2013 WPIAL Wrestling Fabulous 14

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 | 9:30 AM

Another great year is in the books for the 2012-2013 high school wrestling season. The WPIAL provided a lot of excitement throughout the year, but it was Canon-McMillan in Class AAA and Burrell in AA that continued to rewrite history. Canon-McMillan not only won its record fourth consecutive WPIAL Class AAA team championship, but the Big Macs also won their second straight PIAA dual meet team championship and third straight PIAA individual tournament team championship. Burrell, meanwhile, continued its dominance of Class AA, with a record seventh straight WPIAL dual meet team championship.

While Canon-McMillan and Burrell dominated the team headlines, the individual tournament showed how strong the WPIAL is overall in the state of Pennsylvania. In Class AAA, 31 of 42 AAA wrestlers earned All-State honors in Hershey, including winning gold medals in half of the 14 weight classes with an amazing seven state champions. The AA wrestlers also fared well, with 22 of 34 wrestlers bringing home hardware, including three state champions.

With the wrestling season now complete, we present the Fabulous14 top wrestlers in the WPIAL for the 2012-13 season.

Cody Wiercioch, Canon McMillan, Senior, 170 pounds (41-1, 164-5)

After an undefeated junior year, finishing 46-0, there wasn't much more Wierioch could do. He had won two WPIAL and PIAA titles and did it in impressive fashion. But his senior year was simply outstanding. Despite losing one match, Wiercioch did not give up a takedown his entire senior campaign while dominating his competition. He placed first at Ironman and Reno while placing second at Powerade in a match many will never forget. His loss came to Chance Marstellar of Kennard Dale, a junior who just won his third state title and has never lost a match in his high school career. There were a lot of flurries in the match but neither wrestler was able to net anything other than escapes thanks to some outstanding defense. Unfortunately for Wiercioch, he was on the wrong side of the coin flip, with Marstellar scoring first and beating Wiercioch, 3-2, in ultimate tiebreaker. Wiercioch would then use that loss to make sure it never happened again in his high school career, winning a Section 4 title and WPIAL gold before going to Hershey. There he would pick up his third straight PIAA championship with a 7-2 decision over Joe Gartland of Penncrest in the finals. Wiercioch will stay close to home as he continues his wrestling career, where he will attend the University of Pittsburgh.

Connor Schram, Canon McMillan, Senior, 126 pounds (44-3, 158-11)

One thing that has been a constant for Canon McMillan in their path to four WPIAL team Championships is the rock they had in the lineup with Connor Schram. After helping his team continue their dominance, Schram had one goal in mind, to finish his senior year the same way he did as a freshman. As a freshman, Schram returned to Canonsburg as a PIAA champion. But two years of unfortunate finishes, coming just short of PIAA gold by placing second, it was Schram who found his way back to the top of the podium. During the regular season Schram placed fifth at Ironman, second at Reno, and first at Powerade. In the postseason, he began his way to the top by winning a Section 4 title. Schram would then meet one of his toughest foes in back to back weeks in Michael Kemerer of Franklin Regional. Schram defeated Kemerer at the WPIAL Championships, 3-2, to win his third WPIAL gold. Then in Hershey, Scram would once again knock off Kemerer, this time by a 5-3 decision, to win his second PIAA Championship. Connor Schram will continue his wrestling career next season as he goes across the country, where he will attend Stanford University.

Solomon Chishko, Canon McMillan, Junior, 145 pounds (11-0, 101-7)

After two great years as a Big Mac, there were questions on whether Chishko would even see the mat for Canon McMillan in the 2012-2013 season. Chishko suffered an elbow injury during the Super 32 preseason tournament, forcing him to miss the entire regular season, including Canon McMillan's successful run back to the top during the team championships. But Chishko, who kept his conditioning while his elbow healed, wanted to get back to wrestle in the individual postseason after finishing third in the state the last two years. He was able to get cleared for competition in time and was dominant in winning a Section 4 title. Chishko would get his first test in the WPIAL Championships, wrestling Franklin Regional's sensational sophomore Josh Shields in the finals. In an exciting match, Chishko was able to best Shields to win his third straight WPIAL gold with a 3-2 victory. After that tough match, Chishko then began to find his groove. He went on to wrestle in dominating fashion to win his first ever PIAA Championship, beating Chris Vassar of Cedar Cliff by major decision, 8-0, in the state finals. Chishko will return to Canon McMillan for his senior year, but he does already have his college choice made, as he plans to attend Virginia Tech in 2014-2015.

Dakota DesLauriers, Burrell, senior, 182 pounds (36-0, 152-14)

DesLauriers has been a stalwart in the Bucs’ lineup over the past four seasons. This year, he successfully completed a four year ascension up the Class AA state championship tournament ladder. The Mercyhurst recruit finished in sixth and third place at 171 pounds at Hershey’s GIANT Center his first two seasons as a Burrell wrestler. Last year he finished with a silver medal at 182 pounds. Competing again at 182 this season, the Bucs’ star grappler earned his first state title with a late third period takedown in the championship bout for a 3-1 victory over Muncy’s Troy Hembury.  DesLauriers is also a three-time PIAA Southwest Regional, WPIAL, Westmoreland County, and Section 3 champion and he won the 182 pound title at the Powerade Christmas Tournament the past two seasons.

