Will there be a changing of the guard when the WPIAL holds its wrestling team tournaments this week?
Two WPIAL records will be on the line as Canon-McMillan and Burrell enter the week-long tournaments as multiple defending champions.
Burrell owns the WPIAL record with seven consecutive titles. The Buccaneers (9-3), who have won eight titles in 10 years, are seeded first in the 15-team Class AA bracket.
South Fayette, last year's runner-up, is seeded No. 2. The Lions (17-0) are the only remaining unbeaten team in Class AA in the WPIAL. No. 3 Jefferson-Morgan (12-2) and No. 4 Burgettstown (12-1) round out the top four seeds.
Canon-McMillan owns the WPIAL Class AAA record of four consecutive titles. The Big Macs (14-0), despite significant graduation losses, are unbeaten and seeded No. 3 in the 20-team Class AAA bracket.
Franklin Regional (15-1) is the top seed and heavy favorite in Class AAA. Latrobe (9-1), a runner-up behind Franklin Regional in Section 1, is the No. 2 seed. No. 4 North Allegheny (10-0) is the only other Class AAA team without a loss.
Team tournaments begin
The Class AAA tournament begins today with four preliminary round matches at Chartiers Valley. The four winners move on to the first round. The Class AA tournament has no preliminary matches.
The first round and quarterfinals in each class will be wrestled Wednesday with the top four seeds in each tournament serving as host. Franklin Regional, Latrobe, Canon-McMillan and North Allegheny are hosting in Class AAA. Burrell, South Fayette, Jefferson-Morgan and Burgettstown are the four host sites in Class AA.
The semifinals in both classes will be held Friday at Norwin High School. The championship match and consolation final in each class will be held Saturday at Chartiers Valley.
Leopards are ready
Belle Vernon is a team to watch in Class AAA. The No. 6 Leopards (12-2) have achieved two firsts in school history: a section title and a win against Connellsville.
"It's a great accomplishment for the kids to win the first section title in school history," Belle Vernon coach Tyler Nauman said. "And now we're seeded for the first time. I like where they have us in the bracket."
Belle Vernon is in the strongest quarter of the bracket, which is being hosted by Canon-McMillan. The Leopards face No. 11 seed Hempfield (8-4) in the first round, with the winner most likely facing Canon-McMillan in the quarterfinals. The Big Macs will face a preliminary round winner in their first-round match.
The WPIAL team wrestling tournament marks its 36th anniversary.
Connellsville has the distinction of being the only team that has qualified for the WPIAL team tournament every year. The Falcons have made 35 consecutive appearances in the Class AAA tournament, claimed seven titles, finished second six times, and have a 73-29 record in WPIAL postseason play.
North Allegheny ranks second with 32 appearances in the Class AAA tournament, including 28 in a row. The Tigers have won five WPIAL titles and have a 40-27 postseason record, but haven't won a title since 1990.
Canon-McMillan is close behind with 31 appearances, including 16 in a row, and nine WPIAL titles. The Big Macs have a 74-23 record in postseason play.
Other Class AAA teams that have made 20 or more WPIAL tournament appearances are Latrobe (25 appearances, 23-23 record), Kiski Area (24, 40-23), Trinity (23, 34-21) and Shaler (20, 12-20). Kiski Area has made 24 consecutive appearances.
In Class AA, Jefferson-Morgan (22, 27-18) and West Greene (22, 21-21) share the lead for the most postseason appearances. The Rockets have won five WPIAL titles, but none since 1995. The Pioneers won their only WPIAL title in 1994.
Burrell has made 21 Class AA appearances and claimed a total of nine titles. The Buccaneers have a 39-12 record in postseason play.
Thomas Subaru update
Six WPIAL wrestlers won titles at the 28-team Thomas Subaru Tournament held over the weekend at Bedford High School. Burrell and South Fayette each had two champs and both teams finished among the top four in the team standings.
Mike Carr and Jared Walker made a second consecutive appearance in the finals for South Fayette and claimed their first title. Carr claimed the 132-pound title with a 6-2 win against Bedford's Ryan Easter. Walker won, 4-2, in overtime in the 160-pound final against Bryce Fochtman of Berlin-Brothersvalley. The Lions finished fourth in the team standings with 146.5 points.
Burrell finished third with 155.55 points. Steve Edwards and Alan Beattie won titles for the Buccaneers. Edwards won at 152 pounds with a 6-3 win against Taylor Cahill of Berlin-Brothersvalley. Beattie won, 2-1, in double overtime against Mount Union's Nik Smith at 285 pounds.
Jefferson-Morgan finished ninth in the team standings and had the other two champs: John Demaske (126 pounds) and Bill Bowlen (170).
Seneca Valley fourth
Seneca Valley placed fourth at the Fred Bell Memorial Tournament held over the weekend at Grove City High School. Alex Lynch and Nick Zoria won titles for the Raiders.
Lynch claimed the 106-pound title with a 3-0 win against Jamestown's Hunter Goodlin in the finals. Zoria recorded a 7-4 victory against Redbank Valley's Tanner Altobelli in the 126-pound final.