury list includes West Greene's Kory Bissett (shoulder), SS Beaver's John Prezzia (knee), Fort Cherry heavyweight Matt Kosarik (back), and Burgettstown's Ryan Watson (shoulder). And that's just in the first month. Granted, some of those injuries happened before the season, but that doesn't make it any easier to take.

Maybe wrestling should change its rules to allow padding.


C-M McG notes

After watching Friday night's match between Canon-McMillan and McGuffey, I came away with a few thoughts on the two teams.

Even though Colin Johnston, the defending state champion from C-M, won a tight decision, 3-1, over Josh Daniels, he wrestled one of his better matches of the season. Daniels is taller, has more leverage and is very talented. Johnston rode Daniels for the entire third period, no easy task. Daniels' chance to win the bout was lost early one when he was too tentative. He admitted as much to his coach after the bout.

Matt Ryan had a similar match to Jonston's, beating McGuffey's Ben Dunaway 2-0. Again, Dunaway is a good wrestler, 23-7 last season, and Ryan, a state runner-up last year, rode him well. A good sign.

Here is how you know Chris Mary is a good coach. The improvement made by the Big Macs from a season-opening loss to Connellsville and a win over McGuffey was dramatic. His teams are always better at the end than at the beginning, or even at midseason.

I have high hopes for Matt Scherich, a 30-match winner for McGuffey last season who went 0-2 at the state tournament. He looks stronger this season. A medal in Hershey is within reach if he remains healthy.


Wrestling sites


WPIAL Wrestling Sites
Class AAA Tournaments
Saturday, Feb. 24
Section 1 at Gateway
Section 2 at Connellsville
Section 3 at Fox Chapel
Section 4 at Waynesburg
Section 5 at Trinity
WPIAL Championships
March 1-3
at Norwin High School
PIAA Championships
March 8-10
at Giant Center

Class AA
Saturday, Feb. 17
Section 1 at Chartiers-Houston
Section 2 at Mt. Pleasant
Section 3 at SS Academy
WPIAL Championships
Feb. 23-24
at Charleroi High School
Southwest Region
March 2-3
at Johnstown War Memorial
PIAA Championships
March 8-10
at Giant Center


Brownlee out

As amazing as it seems, Sam Brownlee is not eligible to wrestle for Canon-McMillan this season. The PIAA upheld the WPIAL's original decision that Brownlee transferred to C-M from Mt. Lebanon for athletic intent. What is so bizarre is that the PIAA did overturn the WPIAL decision that made Rob Gronkowski eligible to play football for Woodland Hills this season after transferring from a high school near Buffalo. Gronkowski's father said in a newspaper interview that one of the reasons why he transferred was because of the high level of competitive football.

How is this not athletic intent?

I don't know all the circumstances surrounding the Brownlee transfer. Maybe the PIAA took a dim view of him transferring during the school year. Gronkowski's came over the summer. But this is what I do know. The system seems to work out for some and not for others. The dividing point never seems to be in the same place.

My suggestion is this: either open the doors and let anyone who wants to transfer, do so or make every transfer sit out a year, no matter what the circumstances. That would stop these time-consuming eligibility hearings that seem uneven and, at times, unfair.

There is a lot to lose for any student who transfers during his or her high school career. You leave friends and family and enter a school district that may not be what you thought it was. I would imagine it would be a lonely transition and that there would even be resentment from athletes who get displaced from the lineup when a transfer moves in.

I can tell you this. Transferring to a different school is not going to get you a scholarship. Your athletic ability will. If you compete at a small school, you will not be overlooked by recruiters. Few athletes fall through the recruiting cracks because communication is so much more advanced now.

Scouting services, and the internet, for example, makes it easier to track an athlete who plays at Hickory, Ind., or Hollywood, Calif. Transferring to a larger program or a bigger school might give you more exposure but talent is the measuring stick for scholarships.


Out of the Blue

It's easy to overlook young, inexperienced wrestling teams before the season starts. But we have to stop doing that with Burgettstown, now. Against West Greene, the No. 3 team in the O-R's preseason rankings, Burgettstown pinned its way to a 44-33 victory Wednesday. The upper weights carried the fight to the Pioneers, despite Ryan Watson missing the season with a shoulder injury. If the Blue Devils get any help down below, they will be difficult to beat.

You have to give head coach Terry Havelka credit. He consistently builds strong teams in a small school district and has to battle against some tough situations in the school. Gee, it sounds a lot like what Allen Hughes goes through at West Greene. That's why I respect the work of these coaches.

The Pioneers miss Kory Bissett. He is recovering from shoulder surgery. But having to forfeit at 103 is really hurting them. They don't have any one who is ready so unless someone falls out of the sky, it will be difficult for them to win the team title.

