West Allegheny, Hopewell and Montour shared a sub-section title during the regular season but all three enter Saturday's Class AAA Section 4 tournament at Moon Area shorthanded.
West Allegeny will be without junior Kyle Scott (9-6 at 145) and senior Cameron Williams (7-16 at 132).
"Both are injured," West Allegheny coach Mike Johnson said. "We also had a couple kids walk away from the sport after losing interest. It's been a tough year, but we're looking forward to the section tournament."
West Allegheny has wrestlers entered in 11 weight classes. The Indians top entries are Mason Schaefer (26-6 at 106), Ryan Cunningham (18-9 at 120) and Nathan Hall (28-2 at 152).
"Nathan was a runner-up last year [at 145 pounds]," Johnson said. "He's physically ready to take the next step and become a PIAA qualifier. He just needs to be mentally ready."
Hopewell will be without senior Nick Guzma (26-7 at 160), who decided not to wrestle in the section tournament.
"Last year, Nick decided not to wrestle in the postseason," Hopewell coach Jason Martsolf said. "This year, he didn't show up for our wrestle-offs. It's really disappointing, because he could have easily been a section finalist."
Kyle Davis (9-14 at 132) and Clark Cicone (7-9 at 145) are also out of Hopewell's line-up. Both lost in wrestle-offs.
Hopewell's top entries are Travis Sonson (27-2 at 126), DeMantae Bronaugh (24-8 at 170) and Stephon Peake (20-3 at 285).
"Stephon has surprised the heck out of us this year," Martsolf said. "He weighs only 200 pounds, but likes to wrestle the bigger kids."
Montour has one minor change to its lineup. Cory Rosenwald (4-9 at 160) is out with a cauliflower ear.
"We have 13 entries this year," Montour coach Jason Bombardier said. "We only had three kids qualify for the WPIAL tournament last year. We're hoping to get at least five, maybe as many as seven this year."
Montour's top entries are Sal Desimone (25-6 at 113), Jake Bombardier (21-14 at 152), Cole Macek (26-0 at 195) and Zack Jablonski (27-6 at 285).
"Cole accepted an appointment to West Point to play football last week," Bombardier said. "He could have taken a scholarship from Seton Hill to wrestle, but he couldn't pass up the opportunity to attend West Point."
Macek has moved down to 195 after placing second in the section and third in the WPIAL last year at 220.
Dealing with Big Macs
The Class AAA Section 4 tournament has only four returning champions, and three are from Canon-McMillan. Solomon Chishko (16-3 at 145) is a three-time champ who has won previous titles at 130, 138 and 145 pounds. He missed a month of the season with an injury.
"Solomon missed some time, but he's back to 100 percent," Canon-McMillan coach Jason Cardillo said. "He's looking great and wrestling with confidence."
Big Mac teammates Dalton Macri (30-2 at 126) and Brendan Price (31-5 at 113) are also returning section champs. Macri is a two-time champ who previously won at 113 and 120. Price won at 106.
"Dalton is in the strongest weight class in the WPIAL," said Cardillo, referring to the fact that Macri is one of four returning PIAA place-winners entered at 126.
"I don't know if there's ever been four returning PIAA place-winners in the same weight class. Dalton will face one of them this weekend."
Waynesburg Central's A.C. Headlee (29-3), a two-time Section 4 champ, is also entered at 126. Headlee placed sixth in the PIAA at 113 last year. The other two returning PIAA placewinners competing at 126 are Hempfield Area's Sam Krivus (32-2) and North Allegheny's Dom Forys (36-3).
Chishko and Macek are two of three wrestlers competing in Section 4 who are ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL in Class AAA by the Post-Gazette. The other is Chartiers Valley's Noah Wilps (25-1 at 170).
Wilps placed second in the Section 4 and WPIAL tournaments last season en route to a sixth-place finish at Hershey. His losses in the section and WPIAL were to Canon-McMillan's Cody Wiercioch, a three-time PIAA champion.
"Noah was in Cody's shadow last year," Chartiers Valley coach Bill Evans said. "This year, Noah has a chance to step into the spotlight and win the section and WPIAL titles that eluded him last year."
Other wrestlers to watch for Chartiers Valley are Mark Tharp (24-7 at 120), Jacob Paris (20-9 at 182) and Michael Roper (24-5 at 220).