Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

Canon-McMillan wrestling

Holly Tonini/Observer-Reporter

Canon-McMillan’s Jacob Houpt, top, maintains control over Hempfield’s Briar Priest during December’s quad meet, which also featured Kiski and Seneca Valley. All four teams are the top four seeds in WPIAL Class AAA Team Tournament, which begins Wednesday.

For those wrestling fans who ventured out of the house on that cold Friday night in December to watch a quad meet at Canon-McMillan High School, they were given an added treat.

Even if it wasn’t clear at the moment.

The four teams involved – Canon-McMillan, Kiski, Seneca Valley and Hempfield – not only put on a fine display of entertaining wrestling, but they gave a glimpse into the future.

It wasn’t a leap of faith to believe all four teams would earn a berth in the WPIAL Class AAA Team Tournament. Nor would it have been a stretch to believe each would earn a high seed.

And that’s exactly what happened.

When the top four seeds for the upcoming team tournament were released, all four were situated in positions of respect in the bracket.

Kiski was the No. 1 seed, Seneca Valley earned the second seed, Hempfield the third and Canon-McMillan the fourth.

At the December quad, Kiski won both matches, including a three-point victory over Canon-McMillan. Seneca Valley lost to Kiski but defeated Hempfield by one point. C-M was routed by Hempfield, 42-24.

So will the same scenario play out in the team tournament?

Not likely.

It’s important to understand the climate changes from a quad meet in December to a crucial postseason matchup.

While the threat of an upset always exists, the feeling here is that all four teams will emerge from Wednesday’s first two rounds and enter Saturday’s semifinals at Norwin High School in their seeded order.

Kiski would wrestle Canon-McMillan and Hempfield will take on Seneca Valley in the 4 p.m. matches. Finals are at 6 p.m.

In their December meet, the Big Macs lost three bouts by a combined five points and received a forfeit win in the lightweights. That spot is filled now so C-M needs to flip at least two of the losses from December to have a chance to win.

This isn’t a good matchup for Kiski, so the flip will be crucial. If the Big Macs win the flip and stay off their backs, they will pull out the win.

But be sure to have some antacids on hand if you are a C-M fan.

The other semifinal match is a head-scratcher. Seneca Valley was a one-point winner, but Hempfield is sure to make some changes in the lighter weight. If Hempfield gets the flip, the Spartans will win another close one.

That leaves Canon-McMillan against Hempfield in the finals. The Big Macs do not match up well against the Spartans. It might be closer than the 18-point loss in December but not much more.

Kiski has favorable matchups against Seneca Valley and should easily win the third-place dual meet, if it were to happen.

After carefully thinking over Class AA, I am going to go with a surprise pick.


Burrell is going to win this going away. It’s what the Bucs do, win WPIAL titles.

Burrell is coming off its 16th consecutive section title and has won 14 WPIAL Team Tournaments, including the last 12 in a row.

Make that 15 and 13 after this tournament.

The real battle will be for second place. Burgettstown is the second seed but Freedom will give the Blue Devils a fight. Look for Burgettstown to make it to the semifinals at Chartiers-Houston Saturday by defeating Quaker Valley.

The finals showdown with Burrell will not be close.

I’m going with Derry over Quaker Valley in the third-place match.

Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at

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