Jason Nolf, Kittanning, junior, 132 pounds (45-0, 132-1)

Despite jumping up three weight classes since a year ago, Nolf ended his junior season the same way he did his freshman campaign, as an undefeated state champion.  The Wildcats’ phenom won the first 85 bouts of his career before falling in the Class AA 113 pound semifinals at Hershey last year as a sophomore. He settled for third place at the state tournament, but again he has another impressive win streak since his only career loss, this one is 47 bouts and counting. Next season, Nolf should obliterate the Kittanning school career victory mark of 137 wins held by Chamie Hooks, the only other Wildcats’ wrestler to win a state championship (1995). Nolf is also a three-time PIAA Southwest Regional, WPIAL, and Section 3 champion and he won the 132 pound crown at the Powerade Christmas Tournament this past season.

Jacob Hart, Hampton, Senior, 195 pounds (44-1, 143-21)

Last year left a bit of a sour taste in the mouth of Jacob Hart. Despite finishing 40-4, Hart was still disappointed by coming up just short of winning WPIAL and PIAA gold, finishing second in both tournaments to Perry Hills of Pittsburgh Central Catholic. Hart however would use those losses as motivation to train harder for his senior season. He wrestled tough all season long, finishing second at the Powerade and first at the Allegheny County Tournament during the regular season. But throughout the entire year there was one match everyone felt we'd see back to back weeks, with Hart facing Kiski Area senior Matt McCutcheon, who was a WPIAL and PIAA Champion just a year ago. After winning a Section 3 title, Hart and McCutcheon were on a collision course to wrestle for a pair of gold medals. In the first meeting, Hart used a deep double leg takedown in overtime to beat McCutcheon 3-1. After three big wins in Hershey, Hart again was scheduled to face off against McCutcheon with the claim to being the best in PA on the line. The match would again be tied at 1-1 late in the third period when Hart used a pair of duck-unders to pull away from McCutcheon. The first would draw a fleeing the mat call, as McCutcheon would make his best effort to get to the out of bounds line. Hart then hit the same move again, this time scoring a takedown with a pair of back points to win the match 6-1. How would Hart cap his hard work where he would get the gold he desperately wanted a year ago? By hitting a back flip of course! Hart will attend Edinboro University to continue his wrestling career.

Sam Krivus, Hempfield, Sophomore, 120 pounds (40-3, 85-7)

After a heartbreaking end to last year’s freshman campaign, Krivus ended his sophomore season with an exclamation point, claiming PIAA gold. Last season Krivus, fresh off a WPIAL championship, entered the PIAA Championships with butterflies in his stomach. It showed, as Krivus stumbled out of the gates and lost in his opening round match to Zach Ulerick of Middletown, 3-1, in OT. But Krivus, who ended up winning five straight matches to claim third place last year, used that loss as motivation in the offseason to make sure he would never have that feeling come back again. Krivus placed fourth at the Beast of the East, second at Powerade, and first at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Tournament. He then captured a Section 1 title and repeated as a WPIAL Champion, beating Vincenzo Joseph of Pittsburgh Central Catholic 12-0. Then came the state tournament, where Krivus put butterflies aside, winning four straight matches including a 3-1 win over Dalton Macri of Canon McMillan in the finals to win his first PIAA Championship.

Tyler Smith, Franklin Regional, Junior, 132 pounds (45-4, 120-19)

An anchor in the Franklin Regional lineup, Smith was able to not only get his 100th win in his junior year, but he was also able to find the top of the medal stand in Hershey. After placing fifth in the state a year ago, Smith was determined to improve. He finished in second at the Powerade and first at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Championships during the season. After winning a Section 1 Championship, Smith was looking to win his first WPIAL Championship after finishing as a WPIAL runner-up as a freshman and sophomore. But after a slow start in the finals, Smith fell short and once again finished second, losing to Ethan Kenney of Connellsville, 14-12. But Smith did not let this setback alter his path to the top, putting together an impressive four match win streak in Hershey to win his first PIAA Championship, beating Patrick Duggan of Cumberland Valley in the finals, 5-3.

Luke Pletcher, Latrobe, Freshman, 106 pounds (41-2)

Pletcher was an aggressive wrestler who was simply tough to score points on all season long. After placing fifth at the King of the Mountain tournament early in the year at 113 pounds (where he picked up his only two losses), Pletcher dropped to 106 pounds and was nothing short of dominant. He won titles at the Powerade Christmas Tournament and the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Championships before heading into the postseason. After winning a Section 1 championship, Pletcher won a WPIAL title by beating Gage Curry of North Hills in the final, 4-1. He then carried his strong season into Hershey and capped his freshman campaign with a PIAA championship, winning 8-2 over Connor Sheehan of Solanco in the finals.

