HERSHEY — Clearfield Bison junior Luke McGonigal’s goal for a long time has been to win a state title. If he is to reach that lofty goal, it will, unfortunately, have to wait one more year.
McGonigal made it to the PIAA-AAA Championship Finals where he ran in to a buzz saw in the person of Bethlehem Catholic’s Mike Labriola.
Labriola (44-0) dominated on his feet throughout the match, securing seven takedowns, to defeat McGonigal 17-9 to claim his second consecutive state title, and fourth states medal overall, having placed seventh and third before his two year reign at the top of the Giant Center podium.
The Nebraska Cornhusker recruit wasted no time, opening the scoring 27 seconds into the match and built a 6-3 lead after one period by securing three takedowns and McGonigal securing three escapes.
Starting down in the second period, Labriola upped his lead to 9-3 with an escape and another takedown. Despite the deficit, McGonigal never quit, escaping once again and then sparked the Clearfield faithful with some hope as he took Labriola down and was with striking distance at only 9-6 halfway through the match.
From there however, Labriola was able to once again take over control of the match and ended the middle period up 14-7 after picking up an escape and two more takedowns.
McGonigal escaped once again to start the third, but one more takedown in the final period by Labriola sealed the deal and the final ended up 17-9.
McGonigal was the first Bison finalist since heavyweight Sean Owen brought home gold in 2008, and is the first Bison medalist since Nolan Barger was fourth in 2013.
McGonigal finished up his highly successful junior campaign with a 36-2 record, both of his losses being to state champions, his earlier loss on the season being a one-pointer to 182 pound AA state champion Cody Mulligan of Saegertown.
Taking his 100-20 career mark in to his senior season, McGonigal has positioned himself to pass several Bison on his way to potentially reach the top of the Clearfield all-time win list.
McGonigal will need 37 wins his final season to pass such Bison stalwarts as Derek Danver (124), Brad Pataky (125), Nolan Barger (127), Christian Stone (128), Tommy Barger (134), Sean Owen (135), and, finally, the leader of the herd at 136, Matthew Kyler.
Nazareth claimed the team title by scoring 111.5 points and having two state champions. Exeter’s Austin DeSanto won the Outstanding Wrestler Award after knocking off undefeated 3-time state champion Spencer Lee in the 126 pound final.
Complete results can be found by clicking here, courtesy www.PA-Wrestling.com.
(McGonigal is seen below celebrating his 100th win, which he picked up in dramatic fashion during the semifinals)