Canon-McMillan edges Waynesburg on criteria to capture 10th WPIAL wrestling title

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Saturday, February 4, 2023 | 3:13 PM


Waynesburg’s run as king of WPIAL wrestling ended Saturday at Peters Township.

Canon-McMillan got pins from Collier Hartman (107 pounds) and Joseph Ryder (127) to defeat Waynesburg, 28-28, by criteria D, most team wins, in the Class 3A team championship. The Big Macs (14-2) won seven matches to the Raiders’ six.

It was the Big Macs’ 10th title and first since 2013. Waynesburg (14-4) had won the past three titles.

Canon-McMillan coach Brian Krenzelak wore a gold jacket, blue pants, blue shirt and striped tie in honor of the late Manuel “Buns” Pihakis, a legend at the school and former four-time WPIAL and three-time PIAA champion. Pihakis was the school’s former athletic director who passed away Nov. 5, 2022.

“This season has been dedicated to him, and this win was for him,” Krenzelak said. “This was fantastic, a WPIAL championship for the Canonsburg community. I’m super proud of these kids.”

Both teams earned a trip to Hershey and a spot in the PIAA tournament, which begins Thursday.

Canon-McMillan will face the winner of Monday’s match between the District 3 third-place finisher and District 1’s fourth-place team, and Waynesburg gets the District 4 champion.

Hempfield also advanced to the PIAA tournament after defeating Connellsville, 32-31, in the WPIAL’s third-place match Saturday. The Spartans (9-5) will wrestle City League champion Allderdice at 6 p.m. Monday at Carrick. A victory sends them to Hershey.

In the final, Canon-McMillan jumped out to a 32-12 lead thanks to a major decision by Brandon Dami (121 pounds), a pin by Ryder and close wins by Andrew Binni, 4-2 over Joe Simon at 133, and Josiah Gardner’s 15-11 victory against Daniel Huffman.

“We did a good job not allowing bonus points,” Krenzelak said. “Matt (Furman) getting that takedown on Rocco (Welsh) saved a point. Rocco didn’t get a major. Everyone stepped up.”

In early December, Waynesburg edged Canon-McMillan, 30-27.

Waynesburg coach Ky Szewczyk said it just wasn’t his team’s day.

“Not getting bonus points and them getting a pin at 107 was the difference,” Szewczyk said. “You have to make up those points wherever you can, and we didn’t. We have to get back to work and do well in Hershey. The goal is to be top four.”

In the third-place match, the Spartans bounced back with a strong effort after falling to Canon-McMillan in the semifinals. Hempfield lost to Connellsville, 34-27, back on Jan. 25.

“We talked in the locker room about having a short memory in situations like this,” Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine said. “We got down early against Canon-McMillan and didn’t get a chance to get into the meat of our lineup. I’m proud how we responded. We had some guys come up with huge wins.”

It started with Ryan Steffey at 189, where he rallied to defeat Hunter Petrovich, 6-5.

Senior Elijah Binakonsky followed with a first-period pin of Chris Cook, and then Ty King rallied to defeat Landon Lynn, 5-4, at 114.

“We saved points, and that was huge,” DeAugustine said. “Ty did a great job against Lynn, Ryan seemed to be in better shape in his match, and Elijah got a pin. All things even, we thought the Steffey match would decide it.”

Nico Kapusta (107) and Lucas Kapusta (152) picked up pins, and Ethan Lebin survived a late scramble by Lonzy Vielma at 139 to win 7-5.

Evan Petrovich (127) had the lone pin for the Falcons (14-6).

Semifinals

Canon-McMillan 37, Hempfield 36 — After dropping the first bout of the morning, the Big Macs strung together pins by Matt Furman (172), Gabriel Stafford (189), Geno Calgaro (215) and Noah Livesay (285) as part of seven consecutive victories in the semifinals at Peters Township.

Hempfield started the match with a pin by Charlie Mesich at 160. Canon-McMillan, once it clinched the victory, forfeited the final five matches.

Waynesburg 45, Connellsville 25 — The Raiders won six consecutive matches after falling behind early and rolled over Connellsville, which had defeated Waynesburg, 36-33, on Dec. 22, in a nonsection match.

Waynesburg got pins from Rocco Welsh (189), Brody Evans (215), Eli Makel (285), Floyd Huff (107) and Nate Jones (152).

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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