South Xtra: Big Macs eager to shine at home

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The WPIAL has used Canon-McMillan and Norwin on a rotation basis for the site of the Class AAA WPIAL/Southwest Region Tournament for close to a decade.

The past two tournaments took place at Norwin, so Canon-McMillan will play host this weekend and next year.

"It's a huge advantage to be at home," Canon-McMillan coach Jason Cardillo said. "It's great to know that we don't have to make that long drive to Norwin. Our kids can be home in bed before most teams get back to their high school. It's also great for our fans."

Canon-McMillan fans had plenty to cheer about at Saturday's Section 4 tournament, which took place at Moon Area High School. The Big Macs had 12 of 14 entries qualify for the WPIAL tournament by placing among the top five in their weight classes in the section tournament.

"We had nine kids make it to the finals and six won titles," Cardillo said. "We also had two kids place third and one placed fourth. The goal now is to have as many as possible qualify for states."

Canon-McMillan will be hard pressed to match last year's total of seven PIAA qualifiers. The Big Macs top entries are Solomon Chishko (19-3 at 145), Dalton Macri (32-2 at 126) and Brendan Price (34-5 at 113).

Chishko has a chance to become the 24th wrestler in WPIAL history to win four titles. He's also a three-time PIAA place-winner and one-time champ. Macri is a two-time PIAA place-winner. Price is a one-time PIAA qualifier.

"Solomon missed part of the season with an injury, but he's healthy now and ready for another postseason run," Cardillo said.

Big plans for Wilps

Chartiers Valley coach Bill Evans is confident that Noah Wilps will make his second consecutive appearance in the WPIAL finals and earn a second trip to Hershey for the PIAA tournament. And he's hoping that Wilps will have company this year.

"It would be great if Noah had a few teammates join him at Hershey this year," Evans said. "We're really looking forward to the tournament and see how many qualifiers we can get."

Wilps (27-1) placed second in the WPIAL and sixth in the PIAA last season. He returns at 170 pounds as a strong favorite to win a WPIAL title.

"Noah has improved so much since last season," Evans said. "His only loss was to [three-time PIAA champion] Chance Marsteller [of Kennard-Dale] in the Powerade Christmas Tournament finals."

Wilps was one of three Colts wrestlers to win a section title on Saturday. The others were Jacob Paris (22-9 at 182) and Mike Roper (27-5 at 220).

"Jacob and Mike have benefitted significantly from working out with Noah every day in practice," Evans said. "Both have the talent and desire required to qualify. We'll find out this weekend if they are ready to take that step."

Section 2 results

Belle Vernon Area and Peters Township were the most successful teams at Saturday's Section 2 tournament, which took place at Baldwin High School.

Belle Vernon topped all teams with 10 qualifiers. The Leopards had four entries win titles, three place second and three finished third. Jarod Verkleeren (16-3 at 145), Derek Verkleeren (28-6 at 152), Austin Bell (34-5 at 160) and Pat Mayernick (19-5 at 220) won titles for the Leopards.

"All four are worthy of a top-four seed," Belle Vernon rookie coach Tyler Nauman said. "I'm expecting to have at least three qualifiers, hopefully as many as five. I'm looking forward to my first WPIAL Tournament."

* Peters Township had nine qualifiers, including three champions and one runner-up. Philip Mary (25-4 at 126), Tyler Buckiso (25-3 at 132) and Italo Merante (27-4 at 138) won titles for the Indians.

"Tyler qualified for the state tournament two years ago, but fell one win short of qualifying last year," Peters Township coach Jason Carpetta said. "It's an unbelievable feeling to watch a kid lose in a consolation match. It's such a crushing feeling to get that far and fall one win short."

* Mt. Lebanon had seven wrestlers earn WPIAL berths at the Section 2 tournament. The Blue Devils had three champions Kevin Kinyua (26-4 at 120), Kellan Stout (30-2 at 182) and Zeynul Zaynullayev (30-3 at 285).

Stout set a school record for career victories at the section tournament. Stout posted three victories to improve his career record to 94-16. Kurt Angle (91 wins) held the previous record.

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