HERSHEY — The Clearfield senior duo of Luke McGonigal and Hunter Wright make the trip to the PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Championships this week with one goal in mind — ending their Bison careers on the podium in Hershey.
McGonigal and Wright head to states after having their weekend at regionals finish of opposite ends of the emotional spectrum.
McGonigal (31-1), a returning state runner-up at 170 pounds, suffered his first loss of the season in a tough 1-0 decision to State College junior Cole Urbas in the 195-pound regional finals Saturday night.
Wright (28-11) on the other hand ripped off four straight pins in the 160-pound consolation bracket to finish third and earn his first trip to states.
McGonigal, a four-time state qualifier, landed in the bottom half of the 195-pound bracket for this weekend. He opens with a first-round bout against Chartiers Valley senior Shamil Zaynullaev (Southwest No. 3 seed, 32-3).
The winner of that bout could face returning medalist Elijah Jones (39-3), a senior from Boyertown who is the Southeast Region champ. Jones, a three-time qualifier, was fifth at 182 a year ago.
Also in the bottom is Southcentral champ Jake Koser (29-3), a senior from Northern York who also is a three-time qualifier — having placed fourth at 195 last year.
Urbas (26-1), who was third at 182 as a sophomore, is one of two returning state medalists in the top half at 195. The other is Southcentral runner-up Ben Fromm (36-4), a senior from Cocalico who was eighth at 195 in 2017.
There also are two other regional champs in the top half in Blue Mountain senior Nate Stine (Northeast, 33-2) and Connellsville senior Nate Ansell (Southwest, 22-3), who is a returning qualifier.
As for Wright, he landed in a pigtail bout in the bottom part of the draw at 160. He squares off against Dallastown junior Jarrett Feeney (Southcentral No. 4, 33-9). The winner faces Southwest champ Zachary Hartman (40-1) of Belle Vernon. Hartman, a senior, is a four-time qualifier who placed seven and fifth as a freshman and sophomore, respectively.
Southcentral champ AJ Wilson (37-1), a senior returning state qualifier from Solanco, also looms in the bottom half to draw, as does Scranton senior Jacob Burgette (Northeast No. 3, 36-7) — another state returnee.
The top half at 160 is headlined by a pair of returning medalists — Cathedral Prep junior Carter Starocci (Northwest No. 1, 42-0) and Canon-McMillan sophomore Gerrit Nijenhuis (Southwest No. 2, 40-5).
Starocci is a three-time qualifier who placed eighth as a freshman before placing second at 152 last year. Nijenhuis was third at 152 a year ago as a freshman.
The PIAA Class AAA Championships are set to begin Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Giant Center in Hershey.