As Franklin Regional’s Tyler Smith collected the Panthers’ fifth gold medal at the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament Dec. 27-28 at Canon-McMillan High School, a history question came to mind.
How many teams have had five or more champions in the 46-year history of the tournament, now recognized as the most competitive regular-season tournament in Pennsylvania and third strongest in the country?
Franklin Regional is the 10th team to have five or more champions at the annual event, which started out as the California University Christmas Tournament. But most of those performances came during the early years of the tournament, before its expansion to teams outside the WPIAL.
In the first 17 years of the tournament, only four wrestlers outside the WPIAL won individual titles. Seven WPIAL teams captured five or more titles during that stretch, with Washington owning the record with seven champions in 1975.
In 1984, tournament director Frank Vulcano Jr. decided to expand the tournament by inviting teams from across the country. In the past 29 years of the tournament, only three teams have had five or more champions, and two are WPIAL teams. North Allegheny had five champions in 1987 and Franklin Regional matched that total a week ago. The other team with five or more champions was Mt. Carmel, Ill., with six in 1992.
Franklin, Latrobe meet
Franklin Regional and Latrobe, the top two finishers at the Powerade tournament, will lock horns again this weekend at the 61st annual Westmoreland County Coaches Association Tournament, which begins Friday at Franklin Regional High School.
Included in the 18-team field are six two-time champions, three one-time champions and three others who have placed second twice.
Franklin Regional, the defending team champion, features a trio of two-time champions — Smith, Josh Maruca and Josh Shields — and a one-time champ in Michael Kemerer.
Latrobe has returning champions in Zack Zavatsky and Luke Pletcher. Zavatsky is a two-time champ.
Hempfield’s Ricky Cavello and Kiski Area’s Shane Kuhn are also vying for a third title. Hempfield’s Sam Krivus is the other returning champ.
Kiski Prep’s Justin Patrick, Latrobe’s Dom Scalise and Burrell’s Steven Edwards are two-time silver medalists.
Tri-County begins Friday
The Tri-County Tournament will held Friday and Saturday at Ringgold High School. The 17-team field includes four-time defending WPIAL Class AAA team tournament champion Canon-McMillan.
Three Big Mac wrestlers are returning champions, but Solomon Chishko is out with a knee injury. Brendan Price and Dalton Macri are also returning champions for Canon-McMillan.
Defending county champion Peters Township and Chartiers-Houston are not entered in this year’s tournament. Both schools received an invitation to the Virginia Duals, which are being held the same weekend.
Waynesburg’s A.C. Headlee, Charleroi’s Nick Gavazzi and Avella’s Jake Temple are also two-time champions.
West Allegheny wins again
West Allegheny captured a second consecutive title at the Midwestern Athletic Conference tournament, held over the weekend at Montour High School. The Indians had eight wrestlers advance to the finals and three claimed gold medals: Mason Schaefer (106), Kyle Scott (145) and Nate Hall (152). It was Hall’s second title.
Hopewell finished second in the team standings and matched West Allegheny with three champions: Travis Sonson (126), Nick Guzma (160) and Stephon Peake (285).
Montour’s Cole Macek (195) was named Outstanding Wrestler after claiming his fourth title.