A slight change

In an effort to get some responses on the blog, you no longer have to register. Simply put your responses, questions, complaints, criticism, etc., into the box when you hit the comment link and off it goes. I will answer every one of them.


C-M's Johnston pinned

Colin Johnston, a defending state champion from Canon-McMillan High School, was pinned in the 125-pound finals of the Ironman Tournament by Boris Novachkov of Fremont, Calif., Saturday.
Other C-M results: Matt Ryan placed sixth at 160 and Chris Pihious was eighth at 135.
Canon-McMillan placed 14th in the 54-team field.


C-H tourney results


Chartiers-Houston Invitational
at Chartiers-Houston
Team Scores
1. Chartiers Valley 139, 2. West Allegheny 137, 3. Elizabeth Forward 131, 4. Shady Side Academy 117.5, 5. Jefferson-Morgan 116, 6. South Side beaver 110, 7. Albert Gallatin 99, 8. Keystone Oaks 97.5, 9. Fort Cherry 96.5, 10. Norwin 91, 11. Burgettstown 90, 12. Chartiers-Houston 86.5, 13. Kittanning 59, 14. Ringgold 57.5, 15. Charleroi 36, 16. Southmoreland and Bentworth 33, 18. Mt. lebanon 32.5, 19. Riverview 23, 20. Apollo Ridge 9, 21. Freedom 6

Individual Results
103–Frank Martolotti, SS Academy dec. Brian Scritchfield, Jefferson-Morgan 6-0
112–Dane Johnson, SS Academy dec. Anthony Zanetta, Keystone Oaks 5-0
119–Corey James, W. Allegheny dec. Cameron Fine, Elizabeth Forward 2-0
125–Joe Hawley, Norwin maj. dec. Zach Schilinski, Burgettstown 12-0
130–Zach Kelly, West Alegheny dec. Ty Basinger, Jefferson-Morgan 4-1
135–Dom Demor, SS Beaver dec. Brad Zitney, Albert Gallatin 7-0
140–Jake Boyer, Elizabeth Forward dec. Grady Paxton, Chartiers-Houston 8-2
145–Jesse Byerly, Keystone Oaks dec. Dennis Fix, Norwin 7-0
152–Adam Hoffman, Fort Cherry dec. Troy Reaghard, W. Allegheny 5-4
160–Zak Klinvex, SS Academy dec. Mike Meglen, Chartiers Valley 9-4
171–Lance Bryson, Albert Gallatin dec. Corey O’Keefe, Chartiers Valley 4-1
189–Matt Wilps, Chartiers Valley dec. Jake L215–Luke Miller, Chartiers-Houston dec. Dan Utchel, Chartiers Valley 7-2

Third & Fourth
103–Lucarini, Fort Cherry dec. Lubin, Chartiers Valley 7-6
112–Blackmun, Ringgold maj. dec. LiPari, Chartiers-Houston 12-1
119–Kochanek, Mt. Lebanon pinned Hawley, Norwin 2:17
125–Lowry, Albert Gallatin dec. Morris, Chartiers Valley 8-4
130–Curtician, Burgettstown maj. dec. Menzer, Ringgold 12-1
135–Etzel, Elizabeth Forward dec. Johnson, Jefferson-Morgan 3-1
140–Atwood, Kittanning pinned Alvarez, Norwin 3:18
145–Ritrosky, Kittanning dec. Lytle, Chartiers Valley 10-4
152–San Doval, SS Academy dec. Dulaney, Albert Gallatin 3-2
160–Pleskovich, Fort Cherry maj. dec. Beal, Southmoreland 15-3
171–Wonsettler, Bentworth dec. Dezort, Riverview 7-3
189–Evans, Elizabeth Forward dec. Herder, SS beaver 14-9
215–Mitchell, Albert Gallatin maj. dec. Virgili, Jefferson-Morgan 11-3
Hvy–Muraco, West Allegheny dec. Rodgers, Norwin 3-1 OT

