Varsity Xtra: Curtain call -- Classic will give Canon-Mac duo stage for encore


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Two of the most successful wrestlers in Canon-McMillan history concluded their high school careers by winning PIAA titles in Hershey last Saturday, but area wrestling fans will have one more chance to see Connor Schram and Cody Wiercioch perform.

The Big Macs duo returns for an encore at the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic at 6 p.m. Sunday at the University of Pittsburgh's Fitzgerald Field House.

Schram and Wiercioch, three-time WPIAL champs and four-time PIAA finalists, head the 13-man Pennsylvania all-star team that will face the United States All-Stars.

"I've been going to the Classic ever since I was a little kid," said Schram, a two-time PIAA Class AAA champion and four-time state finalist. "I've watched every great wrestler go through there. It's truly an honor to be a part of it."

Schram (159-11), who has accepted a scholarship to Stanford University, will wrestle in the 126-pound match against Joey Dance, a four-time Virginia champion from Christiansburg High School (186-14), who is ranked No. 1 in the country at 126 pounds by Amateur Wrestling News.

"I'm pumped," Schram said. "I get to wrestle the No. 1 kid in the country. I'm going to let it rip and see what happens. It will be a lot of fun. And it's even better to have a teammate on the [Pennsylvania] team with me."

Dance also is thrilled about the matchup.

"I was so excited to find out I had been chosen," Dance said. "I've read about the Classic in the past, so I am familiar with it. It's an honor to be chosen. With friends and family coming up from Virginia, I should have a cheering section of a dozen or so."

Wiercioch (167-5), a three-time PIAA champ and Pitt recruit, is matched up with Wyoming recruit Zachary Beard (163-9), a four-time Oklahoma champion from Tuttle High School, in the 170-pound bout.

"It's a great way to end my high school career," Wiercioch said. "I attended the last three Classics and wanted to go out this way. I'm really looking forward to it."

Wiercioch and Schram are joined on the Pennsylvania squad by Hampton's Jake Hart, a two-time PIAA finalist who captured the Class AAA title at 195 pounds.

"It's a huge honor to be chosen to represent Pennsylvania in the Classic," Hart said. "I've attended the last five years and thought about what it would be like to wrestle in the feature match. Now, I will get that chance."

Hart (143-20), an Edinboro recruit, will wrestle Iowa recruit Broc Berge (177-9), a two-time Minnesota state champ from Kasson-Mantorville High School.

Dance is one of eight members of the U.S. all-stars who have won four state titles. The Pennsylvania squad has one four-time state champ, Camp Hill Trinity's Ryan Diehl (174-5).

Diehl, a Maryland recruit, won two West Virginia titles, then moved to Camp Hill and claimed two PIAA Class AA titles. His title this season came at 126 pounds, but Diehl will compete at 132 in the Classic. His opponent is Oklahoma State recruit Dean Heil (126-7), a four-time Ohio champion from St. Edward High School in suburban Cleveland.

Heil is joined on the U.S. team by St. Edward teammate Domenic Abounader, a three-time Ohio state champ, at 182 pounds. Abounader (135-8), one of two Michigan recruits on the U.S. team, will wrestle Eric Morris (171-15), a two-time National Prep School champion from Wyoming Seminary High School.

Benjamin Whitford (165-1) is the other Michigan recruit. Whitford, a four-time Michigan champ, will face Pitt recruit Michael Racciato (186-8), a three-time PIAA Class AA champ from Pen Argyl.

"I've never been to the Classic before, but I've followed it on the Internet," Racciato said. "It's a great honor to be chosen, especially since I'm going to Pitt next year. It will be great to wrestle in the field house."

Racciato and Wiercioch are two of three Pitt recruits on the Pennsylvania squad. The other is Milton's Ryan Solomon (142-14), a two-time PIAA Class AA champion. Solomon will face Frank Mattiace, a two-time National Prep School champion from Blair Academy in New Jersey. Solomon and Mattiace competed at 195 during the season, but agreed to compete in the 220-pound class due to a glut of talent at 195.

Mattiace is joined on the U.S. team by Blair Academy teammate Brooks Black, a three-time National Prep School champion at 285. Black (145-8) will face Nazareth's Aaron Bradley (113-19), a two-time PIAA Class AAA finalist and one-time champ.

"I'm looking forward to wrestling in the Classic," Black said. "It's a good way to end my high school career. It's awesome that Frank was picked, too. It's appropriate considering we work out together all the time."

The other five members of the Pennsylvania team are Norristown's Zach Fuentes, Bethlehem Catholic's Darian Cruz, Benton's Zain Retherford, Reynolds' Austin Matthews and Forest Hills' Cody Law.

Fuentes (181-36), a three-time PIAA Class AA place-winner and one-time runner-up, will wrestle at 113 against Paul Mascarenas (175-3), a four-time New Mexico state champ from Cleveland High School.

Cruz (153-8), a two-time PIAA Class AA champion and Lehigh recruit, is matched against Ohio State recruit Nathan Tomasello (178-5), a four-time Ohio champ from Cuyahoga Valley Christian.

"I've watched some of the matches on the Internet," Tomasello said. "I know two kids from Ohio who wrestled in the Classic, Hunter Steiber and George DiCamillo. Both said it was a pretty cool experience and that we get a bunch of free gear."

Retherford (130-3), a two-time PIAA Class AA champ and Penn State recruit, will face Rutgers recruit Anthony Ashault (170-0), a four-time New Jersey champ from South Plainfield High School, in the 138-pound bout.

"One of my goals coming into my senior year was to be picked for the Classic," Retherford said. "I've never been to the Classic before, but I've heard a lot about it. I'm really looking forward to it."

Matthews (184-17), a PIAA Class AA champ and Clarion University recruit, will face Minnesota recruit Jake Short (237-20), a four-time Minnesota champ from Simley High School, at 152 pounds.

Law (112-26), a PIAA Class AA champ and Penn State recruit, will face Illinois recruit Isiah Martinez (207-7), a three-time California champion from LeMoore High School, at 160 pounds.

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