HERSHEY – Beginning this Thursday, the 2019 AAA State Wrestling Championships will be underway. The top 20 wrestlers at each of 14 weight classes will represent 134 teams at the Giant Center, all culminating in the placing of the top eight wrestlers in each weight class. That’s 112 medals being handed out.
Clearfield freshman Mark McGonigal (30-8) will be the lone wrestler from Clearfield to make the journey down Rt. 322 this year, after he placed second over the weekend at the NW Regional Tournament.
As a freshman, this will be McGonigal’s first opportunity to bring a medal back to his hometown, but this is not his first stint in a state championship. Last year, McGonigal participated in the PJW Jr. High State Championships where he took fourth place in a field of 41 competitors.
McGonigal has improved throughout the year. At the season opener in Top Hat, McGonigal took sixth place and was 3-3 on the weekend. By the beginning of January, he had earned the right to be a runner-up at Tool City. At the Ultimate Warrior Tournament, he wrestled a tough bracket while cutting weight to drop to 152 pounds and came away with a sixth place finish at 160. And recently, he won a District 4/9 title before regionals.
McGonigal will wrestle at 152 pounds, where he will be the only freshman in his weight class, and one of only four underclassmen. His first match will be against senior Jackson Erb (37-7) of Neshaminy. Erb placed second in the Southeast Region, and was a state qualifier in 2018 as well.
Notable wrestlers in McGonigal’s bracket include 10 wrestlers who went to states last year, and three who have medaled in the past. Out of the pack, the most decorated wrestler is senior Daniel Mancini (33-3) of Owen J. Roberts. He placed fourth as a junior and qualified for states as a sophomore, but he was beaten 8-6 by junior Dillon Sheehy (34-9) of Council Rock North in the semi’s of last weekends Southeast Regional tournament. Sheehy also beat Erb, McGonigal’s first opponent, by a 3-2 tie-breaker decision in the finals.
The next highest returning placewinnner is junior Cole Handlovic (39-5) of Bethlehem Catholic. Handlovic placed sixth last year as a sophomore and won the Northeast Region this year. Finally, senior Cam Connor (46-2) of Kiski Area placed seventh as a junior and leads the field with a 96% win percentage.
Also in McGonigal’s bracket are past state qualifier junior Cole Flanagan (35-13) of Council Rock South, sophomore Colton Zimmerman (31-8) of Carlisle, senior Jeremiah Oakes (36-3) of Scranton, senior Michael Kistler (44-12) of Northampton, and junior Tanner Updegraff (28-2) of Hershey.
The first round of AAA wrestling is set to begin at 4:00 PM Thursday afternoon. The complete schedule for the PIAA AA and AAA Tournaments can be found here.
The complete bracket, courtesy of the PIAA can be found here.