103–Frank Martollotti, SS Academy tech. fall over Andrew Lucarini, Fort Cherry 4:37; Brian Scritchfield, Jefferson-Morgan dec. Sean Lubin, Chartiers Valley 6-2
112–Johnson, SS Academy pinned LiPari, Chartiers-Houston 3:33; Zanetta, Keystone Oaks dec. Blackman, Ringgold 6-3
119–James, West Allegheny dec. Kochanek, Mt Lebanon 4-3; Fine, Elizabeth Forward dec. Hawley, Norwin 4-3
125–Joey Hawley, Norwin dec. Matt Lowry, Albert Gallatin 6-2; Schilinski, Burgettstown pinned Hartman, Elizabeth Forward 5:24
130–Basinger, Jefferson-Morgan pinned Malcomb, South Side Beaver 2:29: Zach Kelley, West Allegheny dec. James Curtician, Burgettstown 6-2
135–Demor, South Side Beaver maj. dec. Etzel, Elizabeth Forward 13-2; Brad Zitney, Albert Gallatin dec. Joel Nelson, Kittanning 5-2
140–Boyer, Elizabeth Forward maj. dec.Atwood, Kittanning 8-0; Grady Paxton, Chartiers-Houston dec. Darren Bollman, West Allegheny 7-1
145–Byerly, Keystone Oaks dec. Lytle, Chartiers Valley 11-4; Dennis Fix, Norwin maj. dec. Zach Ritrosky, Kittanning 8-0
152–Hoffman, Fort Cherry dec. San Doval, SS Academy 9-2; Troy Reaghard, West Allegheny dec. Jeff Dulaney, Albert Gallatin 3-1
160–Klinvex, SS Academy dec. Pleskovich, Fort Cherry 3-2; Mike Meglen, Chartiers Valley dec. Jeff Beal, Southmoreland 4-0
171–Bryson, Albert Gallatin dec. Wonsettler, Bentworth 6-2; Corey OKeefe, Chartiers Valley dec. David Grillo, Charleroi 4-1
189–Wilps, Chartiers Valley tech. fall over Herder, South Side Beaver 4:48; Leinsky, West Allegheny dec. Evans, Elizabeth Forward 9-5
215–Miller, Chartiers-Houston maj. dec. Mitchell, Albert Gallatin 14-4; Utchel, Chartiers Valley tech. fall over Virgili, Jefferson-Morgan 6:00
Hvy–Caragein, Keystone Oaks pinned Rodgers, Norwin :44; Martz, South Side Beaver by default over Kosarik, Fort Cherry 3:24

Falling like flies

Geez, the wrestling season is only one week old and a half dozen wrestlers are battling some serious injuries.
Burgettstown's Ryan Watson, a really promising sophomore, will miss the season while recovering from shoulder surgery.
SS Beaver's John Prezzia will miss a month with a knee injury.
West Greene's Kory Bissett will miss a month with shoulder problem.
Fort Cherry's Matt Kosarik has back problems.
And on and on and on.


Bissett, Prezzia hurting

The wrestling season is not a week old and two of the WPIAL's top Class AA wrestlers are watching from the stands. West Greene's Kory Bissett, a third-place finisher at 135, and South Side Beaver's John Prezzia, who won the 103-pound title in Hershey, will each miss the month of December while recovering from offseason surgeries. Bissett has a shoulder injury and Prezzia had a lingering knee problem taken care of. The good news is that both are ahead of the rehab time and are expected to make a full recovery.


A peek at the East

The Easton newspaper had a wrestling preview that will give you an idea of the strength in that area,

Here's the link:



For you stat geeks


Here is a link to a graphic of returning WPIAL champions and how they fared in the tournament over their careers. While there is no byline, this has to be the handywork of Ken Wunderley. They don't call him Stats for nothing.


Top WPIAL returners

The following are the top three WPIAL wrestlers returning in each weight class in Class AAA.
1. Nico Cortese, Hempfield
2. Joe Walko, North Allegheny
3. Zach Zummo, Plum
1. Colin Johnston, Canon-McMillan
2. Jake Quinten, Plum
3. Brock Livorio, Penn-Trafford
1. Rudy Chelednik, Hempfield
2. Matt Scherich, McGuffey
3. Ian McLaughlin, Butler
1. Grant Lowther, Trinity
2. Nick Garber, Waynesburg
3. Josh Daniels, McGuffey
1. Matt Nelson, Shaler
2. Jake Kemerer, Hempfield
3. Tony Clark, Kiski
1. James Fleming, West Mifflin
2. Cory Perrotte, North Hills
3. Billy McAdoo, McGuffey
1. Nick Nelson, Shaler
2. Brett Landefeld, N. Allegheny
3. Scott Throckmorton, Waynesburg
1. Jesse Byerly, Keystone Oaks
2. Ethan Headlee, Waynesburg
3. Brandon Cutenese, Avonworth
1. Ryan Goodman, Latrobe
2. Matt Ryan, Canon-McMillan
3. Brian Letters, Fox Chapel
1. Eric Williams, Trinity
2. Kam Zitelli, Latrobe
3. Mike Salopek, Norwin
1. A.J. Brentzel, Penn-Trafford
2. Rob Waltko, N. Allegheny
3. Lance Bryson, Albert Gallatin
1. Dan Vaughn, Central Catholic
2. Kevin Bella, Albert Gallatin
3. Kevin Roshinsky, Ambridge
1. T.J. Valore, Hempfield
2. Keith Higginbotham, Waynesburg
3. Dave Mitchell, Albert Gallatin
1. Myles Caragein, Keystone Oaks
2. Jim Palmer, Thomas Jefferson
3. Steve Santia, Hempfield