George Phillippi, Derry, freshman, 113 pounds (42-4)

Pletcher and Phillippi were the only freshmen in Pennsylvania to win state championships this season. While Pletcher was a pre-season pick of many to stand atop the podium in Hershey, Phillippi’s meteoric rise to the top was a surprise to most. Although wrestling very well early in the season, he did not manage to place at the Powerade Christmas Tournament. His third place finish at the Westmoreland County Tournament in January certainly was encouraging, but hardly pointed towards an imminent state title. But once the post season qualifiers began, the Trojans’ lightweight caught fire. Often he was nearly impossible to score against. A punishing rider in the top position, Phillipi beat top-seeded Beth-Center senior Zach Swarrow, 2-0, in the Section 2 title match. A week later, another senior, South Fayette’s Seth Carr, was a 1-0 victim at the WPIAL Class AA Championships. Two weekends later, Phillippi won four bouts at the state championships in Hershey by scores of 9-0, 6-1, and 2-1 in two overtimes, before again beating Carr, 1-0, in the title bout. He is the fifth Derry wrestler to win a state title. The Trojans have had at least one state champion eight of the last nine seasons.

Matt McCutcheon, Kiski Area, senior, 195 pounds (37-2, 158-14)

Playing second fiddle to Hampton’s Jake Hart is certainly not what McCutcheon had in mind when his senior season started. But despite disappointing second place finishes at the WPIAL and PIAA Championships this year, his impressive career accomplishments are not diminished. In addition to the Class AAA PIAA and WPIAL titles he won at the end of his junior season, McCutcheon is a four time Westmoreland County champion. He is only the tenth wrestler to accomplish the feat during the 60-year history of the event. McCutcheon remains the only state champion for Kiski Area and has more career wins than any other Cavalier, eclipsing Tyler Oravec’s record of 149 victories set during the 2006-09 seasons. He also won the prestigious pre-season Super 32 Tournament each of the past two seasons. McCutcheon will wrestle for three-time defending NCAA champion Penn State next season.

Mike Kemerer, Franklin Regional, sophomore, 126 pounds (38-6, 77-7)

Jumping up three weight classes from 106 pounds usually spells big trouble for most sophomores. But Kemerer continued to show why he is one of the state’s top college prospects. He is now a two-time Class AAA state silver medalist, having lost in the final bout this season to Schram, a two-time state champ, and last season to Parkland’s Ethan Lizak, now also a two-time state gold medalist. He also finished second this season to Schram at the WPIAL Championships and Powerade Christmas Tournament. The two-time Section 1 champion had a tremendous freshman season, winning WPIAL, Powerade, Westmoreland County, and Super 32 titles. Look for Kemerer to begin working on his own two-time state champion legacy next season.

Nick Zanetta, Keystone Oaks, senior, 132 pounds (35-5, 132-27)

Zanetta is third on the all-time Golden Eagles win list, trailing only older brother Anthony (155) and Miles Caragein (138).  Nick will join Anthony on the Pitt wrestling team next season. Zanetta’s epic second place finishes over the past two seasons are well documented. Last season, he came up short the last three weeks of the season in the finals of the WPIAL Championships, Southwest Regional, and state championships to one of the country’s top wrestlers, Derry’s Jimmy Gulibon, a four time state champion. This season, Nolf was the nemesis, narrowly beating Zanetta each of the season’s last four weekends, beginning with the Section 3 Tournament. Zanetta won his first Allegheny County championship this season, after finishing in second place as a junior and sophomore. Zanetta was also a Section 3 winner as a junior.

Garrett Vulcano, Chartiers-Houston, senior, 195 pounds (45-3, 154-38)

Vulcano enjoyed an outstanding senior season, winning his first Class AA WPIAL and Southwest Regional titles and placing second at the PIAA tournament. Vulcano lost in the state title bout, 7-0, to Milton’s Ryan Solomon, the top ranked 195-pounder in the country. He also won his first Tri-County Championship title and placed sixth at the Powerade Christmas Tournament this season. A three-time section champion, Vulcano now has more wins than any other athlete in the storied history of Chartiers-Houston wrestling, surpassing Mike Innes’ 132 career victories tallied from 2008-11. A star linebacker for the Bucs with 100+ tackles his senior season, Vulcano is leaning towards playing football at the next level. One of Vulcano’s objectives for his senior season was to finish higher than his father did at the state tournament. Frank Vulcano is the Athletic Director at Chartiers Valley High School, the Chairperson of the WPIAL’s wrestling sterring committee, and the tournament director of the prestigious Powerade Christmas Tournament. Frank, also a wrestler at Chartiers-Houston, finished third at the state tournament his senior season in 1981. Mission accomplished.

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