HERSHEY — Clearfield Bison junior Luke McGonigal took a major step towards a medal at the PIAA AAA State Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey on Thursday evening by winning his first bout.
Sean Hoover (18-5) from North Allegheny defeated Ben Root (37-8) from Solanco 4-3 in preliminary round action for the right to face McGonigal (34-1) in first round action.
After a scoreless first period, Hoover, the Southwest Region fourth place finisher, chose bottom to start the second period. After almost a minute had elapsed, Hoover finally stood up and escaped for the first point of the match.
Undeterred by the deficit, McGonigal, the Northwest Region champ, earned a single leg takedown after a scramble and took a 2-1 lead in to the final period.
Choosing bottom to start the final two minutes. McGonigal escaped right off the whistle for a 3-1 lead. After a minute and a half of the neutral position McGonigal was hit with a stall warning. With time winding down in the period, Hoover went for broke, but it was McGonigal who would have won another scramble as time expired in the 3-1 victory.
In his quarterfinal match, McGonigal will face Ryan Finn (32-4), the Southeast Region third place finisher, who defeated Xavier Barber (37-5) of Dallas by a 5-4 margin in his first round bout.
Finn, a senior, is making his first state appearance, while McGonigal is making his third trip to Hershey.
The quarterfinals and second round of consolations will begin at 2:15 PM on Friday afternoon. A win would assure McGonigal his first state medal and a semifinal match on Saturday morning.. A loss would send him to the third round of consolations, which start at 5:00 PM Friday evening.
Ed Scott at 113 and Kolby Ho at 132, both from DuBois, were the only other two District 9 wrestlers to advance to the quarterfinals. Trent Donahue at 106 from DuBois and Tyler Dilley at 120 from St. Marys are alive in the second round of consolations.
Complete bracket results can be found by clicking here, courtesy PA-Wrestling.com.