Powerade Wrestling Tournament again loaded with talent

Sunday, December 26, 2021 | 4:08 PM

High school wrestling fans are in for a holiday treat.

The 55th annual Powerade Wresting Tournament on Wednesday and Thursday is loaded with talent. It could be a preview of the NCAA Tournament in a few seasons.

When the tournament began 55 years ago, it featured some of the top wrestlers and teams from the WPIAL, mainly Washington, Greene and Fayette counties. The tournament was held at Cal (Pa.)’s Hamer Hall.

The tournament has grown to 66 teams, 27 from the WPIAL. It includes the top four programs — Blair Academy, Malvern Prep, St. Edwards and Wyoming Seminary — in the country and many top programs from the state: Waynesburg, Reynolds, Notre Dame-Green Pond, Burrell, Seneca Valley, Williamsport, Connellsville, Hempfield, North Allegheny and Latrobe.

“This definitely the best tournament we’ve ever had,” tournament director Frank Vulcano Jr. said. “It’s the first time we’ve had all the top programs here together.”

There are seven champions and 15 runners-up returning. Because of covid-19 concerns, the 2020 tournament was held at Monroeville Convention Center. This season, it returns to Canon-McMillan.

The returning champions are Malvern Prep’s Jack Consiglio (106 pounds), Jack Wehmeyer (189) and Nick Feldman (215); Bishop McCort’s Mason Gibson (120) and Jack Arrington (132); Latrobe’s Vinny Kilkeary (113) and Kiski Area’s Enzo Morlacci (160).

WPIAL wrestlers who return after placing second last year are Mt. Pleasant’s Dayton Pitzer (215), Frazier’s Rune Lawrence (172), Norwin’s Chase Kranitz (160), Seneca Valley’s Ty Chappell (106) and Waynesburg’s Rocco Welsh (152), Mac Church (120) and Joe Simon (113).

“With all the private schools entered, our goal is to finish in the top 15 as a team and be the biggest WPIAL team,” Latrobe coach Mark Mears said. “There’s going to be some great competition. It definitely will be a test for the wrestlers.

“I know our wrestlers are excited to compete against the best. It will show them how they rank.”

Latrobe is coming off a fourth-place finish at the King of the Mountain tournament. Mears said he was pleased with how his team competed.

“We’re building towards January when we get our complete team on the mat,” Mears said. “You’ll see some movement in the lineup, and I anticipate the return of Nate Roth.”

Roth has been recovering from offseason surgery, and Mears doesn’t want to rush him back into the lineup.

Norwin coach Kyle Martin said he hopes his team is back to full strength for the tournament. Injuries and the flu on Tuesday forced the Knights to weigh-in only four wrestlers in a nonsection dual meet at Canon-McMillan.

This year’s tournament features teams from Maryland, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio.

“We have the top three programs from New Jersey,” Vulcano said. “It’s the best it’s ever been.”

Kicking off wrestling week is the annual Southmoreland Tournament, which begins Monday. There are 33 teams entered in the tournament, all from within the state.

There are teams from Districts 5, 6, 8 and 10, along with McGuffey, Greensburg Salem, Fox Chapel, Peters Township, Butler, Bethel Park and Baldwin.

The Annual Gus DeAugustino Tournament at West Mifflin begins Wednesday. Some of the teams that are competing at Southmoreland on Monday and Tuesday are entered. They include Allderdice, Keystone Oaks, River Valley and Fox Chapel.

If you’re going

Powerade Wrestling Tournament

Canon-McMillan High School, Canonsburg

Wednesday: 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. sessions

Thursday: 11 a.m. semifinals; 4 p.m. finals

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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