South Xtra: Big Macs savoring their PIAA team title
PIAA WRESTLING NOTEBOOK
March 17, 2011 4:00 AM
Bradley C. Bower/Special to the Post-Gazette
Canon-McMillan's Nick Catalano, left, wrestles Central Mountain's Brian Brill in the 145-pound Class AAA match at the PIAA championships.
By Ken Wunderley Tri-State Sports & News Service
HERSHEY, Pa. -- The Canon-McMillan High School wrestling team didn't have an individual champion at the PIAA Wrestling Championships over the weekend at Hershey's Giant Center, but the Big Macs did come home with a championship trophy.
Canon-McMillan claimed its first PIAA team title since 1992 with an impressive performance by all six Big Macs entries.
"It was a total team effort," Canon-McMillan coach Chris Mary said. "To come in here with six kids and leave with six pieces of hardware [medals] is incredible."
All six Canon-McMillan wrestlers earned place-winner status by finishing among the top eight in their weight classes. The Big Macs accumulated 92 points in the three-day competition, while Pittsburgh Central Catholic finished second with 79.
"I'm very proud of the kids," Mary said. "We had two finalists, three thirds and a seventh. Everybody stepped up this weekend."
Connor Schram and Nick Catalano advanced to the finals for Canon-McMillan, but both had to settle for silver medals.
Schram, last year's PIAA 103-pound champion, made his second appearance in the finals, but dropped a 10-4 decision to New Oxford's Jordan Conaway at 112 pounds.
Catalano was defeated, 6-2, in the 145-pound final by Central Mountain's Brian Brill.
"Both of their opponents in the finals were outstanding," Mary said. "Connor wrestled Conaway in the quarterfinals last year and beat him by one point. Connor got zapped with an early takedown by Conaway and never recovered. We knew it would be a brawl for Nick against Brill and that's just what happened."
Colt Shorts, Solomon Chishko and Cody Klempay claimed bronze medals at 112, 130 and 285. All three lost in the semifinals with Shorts and Chishko falling to the eventual champion. Dario Dobbin placed seventh at 135 after losing in the first round.
"[Winning the team title] was great for our program," Mary said. "I'm happy for my coaching staff and for the boys. They will have a special bond being on a state championship team that will be there forever."
Don't be surprised to see the Big Macs in the same position next year, as five of the six place-winners are underclassmen. Catalano is the only senior.
"We're young," Mary said. "We want to come up here and win a couple more. This is a brutal tournament. You've got to have a hot hand, the right draw and you've got to have some luck. Everything fell into place for us this weekend."
Carrying the City standard
Godwin Nyama still has another year at Brashear High School, but he's already earned the title of "best wrestler in City League history."
Nyama became the first City League wrestler to win a regional title, then went to Hershey and became the first City place-winner. He finished seventh in the 112-pound weight class after posting a 3-2 record.
"A lot of people were questioning his pedigree," Brashear coach Nate Geller said. "He made it to Hershey and came home with some hardware. I'm excited for Godwin and for our program."
Nyama's two losses were to the eventual third- and fifth-place finishers.
"It was a great experience," Nyama said. "I'm happy I'm here and I'm happy I placed. My goal next year is to repeat as City League and region champion, then win the state title."
Char-Houston senior finishes in style
Michael Innes capped his career at Chartiers-Houston with a PIAA medal. Innes finished fourth in the Class AA 145-pound weight class.
"I'm as happy as can be," Innes said. "This is all I've been looking forward to. Every year, I had come up short. This was my last shot and I finally did it."
Innes dropped a 3-2 decision in the quarterfinals to Muncy's Troy Hembury, the eventual fifth-place finisher. He also dropped a 5-4 decision to Juniata's Zach Beitz in the consolation for third place.
"It's a little sad to know that my high school career is over, but I'm happy with my future plans," Innes said. "I'm going to West Point and will wrestle for West Point Prep [next year]. I'm really excited about that."