Plum, Valley fall in opening round |
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Rob Amen

NORTH STRABANE TOWNSHIP: Valley senior Billy Enciso needed just 26 seconds of the second period of his 125-pound match to record his 100th victory.

It was one of the lone highlights of the evening for the Vikings.

Valley (5-4) and Plum (7-2), neighbors in Section 4-AAA, wrestled on adjacent mats Thursday evening at Canon-McMillan High School, and their performances were almost identical.

Valley, the third-place finisher in Section 4-AAA, won just three matches, including Enciso’s, in their 53-17 loss to Section 6-AAA champion Canon-McMillan in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA team wrestling tournament.

Plum, the second-place finisher in Section 4-AAA, won two of the first 10 bouts en route to dropping a 39-24 decision to Section 6-AAA runner-up Trinity.

Trinity (12-2) defeated Canon-McMillan (13-3), 25-23, in their quarterfinal match later in the evening. Trinity advances to the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday at Gateway.

“Trinity’s a good team,” Plum coach Chuck Froehlich said. “That’s why they’re ranked so high.”

The Mustangs’ final three wrestlers – Steve Chirieleison at 171, Matt Cassidy at 189 and Bryan McCarthy at 275 – made things interesting late. Chirieleison won by forfeit, Cassidy pinned Brad Marshell in 41 seconds, and McCarthy scored a takedown in overtime to edge Ken McDonald, 3-1.

“Thirty-nine to 24, a couple matches go our way, it’s a lot closer,” said Cassidy, who improved to 18-1 overall. “Everybody wrestled their hardest. They just came out on top.”

That was the same message Valley coach Chad Hanna portrayed afterward.

“I thought, by and large, we fought as well as we could,” Hanna said. “Some of our kids stepped it up and did a nice job, even in losing.

“The competitive level, some of the techniques (Canon-McMillan) did we haven’t seen this year.”

His wrestlers could see them again, though, and that’s what Hanna said he would like his wrestlers to take away from Thursday’s loss.

Enciso, for example, is one Viking who could find himself in the state individual tournament in about five weeks. He advanced as far last season and stopped just short of saying anything less would make for a disappointing season.

Enciso was so set on the individual postseason, he cared little to talk about his milestone.

“I’m just more focused for the end of the year than anything,” said Enciso, who will drop to 119 for sectionals. “If I don’t make it up to states …

“One hundred-twelve (pounds), one-nineteen and one-twenty-five are probably going to be the toughest weights in the WPIAL. There are going to be a lot of competitive kids.”

Enciso figures to be one them.

“One hundred wins in this end of the state, whether it be AA or AAA, you’re doing a helluva job,” Hanna said. “You’re up there with the best and beaten some of the best.”

It might not get any better than Cassidy at 189.

The Plum standout finished fourth in the state a year ago at 171 and said he figures to be one of the favorites to win a WPIAL title and earn a return trip to states this season.

“This,” he said, “is a nice little scrimmage for individuals.”

Besides victories by Cassidy, Chirieleison and McCarthy, freshman Sean Clair scored an 8-6 decision over Trinity’s Steve Santi at 119, and 135-pounder Will Tedder pinned Dave DeJohn at 4:53.

Trinity built a 39-9 lead before Plum closed the gap late.

Valley fell behind, 14-0, before Enciso pinned Canon-McMillan’s Mike Caldwell at 2:26. The Big Macs won three consecutive matches to lead, 29-6, when Anthony Arcuri scored a 15-0 technical fall of Brendon Steele at 145.

The final five matches all ended in pins, with Tom Villella at 171 the only Viking to win.

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