When Montour senior Cole Macek decided to move down to the 195-pound weight class at the start of January, some felt it was a huge mistake because 220 -- the division in which he had been competing -- was deemed a much weaker weight class.
Macek proved those doubters wrong over the weekend by capturing the 195-pound title at the Allegheny County Championships, which took place at Fox Chapel Area High School.
"I have a little trouble wrestling kids who are stronger than me," Macek said. "With that in mind, I decided that moving down to 195 was my best option. My ultimate goal is to win a PIAA title and being at 195 gives me a better chance to reach that goal."
Macek dominated the 30-man bracket with two pins, a technical fall and a major decision. He opened the weekend with two pins that took a combined 40 seconds. In the quarterfinals, he registered a 20-5 technical fall against Pine-Richland's Keegan Harris. Macek was just as impressive in his semifinal match against Mt. Lebanon's Bakhtiyar Zaynullaev, as he posted a 12-1 major-decision victory.
The semifinal win guaranteed that Macek would become a four-time county place-winner. It also put him in the finals for the second year in a row, but he wasn't going to settle for a silver medal.
"Cutting to 197 [including the 2-pound weight allowance] wasn't easy, since I eat what I want during football season to keep my weight up," Macek said. "I weighed in at 225 during football season. I've dropped 30 pounds since the end of the season."
Macek turned in his most impressive performance of the weekend in the title match. He dominated North Allegheny's Zach Smith with an 11-4 victory to become Montour's first county champion.
"I worked very hard to improve my cardio," Macek said. "I feel so much better. In past years, I would struggle when I got to the third period. This year, I feel so much better in the third period."
Macek is a four-year starter who has made two trips to Hershey for the PIAA Class AAA tournament after two third-place performances at the WPIAL tournament. He competed at 195 as a sophomore, then moved up to 220 last year, but fell short of placing both years.
"Seeing how well I am doing at 195 makes me wonder if I made a mistake by competing at 220 last year," Macek said. "If I had it to do all over again, I probably would have dropped to 195."
With Macek moving down to 195, his younger brother, Roman, stepped in at 220 and placed fifth in the tournament. Also placing for Montour was Zack Jablonski, who placed third at 285.
Strong showing for Lions
South Fayette showed no ill effects of its late start by placing third in the team standings. Most of the team started the season a month late due to South Fayette's WPIAL and PIAA football titles.
"This is the first time we finished in the top three," South Fayette coach Rick Chaussard said. "Our previous best finish was last year when we were fourth. We had eight kids place [among the top eight in their weight classes] and all but one of our entries scored points for us. I'm very pleased with our performance."
South Fayette had two wrestlers advance to the finals and one claimed a title. Michael Carr captured the 132-pound weight class title with a 6-2 win against North Allegheny's Jake Hinkson in the final.
"It feels great to be standing on top of the winners platform," Carr said. "I put in a lot of hard work over the summer and it's paying off."
Carr was one of the few South Fayette wrestlers who was not a member of the football team.
"The late start didn't affect me," Carr said. "I've been working out a lot with my brothers and with Jim Akerly at Quest [School of Wrestling].
South Fayette's other finalist was Grant Fetchet, who dropped a 4-0 decision to South Park's Greg Bulsak in the 152-pound final. Jared Walker placed third at 160 after losing by one point in the semifinals.