The following are the top three WPIAL wrestlers returning in each weight class in Class AA.
1. John Prezzia, SS Beaver
2. Dane Johnson, SS Academy
3. Colin Sheridan, Mt. Pleasant
1. Jordan Shields, Burrell
2. Zach Sheridan, Mt. Pleasant
3. Mitch Spencer, Avella
1. Troy Dolan, Derry
2. Ty Basinger, Jeff-Morgan
3. Levi Smeltzer, Elderton
1. Dom Demor, SS Beaver
2. Josh Switzer, Elderton
3. Dean Baker, Carlynton
1. Shane Welsh, Burrell
2. Dave Ivashchenko, South Park
3. Ty Vanella, Mt. Pleasant
1. Kory Bissett, West Greene
2. Devon Maloney, Burrell
3. Don Tasser, Belle Vernon
1. Grady Paxton, Chartiers-Houston
2. Jacob Weslager, Belle Vernon
3. Chris Stay, Beth-Center
1. Zac Klinvex, SS Academy
2. Michael Coleman, Apollo-Ridge
3. Tucker Conklin, West Greene
1. Alex Evans, Washington
2. Aaron Hrutkay, Beth-Center
3. Phil Sorrento, S. Allegheny
1. Kurt Brendle, SS Academy
2. Nick Glesk, Highlands
3. Sal Ruggeri, SS Beaver
1. Damon Majocha, Burrell
2. Charlie Wonsettler, Bentworth
3. Ryan Watson, Burgettstown
1. Stefan Firmstone, Mt. Pleasant
2. Ethan Virgili, Jeff-Morgan
3. Joe Tarley, Beth-Center
1. Luke Miller, Chartiers-Houston
2. Codie Noga, Avella
3. Jimmy Martz, SS Beaver
1. Paul Snyder, Mt. Pleasant
2. Matt Kosarik, Fort Cherry
3. Alex Humphreys, S. Allegheny

Look who's back

The following is a list of the top local wrestlers returning from last season, weight class and record.

Class AAA

Ron Schram, 103, 27-13
Colin Johnston, 112, 48-1
Chris Pihou, 119, 27-16
Mike Eberly, 140, 24-12
Matt Ryan, 152, 46-5
Jurdon Maier, 160, 28-17

Tyler Mayer, 103, 23-10
Matt Scherich, 119, 30-8
Josh Daniels, 125, 29-8
Ben Dunaway, 171, 23-7

Nate Blackman, 103, 32-11

Grant Lowther, 125, 42-6
Jared Roberts, 135, 28-11
Todd Martinek, 140, 25-15
Nick Standish, 145, 22-15
Eric Williams, 160, 31-10

Brian Knapp, 112, 30-12
Nick Garber, 125, 31-11
Dustin Henderson, 130, 35-12
Scott Throckmorton, 140, 28-16
Ethan Headlee, 145, 38-11
Clint Podish, 171, 38-11
Troy Cree, 189, 31-13
Keith Higginbotham, 215, 27-13

Class AA

Mitch Spencer, 112, 31-10
Kyle Appleby, 135, 22-16
Dan Berdine, 140, 25-13
Codie Noga, 215, 32-6

Charlie Wonsettler, 171, 14-8

Chris Stay, 140, 39-10
Aaron Hrutkay, 152, 34-19
Joe Tarley, 189, 32-14
B.J. Hundertmark, 215, 25-6

Bryan Vallina, 125, 26-11
James Curtician, 130, 25-15
Ryan Watson, 171, 37-9
Dan Conley, 189, 21-10

Vinne DeStefano, 135, 24-24
Dave Grillo, 171, 37-6

Chad Cushey, 125, 22-12
Grady Paxton, 140, 20-11
Luke Miller, 215, 36-9

Fort Cherry
Adam Hoffman, 135, 26-9
Mike Pleskovich, 152, 26-10
Matt Kosarik, Hvy, 37-5

Ty Basinger, 119, 29-14
Craig Johnson, 130, 20-18
Ethan Virgili, 189, 35-13

Alex Evans, 152, 31-7
Shayne Barnes, 215, 32-19

West Greene
Dakota Riffle, 103, 24-14
Garrett Johnston, 112, 30-16
Cory Tharp, 130, 20-17
Kory Bissett, 135, 47-4
Tucker Conklin, 145, 34-12
Patrick Morris, 171, 26-14

Preseason rankings

Class AAA

1. Hempfield
2. Canon-McMillan
3. Connellsville
4. Kiski
5. Latrobe
6. Penn-Trafford
7. Trinity
8. Waynesburg
9. North Allegheny
10. Albert Gallatin

Class AA
1. Mt. Pleasant
2. Burrell
3. West Greene
4. SS Academy
5. SS Beaver