There is no higher praise for a high school senior than an invitation to compete in the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic. Fortunately for the WPIAL, it had four wrestlers experience the honor this year competing on Team Pennsylvania Sunday at Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House.
For Canon-McMillan's Dalton Macri, Latrobe's Zack Zavatsky and Kittanning's Jason Nolf, just competing wasn't good enough.
In Pennsylvania's 25-16 loss to the United States all-stars, Macri stole the show, and the support of the 4,000-plus in attendance with his 9-0 major decision against three-time state champion from Woodford County, Ky., Nathan Boston at 120 pounds. His performance earned him Team Pennsylvania's most outstanding wrestler award.
"This event is about getting the crowd into it and they are all here for Pa., so I wanted to get them hyped up," Macri said. "I feed off of that. When the crowd goes crazy, it really drives me.
"I lost to [Boston] before and I know he is tough on top. I usually don't wrestle on top, but I feel like it is the best way to show people that I can accomplish anything."
Macri (133-15) -- who won his first PIAA title this year and is a Cornell recruit -- continuously pumped up the crowd in between rounds and was applauded by a standing ovation after his win.
"It is such an honor to even be in the same pages of a book as some of the other kids on both rosters," Macri said. "I had a hard time believing myself the past couple of years, but it is such an honor that someone believes you are good enough to compete in this Classic."
Three bouts before Macri, Zavatsky took down two-time Oklahoma state champion Joel Dixon of Edmond North.
Zavatsky (166-18) -- who also won his first PIAA title this year -- and Dixon (126-13) were tied at one after three periods with each wrestler recording an escape point.
Less than a minute into sudden-death overtime, Zavatsky earned a two-point takedown and the 3-1 win.
"I don't really go into overtime too much," Zavatsky said. "I was calm the whole match and I knew something was going to happen. It was just a lot of hand-fighting. I needed to open him up and I kind of wore down on him. I was just waiting for that opening. This is the most exciting match all year because he is the highest-ranked kid I wrestled."
Also picking up a win for Pennsylvania was Nolf (176-1) in the final bout. With the match already in the hands of the U.S., he showed why he has lost just once in his four-year career, defeating four-time state champion Tyler Berger (198-3) from Crook County, Ore., 8-3, at 145.
Macri was joined on Team Pennsylvania by his Big Macs teammate and fellow PIAA champion Solomon Chishko.
Chishko (132-8) lost a 3-1 decision to Joe McKenna of Blair Academy (N.J.) in the 138-pound bout. McKenna is a three-time state champion. Chishko is a two-time PIAA champion and will attend Virginia Tech with Zavatsky.
The other two wrestlers picking up wins for Pennsylvania were Parkland's Ethan Lizak (164-18) at 113 pounds and Central Dauphin's Garrett Peppelman (185-15) at 160.
Stevan Micic (182-5) of Indiana was named the outstanding wrestler for Team USA.