PIAA AAA Wrestling Tournament Begins Thursday; Two Bison Ready

HERSHEY – The PIAA released the official brackets for the 2018 AAA State Wrestling Championships. Wrestling begins at the Giant Center on Thursday in Hershey.

Clearfield seniors Luke McGonigal (31-1) at 195 and Hunter Wright (28-11) at 160 will be representing Clearfield in the tournament.

McGonigal was a runner-up in 2017’s State Championship, and will be entering the tournament for the fourth time. He will receive a first-round bye, and in the preliminaries, he will wrestle Chartiers Valley senior Shamil Zaynullaev (32-3). Zaynullaev placed third in the southwest regional championships held this past weekend.

Notable wrestlers on McGonigal’s side of the bracket are Jake Koser and Elijah Jones. Koser (29-3) is a senior from Northern York and was the South Central champion. Koser placed fourth at 195 pounds in 2017. Jones is a 39-3 senior from Boyertown who was crowned champion of the Southeast. Jones placed fifth at 182 pounds in 2017.

There aren’t any other state qualifers on McGonigal’s side of the bracket from last year. On the top half of the bracket, State College junior Cole Urbas (26-1), who beat McGonigal 1-0 in the Northwest Regional finals on Saturday, received the number one seed. Urbas placed third at 182 pounds last season. South Central runner-up Ben Fromm, a senior from Cocalico, placed eighth at 195 pounds last season. Rounding out the top half are returning state qualifiers Tyler Neglia (31-9), a junior out of Wallenpaupack and Connellsville senior Nate Ansell (22-3).

Wright will be making his first appearance at the state level after placing third place at the Northwest Regional tournament on Saturday. Wright will wrestle in the first round against South Central fourth place finisher Jarrett Feeney (33-9), a junior from Dallastown. This is also Feeney’s first time wrestling in the PIAA Championships.

A win for Wright would pit him against Southwest regional champion Zachary Hartman (40-1), a senior out of Belle Vernon. Hartman was a state qualifier in 2017.

Other state qualifiers on Wright’s side of the bracket are Northeast bronze medalist Jacob Burgette (36-7), a senior from Scranton, Southwest fourth place finisher Luke Stout (31-5), a sophomore out of Mt. Lebanon, and Aj Wilson (37-1), South Central champion from Solanco.

On the top half of Wright’s bracket, there are only two returning state qualifiers, but both of them placed high in the past. Northwest champion Carter Starocci (42-0), currently ranked number one, was a state runner-up in 2017 at 152, while Gerrit Nijenhuis (40-5), a sophomore from Canon-McMillan, placed third in last year’s 152 pound bracket.

Wrestling will begin promptly on Thursday for AAA at 4:00 PM. Preliminaries and the first round of wrestling will be completed before the first round of consolation takes place at approximately 8:15 PM.

Complete brackets, courtesy of the PIAA, can be found here.

A complete schedule of events can also be found here.

Tickets can be purchased at the Giant Center for $8 per session, on a first-come, first serve basis.

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