HERSHEY — Assured of his first PIAA-AAA State Wrestling Championship medal, Clearfield Bison junior Luke McGonigal has two more matches to win to reach his ultimate goal of a gold medal.
McGonigal (35-1) won his quarterfinal bout against Pottsgrove’s Ryan Finn (32-5) 3-1, the identical score of his first round win over Sean Hoover of North Allegheney.
Like his previous match, this one was scoreless after one period as well. There were a number of scrambles where it looked like either wrestler would score, but no control was ever maintained and it went to the second 0-0.
Finn took bottom to start the second set of two minutes, and almost got out during the first minute of action, but McGonigal repeatedly brought him back to the mat. Finally, after a couple of tilt attempts, McGonigal finally worked one long enough for nearfall points with 28 seconds remaining in the period to go up 2-0.
McGonigal chose down to start the final period, but Finn gave up the escape point to start neutral and give McGonigal a 3-0 lead with two minutes left to wrestle. In what seemed a lot longer than two minutes to the Bison faithful, McGonigal weathered the storm and only gave up a meaningless stall point late in the period to move on with a 3-1 victory.
McGonigal’s quarterfinal victory leaves him one short of the milestone 100-win mark for his career; he’s now at 99-19 overall.
Tim Wallace (37-2), the Southwest Region champion from Albert Gallatin, awaits McGonigal in Saturday morning’s semifinal match-up. The other semifinal pits Bethlehem Catholic’s Mike Labriola (42-0) and Exeter Township’s Tyler Bagoly (47-3). McGonigal and Wallace are juniors, while Labriola and Bagoly are both seniors.
The semifinal losers, assured of a top-6 finish, would move on to the fifth round of consolations, while the winners will be in the Parade of Champions Saturday night.
District 9 has one other representative in the semifinals, that being freshman Ed Scott (37-1) of DuBois at 113 pounds.
It is a two-team race for the AAA state title as Bethlehem Catholic currently leads with 60 points and is followed closely behind by Nazareth with 56 points. Beth Cath still has seven wrestlers alive, three in the semis, while Nazareth has six still alive, four in the semis.
The semifinals and fourth round of consolations begin at 9:00 AM on Saturday.
Complete results can be found by clicking here, courtesy the PA-Wrestling.com website.