All eyes are on Pittsburgh this week as the 2019 NCAA National Tournament takes over PPG Paints Arena. This is an area enriched with wrestling tradition and success on various levels. So what makes wrestling so good in Western Pennsylvania? Well, take a look at it from a historical perspective.
Since 1946 there have been 162 All-Americans in NCAA Division I Wrestling who come from Pennsylvania’s District 7, commonly referred to as the WPIAL (Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League). Keep in mind, Pennsylvania is split into 12 different Districts, and the WPIAL is just 1 of those 12.
Of those 162 NCAA All-Americans from the WPIAL, 35 of them were National Champions.
Last year the WPIAL saw seven former wrestlers place in the top eight at the NCAA National Tournament – three of them Champions.
The last time seven wrestlers from the WPIAL were on the medal stand was in back-to-back seasons during 1998 and 1999.
Think back to all the names on the list – Cary Kolat, Greg Jones, Kurt Angle, Ed Peery, Teague Moore, and Tony Gizoni. It goes on and on. Add in the fresh faces of Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph, and Spencer Lee.
2019 is on pace to match those numbers – an even break the record.
So which programs in Western Pennsylvania have the largest number of All-Americans? For a WPIAL fan the answer may seem easy – Canon-McMillan. The Big Macs have seen 18 total All-Americans in wrestling since 1946. The North Allegheny Tigers are second with 15 total All-Americans, third on the list is Waynesburg with 12, and fourth are the Hillers of Trinity with 11. Shaler, thanks in large part to Ed Peery and Troy Letters have 9 All-Americans. The sixth school on the list is Franklin Regional who, in just the last seven years, have earned eight All-Americans. Four of which come from 2016 NCAA Champion Nico Megaludis.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that in 72 years, between 1946 and 2018, there were only twelve years where a WPIAL wrestler did not earn NCAA All-American honors. Put another way, 50 out of the 72 years, the WPIAL had at least one All-American.
Take a look at the list below! Send any corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org