Canon-McMillan dominates girls 2A wrestling regional; Norwin advances 4

Saturday, March 2, 2024 | 7:20 PM

In the first PIAA girls Western Regional championships, held at Canon-McMillan High School, schools from around the WPIAL had solid representation in the final matches.

No school had more of a presence than the host.

The Big Macs had three wrestlers win gold in their respective weight classes and had five more qualify for states.

It started with senior Valarie Solorio, who kept her record spotless at 11-0 and took home gold in the 100-pound weight class with a second-round pin of Montour sophomore Kristen Walzer, the WPIAL runner-up.

“It was the most emotional match I’ve had all year,” Solorio said. “When it was over, I stayed on a knee and took a look around. It was my last match here at Canon-Mac and I just couldn’t hold the tears back.”

It was the second time Solorio, an Iowa commit, faced Walzer in a week, but she was prepared for the rematch.

“My coaches and I came into this match with a gameplan to try and take her down and try to turn her,” she said. “After a turn or two, I let her up and just keep cutting her hoping to catch her in a mistake. The last time she shot in it was sloppy and I caught her, put her on her back and pinned her for the win.”

Being the first in anything is something to be proud of and Solorio wants the title of first ever one more time when she gets to Hershey.

“There’s nothing left to do but to go and win states,” Solorio added. “I was the first WPIAL champ, the first Regional champ and I want to be the first state champ.”

“I started working with Valarie when she was six,” coach Brian Krenzelak said. “She showed some talent, but her technique wasn’t solid. She’s come a long way in that aspect and has become a very special, very unique human being.”

The wins continued for Canon-Mac as Audrey Calgaro (170) brought home gold with a 7-0 decision over WPIAL champion Octavia Walker of Norwin.

Natalie Rush secured a first-place finish at 190 with a pin of Peters Township’s Liliana Giulianelli.

Canon-McMillan seniors Capri Chambers (106), Dynisty Williams (155), junior Eva Gray (142) and freshmen Malia Ramos (112) and Yunuen Ayala (118) all fought their way through the consolation bracket and secured spots in states.

“It says a lot about the girls, who waited three years for this,” Krenzelak said. “I showed them the names of the Canonsburg boys team who won the WPIAL championship in 1936. I told them they set the precedent and the tradition of excellence in motion just like those guys did. To see the win means a lot for the girls and the community.”

Canon-McMillan girls took home the trophy for the top team with a score of 128 points. Norwin came in second with 85.

In addition to Walker’s runner-up finish, the Knights had champions at 142 and 148.

Sophomore Josephine Dollman, the WPIAL champion, pinned Grace O’Korn of Peters Township to take home gold at 142, and freshman Karsyn Champion pinned WPIAL runner-up Hannah Hornick of Seneca Valley at 148.

“I feel great,” Dollman said. “I feel like this weekend was a showing of how far I’ve come since last year. I had some injuries, but I’m back to where I was.”

After her match, she waited to go to the podium and watched Champion in her match.

“Kamryn went into the match with little confidence, but I could tell her confidence was building as the match went on,” Dollman said.

Junior Knight Abigail Hewitt placed third in the 190 class to give Norwin four qualifiers for states.

Plum had a pair of wrestlers take gold in their weight classes.

WPIAL champion sophomore Saphia Davis finished first at 124 with a 5-4 decision over District 10 champion Kelly Enterline of Greenville.

“I’ve put in so much work, and this is my dream,” Davis said. “I’m just so excited that I was able to accomplish it. I’m excited for the challenge states will bring.”

It was a spirited match that went back and forth in points until the very end.

“Kelly’s a really good wrestler, very strong,” Davis said. “She caught me in a head and arm, but I came back. It was a stressful match, but I felt like I controlled it.”

Fellow sophomore and teammate Alaina Claassen, who was the WPIAL champ, pinned Southmoreland sophomore Zoey Murphy at 235 pounds.

Kiski Area sophomore Ava Golding, the WPIAL champion at 136, took home gold in her match against WPIAL runner-up Janayah Nobles of Connellsville.

“I started off to a slow start, but as the match went on, I was more comfortable and pick it up,” Golding said. “I’m very happy with how I did.”

Golding said she is excited to head to states but won’t forget the experience she had at regionals.

“This was crazy and such a cool thing to experience, and I’m happy to have been a part of it,” she said.

Other WPIAL girls to take home gold were senior Ana Malovich of Butler (118), freshman Haley Smarsh of Moon (130), and North Allegheny senior Leyna Rumpler, who won her 99th career match (155).

Latrobe will send a pair of wrestlers to Hershey as freshmen Miranda Kantoris (235) and Rowen Lewis (170) placed third and fourth, respectively.

District 10 champion Madilyn Enterline, a senior from Greenville, took gold in 106, and fellow District 10 champion Daylee Watson, a sophomore from Conneaut, placed first in 112.

The top four finishers in the girls PIAA Western Regional qualified for states, which will take place March 7-9 at Giant Center in Hershey.

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