Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Area Teams Pass on Their Holiday Tradition

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Area Teams Pass on Their Holiday Tradition

Article excerpt

For more than a decade, the wrestling teams from Kiski Area and North Allegheny spent a few days of their Christmas vacation at the Manheim Lions Holiday Tournament.

It was a chance for both squads to face competition from other parts of the state. But the unique hospitality displayed by its host, the Lions Club, was the thing that most attracted each squad to the two-day tournament.

"Our wrestlers stayed with various host families," Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said. "And the coach of each team was given a free hotel room. It was a fantastic deal. The school paid for our entry fee and the boosters paid for the vans we used on the trip. Typically, the whole trip cost our boosters $700-800."

That changed when Manheim Central School District decided that all sponsor families must have security clearances before they can host any wrestlers.

"They wanted clearances for anybody who lives in that household," Heater said. "It would have cost them more than $8,000, $50 per person, for the clearances."

That meant Kiski Area and North Allegheny would have to pay for hotel rooms to attend this year's tournament.

"It would have cost our boosters $2,500-3,000," Heater said. "That just wasn't an option."

With that in mind, both teams pulled out of the Manheim Holiday Tournament and entered the Powerade Christmas Tournament, which begins Tuesday at Canon-McMillan High School.

"We've never been to the Powerade Tournament before," said Heater, a first-year head coach who served as Chuck Tursky's assistant for 23 years. "We've always sent our JVs to the Powerade JV Tournament. We're looking forward to the challenge."

North Allegheny is making its first appearance since 2004.

"North Allegheny hasn't been to Powerade for awhile, but I'm very familiar with the tournament," said North Allegheny's first-year coach Sanshiro Abe, who coached at Central Catholic the past seven years. "It's one of the toughest tournaments in the country. It's a big challenge for our team."

The 49th annual Powerade Tournament has 48 teams for the second consecutive year. Thirty-five teams are from Pennsylvania, including 19 from the WPIAL. Eight other states are represented. New Jersey and West Virginia each have three teams entered, while Maryland has two. Texas, Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, and Oklahoma each have one team entered.

The WPIAL entries are Belle Vernon, Bethel Park, Burrell, Canon- McMillan, Connellsville, Derry Area, Franklin Regional, Jefferson- Morgan, Kiski Area, Latrobe, North Allegheny, Norwin, Penn- Trafford, Peters Township, Pine-Richland, Shaler, South Park, Trinity and Waynesburg.

Latrobe's Luke Pletcher can join an elite group with a fourth Powerade Tournament title. Pletcher has won titles at 106, 120 and 132. …

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