HERSHEY — The Tri-County Area may only be sending three wrestlers to Hershey for the PIAA Class AAA Championships, but what the local contingent lacks in quantity it certainly makes up for in quality despite overall youth of the group.
That’s because the trio of DuBois freshman Dalton Woodrow (113 pounds) and Clearfield sophomore Luke McGonigal (170) and senior Travis Ogden (195) have combined to go 108-10 so far this season.
McGonigal is making his second straight trip to states, while Woodrow captured a seventh-place medal at 107 last year as an eighth grader at the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling Junior High State Championships. Ogden finished fourth at regionals a year ago, just missing his first trip to states.
With the success all three have enjoyed, the only thing missing from their resumés is a state medal at the varsity level, and all three hope to rectify that blemish this weekend.
Woodrow, the only of the group to win a Northwest Regional title last weekend, and Ogden, a runner-up in Altoona, both drew regular first-round bouts in the 20-man brackets that debuted last year at states. McGonigal, who was third last week in Altoona, has a pigtail round match at 170, which will make his trek for a state medal a little harder.
Woodrow (34-5) landed in the top half of the bracket at 106 that features four returning state qualifiers, including three medalists. The Beaver awaits the winner of a pigtail bout between a pair of other state newcomers in Penn-Trafford freshman Nick Coy (32-9) and Downingtown East senior James Strommer (35-10).
With a win, Woodrow would face either Central Dauphin sophomore Chris Wright (40-7) or Nazareth sophomore Ryan O’Grady (31-14). Wright placed seventh at 106 last year.
The top half at 106 also features returning 113-pound runner-up Gage Curry (39-0), a senior from Penn Hills and Pennridge junior Matt Parker (42-3), who was fifth a 106 a year ago. Curry and Parker will likely meet in the quarterfinals, with the winner being a potential semifinal opponent for Woodrow or whoever comes out of that part of the bracket.
The bottom at 106 has three more state medalists in Boyertown junior Jakob Campbell (32-4), Council Rock North junior Aidan Burke (33-7) and Warwick senior Devin Schnupp (41-1). Campbell and Burke were third and fourth, respectively, last year at 106, while Schnupp was sixth at 113.
As for McGonigal (37-3), the sophomore is making a return trip to Hershey despite making the big leap from 145 last year to 170 pounds this season. The Bison is one of 12 state returnees in a tough weight class this weekend.
McGonigal drew a fellow state returnee — Penn-Trafford junior Matt McGillick (29-11) — in his pigtail match in the top half of the bracket. The winners will face Manheim Central senior Jared Siegrist (32-0), the Southcentral champ who placed sixth at 170 last year.
The top half also features returnees in Council Rock North senior Josh Shalinsky (26-3), General McLane junior Ethan Laird (170) and Southwest champ Nino Bonnaccorsi (36-1) of Bethel Park. Bonnaccorsi was sixth at 152 in 2015.
The bottom half at 170 looks to be even tougher, with four wrestlers who placed in the Top 4 a year ago.
Two of those wrestlers — Bethlehem Catholic junior Mike Labriola (38-3), the Northeast champ, and Latrobe senior jake Shaffer (35-4) — could meet in the first round. Labriola was third at 152 last year, while Shaffer was fourth at 170.
Mifflin County senior Noah Stewart (36-3) and Belle Vernon senior Austin bell (38-2), the other two returning medalists, could meet in the quarterfinals. Stewart placed fourth at 160 a year ago, with Bell being third at 170.
Ogden (37-2) also landed in the top part of his bracket at 195 and drew a returning medalist in Upper St. Clair junior Eli Grape (33-2) in the first round. Grape placed eighth at 195 last year. The winner of that bout could get another state returnee in the quarterfinals in Council Rock South junior Joe Doyle (41-6), the Southeast champ.
The top also features returning 182-pound runner-up John Jakobsen (33-1) of Stroudsburg and North Allegheny sophomore Francis Duggan (37-5), who was sixth at 195. Those two could square off in the first round if Duggan wins his pigtail match.
The bottom half has three state returnees and two medalists in Norwin senior Drew Phipps (38-0) and Mifflin County senior Trey Hartsock (33-4). Phipps and Hartsock were third and seventh, respectively, at 195 a year ago. The pair could meet in the semifinals.
Class AAA action gets underway Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Giant Center.