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Wrapping up the wrestling season


Here’s some notes to put a wrap on the 2012-13 high school wrestling season, courtesy of Paul Schofield and Bill West.

With the PIAA wrestling season completed, Kiski Area junior Shane Kuhn suddenly has time to sit down and sort through all the emails he’s received in the past few weeks from college coaches — for both his abilities on the mat and on the football field.
“Now that it’s over, I’m going to hit the recruiting process pretty hard and try to make my decision on what to do,” said Kuhn, a heavyweight who improved to 106-18 in his career and added a second PIAA Class AAA top-four finish to his resume by placing third. “My email is full. I can’t even think of all of (the schools) right now.”
Among the schools who expressed interest in his as a wrestler: Pitt and Rutgers, Kuhn recalled.
For football, he’s heard from Tennessee, Michigan State, Rutgers, and Illinois, among others. Kiski Area has used Kuhn as a tight end and defensive lineman.
Wrestling and football remain equally important to Kuhn, who said he’s torn on which sport to pursue.
Studying what awaits in his inbox might solve that problem.

Is this the end?
Is this the end of Canon-McMillan’s run of greatness? The Big Macs have won four consecutive WPIAL team titles, two consecutive PIAA team titles and three consecutive PIAA tournament titles. They are losing two PIAA champions — Wiercioch and Schram — and numerous other starters to graduation. But with Chishko and Macri returning and a good junior high team coming up, the Big Macs should still be tough to beat.

It’s been awhile
The last time Canon-McMillan had three state champions the same season was in 1950 when then Canonsburg High’s Manuel Pihakis (95), Joe Solomon (145) and Don Haney (154) won titles.

Watch list
Watch out for Franklin Regional, North Allegheny, Latrobe, Connellsville and Kiski Area next season. All return numerous starters. Franklin Regional will bring back four PIAA placewinners, including state champion Tyler Smith and two-time runner-up Michael Kemerer.

The WPIAL’s six returning state champions will be the target of every opponent next year as they seek another state title. Kittanning’s Jason Nolf will be trying to become a three-time winner.

Nickname game
Wouldn’t it have been entertaining if Derry’s George ‘Mickey’ Phillippi and Kiski Area’s Matt ‘Mouse’ McCutcheon were teammates? Nobody would have kidded with them.

Masked man
With his nose banged up and continually on the verge of bleeding, Charleroi junior 138-pounder Nick Gavazzi started his fifth-place bout against Burrell junior Steve Edwards — a bout he won, 8-0 — with a protective mask on his face. But the gear remained there for just a few seconds, as Edwards knocked it off. Gavazzi was grateful.
“I couldn’t see anything,” he said. “I couldn’t see my own feet.”

Polite in defeat
Losses in the PIAA tournament often unleash the dark side of wrestlers, who occasionally throw their headgear, sprint off somewhere secluded or simply maintain a surly disposition for a few hours. Credit Kiski Area senior and Penn State recruit Matt McCutcheon for maintaining composure after his 6-1 loss to Hampton senior Jake Hart in the 195-pound title bout.
McCutcheon (37-2), a returning PIAA champion whose two losses this season came against Hart, declined an interview after he descended the medal stand — an understandable decision, considering the disappointing outcome for a young man ranked No. 1 in the country at his weight class by Intermat Wrestling earlier this season. But rather than snarl out his answer or completely ignore the request, he politely responded, “No, not right now. I’m sorry.”
“He’s major league, so he got himself up on the podium and did what he had to do,” Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky said. “But no, that wasn’t his desired outcome.”

Moving up
On the topic of Hart, an Edinboro recruit: He’ll likely ascend a few of the national ranking lists following his wins the WPIAL and PIAA finals. However, he didn’t put much value into them before, so he’s not inclined to start now.
“I feel like all rankings in the country and stuff, it’s mostly freestyle, and I don’t really wrestle freestyle that much,” Hart said.
High school wrestling follows folkstyle rules.

Stepping down
Yough coach Jeremy Zufall, who turned around the wrestling program at the school, has resigned to become the school’s baseball coach.

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