Montour senior Cole Macek could have taken an easier road at the Class AAA WPIAL/Southwest Regional over the weekend at Canon-McMillan High School, but he wanted to challenge himself.
Macek spent the first half of the season competing at 220 pounds, but decided to drop to the 195-pound weight class midway through the season.
Many questioned Macek's decision, because 195 was considered a much stronger weight class. Macek competed at 220 last season and would have been a strong favorite to win at that weight.
"It's my senior year and I wanted to challenge myself," said Macek, who made the cut to 195 with relative ease. "I felt I could win either weight class and wanted to be at the weight where I felt most comfortable."
Macek (32-0), who will attend West Point next school year, looked very comfortable at the WPIAL/Southwest Regional. He recorded a pin and two major decisions to earn a berth in the title match, which featured two unbeaten wrestlers.
The title match against Norwin's Drew Phipps (23-1) went to overtime and Macek scored the winning takedown with 18 seconds remaining.
"It's all I ever dreamed of," said Macek, who became the second wrestler in Montour history to win a WPIAL title. "I pursued and accomplished my goal of winning a WPIAL title.
"I have one more goal to reach. I need four more wins to claim a PIAA title."
Macek will be making his third consecutive trip to Hershey. He placed third in the WPIAL/Southwest Regional the past two years, then posted a 1-2 record in both PIAA appearances.
Colts' Wilps a WPIAL runner-up
Chartiers Valley senior Noah Wilps reached one goal by earning his second trip to the PIAA Class AAA tournament, but fell short of reaching his goal of becoming a WPIAL champion.
Wilps (30-2) made his second consecutive appearance in the 170-pound title match at the Class AAA WPIAL/Southwest Regional, but had to settle for a second silver medal after a 3-2 loss to Central Catholic's Kyle Coniker (27-3).
"Noah wrestled flat," Chartiers Valley coach Bill Evans said. "He wrestled not to lose, instead of wrestling to win."
Evans was also disappointed with the performance turned in by Coniker.
"I talked with Central Catholic coach Sonny Abe after the bout and we agreed that both were better than their performances in the finals," Evans said. "In fact, it was the worst I had seen both wrestle all year."
Evans said Wilps can improve on last year's sixth-place finish at Hershey if he's more aggressive.
"Noah waited a little too long to be aggressive," Evans said. "He's got to be more aggressive at the state tournament."
Evans was hoping to have Micheal Roper joining Wilps at Hershey.
"I really thought [Roper] would qualify in the 220-pound weight class," Evans said. "Both of his losses came in the final 10 seconds. He's got to learn how to win those close matches."
Three from South Fayette advance
South Fayette had three wrestlers qualify for the PIAA Class AA tournament at the Southwest Regional, which took place at the War Memorial Arena in Johnstown.
Mike Carr and Jared Walker won regional titles, while Grant Fetchet placed third.
Carr (40-0) claimed the 132-pound title and remained unbeaten with a 5-0 victory against Burrell's John Andrejcik (29-15) in the title match.
Walker (40-1) earned his third trip to Hershey by winning the 160-pound title. Walker made his second appearance in the regional finals and claimed his first title with a 2-0 victory against Levi Niebauer of Cambria Heights.
"Both [Carr and Walker] did not give up a point in the tournament," South Fayette coach Rick Chaussard said. "You can't lose if you don't give up any points. Both did a great job. Both are threats to win PIAA titles."
Fetchet (40-4) earned his first PIAA berth by placing third at 152. His only loss, a 3-1 decision, was to the eventual runner-up Blairsville's Andrew Doak.
"A takedown was the difference and unfortunately Doak got it," Chaussard said. "[Fetchet] has to find a way to win those [close] matches."
Three others earn trip to Hershey
Avella Area, Burgettstown Area and Ellwood City each had one wrestler advance to the PIAA Class AA tournament at the Southwest Regional.
* Avella's Jake Temple (39-0) earned a third consecutive trip to Hershey by winning his second consecutive regional title at 220 pounds. He posted a 3-2 triple-overtime victory against Reynold Maines of West Branch in the title match.
* Burgettstown's Austin McDermitt (38-3) earned his third trip to Hershey for the PIAA tournament by placing second in the regional tourney at 113 pounds. McDermitt lost, 5-1, to Southmoreland's Austin Griffiths, the wrestler he defeated in the WPIAL finals.
* Ellwood City's Brad Grinnen (33-5) earned his first PIAA berth by placing fourth at 195 pounds.