South Xtra: McGuffey, EF to drop to Class AA

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The WPIAL Wrestling Steering Committee will have to make several changes when it meets in February to determine the section alignment for the next two seasons.

Four schools, and possibly a fifth, will be dropping in classification to AA, including McGuffey, a school that has been "wrestling up" in Class AAA for more than 20 years.

"When I started coaching [in 1983] we had a Triple-A enrollment," said McGuffey coach Mark Caffrey, now in his third stint with the Highlanders. "A few years later our enrollment dropped below the cutoff, but we stayed in Class AAA. In the years since, our enrollment has dropped significantly."

The PIAA recently revealed enrollment numbers for the next school year. Schools with a current enrollment of 337 or more students in grades 9, 10 and 11 are designated Class AAA. Schools with 336 or fewer will compete in Class AA, unless they decide to wrestle up.

Indiana (330), Central Valley (309), Elizabeth Forward (309) and McGuffey (275) will be moving to Class AA. Blackhawk (304) is also below the cutoff, but a co-operative agreement with New Brighton will most likely keep the Cougars in Class AAA.

"It's just common sense," Caffrey said. "If we have the enrollment numbers to compete in Class AA, then why not try it. The good thing is that we are only tied in for two years. We can re-evaluate after the two years and decide what is best for the program."

McGuffey has struggled in Class AAA over the past five years. The Highlanders ended a four-year playoff drought last year.

"The key for us is to continue to wrestle a strong non-section schedule," Caffrey said. "That's one main reason why Burrell has been so successful. My hope is to continue wrestling Class AAA teams such as Waynesburg, Trinity and Canon-McMillan."

Elizabeth Forward will make its debut in Class AA.

"A move to Class AA might be the perfect situation for us, considering we're going to have a pretty young team next year," Elizabeth Forward coach Rich Scheuermann said. "I'm hoping it will give us a chance to get our numbers up. We should be very competitive in Class AA."

A delayed start for Lions

The success of South Fayette's football team has kept the wrestling team from beginning its wrestling schedule. The Lions did appear in the Chartiers-Houston tournament the opening week of the season, but they entered only seven wrestlers, because most team members were playing football.

"I considered pulling out of the Chartiers-Houston tournament and finding another tournament later in the season, but I knew we would be rescheduling some dual meets and probably wouldn't have been able to find anything that would fit in our schedule," South Fayette coach Rick Chaussard said.

South Fayette's football season ended Dec. 14 with the Lions winning WPIAL and PIAA titles. That forced Chaussard to reschedule two section matches.

"Our first full squad practice was [Dec. 17]," Chaussard said. "Fortunately, I didn't have us scheduled for a Christmas tournament. That gives us a couple weeks to get ready for a busy month of January."

South Fayette has six dual meets and four tournaments scheduled in January. Two are dual-meet tournaments, which means the Lions will wrestle five opponents in each.

"We're in a tournament all four weekends in January," Chaussard said.

Busy holiday schedule

Twenty South Xtra teams will compete in holiday tournaments which begin today.

* Belle Vernon, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Chartiers-Houston, Chartiers Valley, Mt. Lebanon and Peters Township are entered in the 46-team Powerade Christmas Tournament, which will take place at Canon-McMillan High School.

* Carrick, Elizabeth Forward, Keystone Oaks, McKeesport, South Allegheny, South Park, Thomas Jefferson, Upper St. Clair, Washington and West Mifflin will compete in the Steve DeAugustino Holiday Classic at West Mifflin Area High School.

* Baldwin and Bentworth are entered in the 33-team South-moreland Holiday Classic.

* Ringgold is entered in the Wheeling Park Duals.

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