HERSHEY – Bison seniors Luke McGonigal (32-1) and Hunter Wright (28-13) wrestled on opening night of the PIAA Class AAA State Championships. While McGonigal advanced to the quarter-finals with an outstanding first-round performance, Wright had a rougher go of it.
Luke McGonigal wrestled Chartiers Valley senior Shamil Zaynulllaey (33-4) in his preliminary bout. McGonigal scored the first takedown and got three near fall points in the first minute of the match by utilizing a two on one tilt. Then Luke scored three more back points at the end of the first period after running an arm bar, making the score 8-0.
Electing to choose down to start the second period, McGonigal exploded from the bottom for an escape before working on another takedown to be up 11-0.
Using another tilt for back points in the middle of the second period, Luke went up 14-0. Then, Zaynullaev finally got on the scoreboard with an escape, but it was a moot point as McGonigal used the opportunity to take down Zaynullaev again to win by tech fall in 3:37 with a final score of 16-1.
With that victory, McGonigal will meet Boyertown senior Elijah Jones (40-3). Jones won the Southeast Regional title last weekend and placed fifth at states last year. McGonigal has met Jones twice in high school, both times in 2016. McGonigal won those matches 10-1 in the state consolation rounds and 9-2 in dual meet action.
Hunter Wright was eliminated after losing to Dallastown junior Jarrett Feeney (34-10) and Spring Grove junior Anthony Hinson (39-5).
In Wright’s first match, he scored the first takedown and led 2-0 before entering the second period. Unfortunately, Wright gave up a technical violation point, was reversed by Feeney and gave up three back points. In the third period, Wright was taken down early and eventually got a reversal with 25 seconds left in the match.
Wright’s second match was much more contentious. Following a great five-point move hit late in the first period, Wright led 5-0. In the second period, Hinson chose bottom and reversed Wright to make the match 5-2. In the third period, Wright chose bottom, where he was immediately called for stalling.
Wright was then called for stalling again with 59 seconds left, making the score 5-3. When yet another stall call was made with 27 seconds remaining, Wright was only up 5-4. Wright questioned the referee’s call and was hit with a two point unsportsmanlike conduct call, putting Wright down 6-5. Hinson would hang on to win the match 6-5, having never scored a single offensive point.
With that loss, Wright’s career has officially come to an end. He finished his season with a 28-13 record, and his career came to a close with a 63-41 mark. Wright was a 2018 NW Region Bronze Medalist and 2017 and 2018 District IX Runner-up.
Now Luke McGonigal, ranked 17th in the nation by The Open Mat, will return to action as the sole Bison remaining in his quest to be Clearfield’s 41st State Champion. Quarterfinals will begin at 2:15 PM, though McGonigal will likely not wrestle until after four. A third round of consolation is set to begin at five.
The only other District IX wrestler who will join McGonigal in the quarterfinals is DuBois’ senior Kolby Ho (33-4) at 145. Still alive in the consolation brackets is DuBois’ sophomore Ed Scott (33-3).
Complete bracket results can be found here courtesy the PIAA.