Five things to watch in the WPIAL wrestling team tournament
Can they do it again?
The 41st annual WPIAL wrestling team tournament gets underway Monday with four Class AAA preliminary-round matches at Canon-McMillan.
Burrell in Class AA and Kiski Area in Class AAA will try and defend their WPIAL titles. Burrell has won the past 12 championships in Class AA, and Kiski Area is the two-time reigning Class AAA champion.
Both will host matches for the first round and quarterfinals Wednesday.
The Class AAA semifinals and finals will be Saturday at Norwin. The Class AA semifinals and finals are Saturday at Chartiers-Houston.
Here are five things to watch for this year’s WPIAL wrestling tournament:
1. Westmoreland winners
Since Canon-McMillan won four consecutive titles (2010-13), Westmoreland County schools have celebrated the past five in Class AAA: Franklin Regional (2014, ‘15), Belle Vernon (‘16) and Kiski Area (‘17, ‘18).
This year’s Class AAA field features five teams from Westmoreland County: top-seeded Kiski Area, Greensburg Salem, Franklin Regional, Hempfield and Norwin.
2. Beware of Bucs
Top-seeded Burrell has reached the Class AA final in every year since 2003 — 16 consecutive seasons. During that time, the Bucs have won 13 titles, including the past 12. They have won a WPIAL-best 14 titles, all in Class AA. Their other title came in 1997, a 28-27 win against Southmoreland.
Joel DesLauriers was the Burrell coach in 1997, but during their current streak, the Bucs have been coached by Chris Como, Ryan Yates, Bud Sines and Josh Shields. Shady Side Academy was a victim three times, the most during the current run, in 2008, ‘09 and ‘10.
3. Big Mac attack
Canon-McMillan has reached the WPIAL finals 18 times, going 9-9. The Big Macs are the only team in Class AAA to win four consecutive titles. They and McGuffey are the only teams to lose three consecutive times in the finals. McGuffey reached the finals seven consecutive years (1993-99), winning three times.
The Big Macs are hosting a first-round/quarterfinal. They will face Peters Township or Franklin Regional in the first round. McGuffey will face Keystone Oaks in the opening round of the Class AA tournament Wednesday.
4. Still streaking
Connellsville is the only team to compete in every WPIAL tournament. The Falcons, coached by the late Tom Dolde Sr. and Tom Dolde Jr. in the past, have reached the WPIAL finals 14 times and won seven times. Connellsville is 7-3 in the finals after starting 0-4. This year’s Falcons, led by coach Jesse Swink, will face North Allegheny in the first round Wednesday.
5. Da Raiders
Waynesburg is the only team to win a WPIAL title in Class AA and Class AAA. The Raiders, coached by Joe Ayersman, won three in Class AA (1979, ‘80 and ‘88) and one in Class AAA (‘89). Waynesburg is 4-4 in the finals.
The Raiders will open against Mt. Lebanon and could meet Hempfield in the quarterfinals. Waynesburg has lost to Canon-McMillan the past five years in the section championship match.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.