HERSHEY — The Tri-County Area had five wrestlers make the trek to Hershey for the PIAA Class AAA Championships, and three of those local competitors made it out of Day 1 to keep alive their hopes of winning a state medal.
Two are wrestlers — DuBois senior Kolby Ho and Clearfield senior Luke McGonigal — both looked sharp in convincing first-round victories to reach today’s quarterfinals at their respective weights.
After that, it was a tough day for the local contingent.
DuBois sophomore Ed Scott, a returning third-place medalist, lost a tough opener but received a bye into today’s second round of consolations. Clearfield senior Hunter Wright and St. Marys senior Zac Becker weren’t so lucky, as each saw their high school careers come to and end with 0-2 days.
Let’s take a closer look at the area’s day at the Class AAA tournament.
DuBois’ Ho wins, Scott falls
DuBois’ weekend in Hershey got off to a rocky start as sophomore standout Scott suffered a close 6-4 setback to Latrobe sophmore Gabe Willochell (33-6) in the first round at 126 pounds.
Scott (33-3), a two-time Northwest Region champ, opened the scoring with a first-period takedown. The Beaver chose bottom in the second and reversed Willochell just past the midway point of the period to go up 4-0.
It appeared Scott would ride out the Wildcat in the remainder of the period, but Willochell changed the complexion of the match when he reversed Scott to his back for a five-point move in the final 12 seconds to take a one-point lead.
Scott fought off the pin but never seemed to quite recover from the move. Willochell added an escape in the third period to go up 6-4 with 1:26 remaining, and Scott was never able to get inside the Wildcat’s defenses for a takedown to force overtime.
Scott must now take the long road back if he hopes to land on the podium. That journey starts this afternoon with a second-round consolation bout against Parkland senior Nick Dolak (22-8).
As for Ho (33-4), he looked sharp in a convincing 14-4 major decision against Neshaminy junior Jackson Erb (36-4). Ho scored a pair of takedowns in the first period to rab a 4-1 lead, then poured it on in the second with three more takedowns for an 11-3 advantage.
Erb escaped from the bottom in the third, but Ho finished off his victory with a point on an interlocking call and his sixth takedown of the match.
With the win, Ho advances to battle Southwest Regional runner-up Jode Chishko (35-7), a senior from Penn-Trafford, in the 145-pound quarterfinals. The two meet earlier this year in the quarterfinals at the Powerade Tournament — a match Ho won 8-6.
Clearfield’s McGonigal wins, Wright eliminated
McGonigal (31-1), fresh off his first loss of the season in last weekend’s Northwest Regional final, came out aggressive from the start against Chartiers Valley senior Shamil Zaynullaev.
The Bison scored a takedown just 26 seconds into the match, then turned Zaynullaev twice for backpoints to lead 8-0 after one period. He matched that point total in the second period, collecting an escape, two takedowns and three nearfall points. His second takedown of the period ended the 16-1 victory in 3:37.
McGonigal will square off against Southeast Regional champ Elijah Jones (40-3) in today’s quarterfinals in a matchup of returning state medalists. McGonigal was second at 170 last year, while Jones was fifth at 182. Jones pinned Hazleton junior Shane Noonan in 2:27 in his first-round bout Thursday.
As for Wright (28-13), he dropped an 8-4 decision to Dallastown junior Jarrett Feeney (34-10) in a 160-pound pigtail bout before suffering a wild and hearbreaking 6-5 loss to Spring Grove junior Anthony Hinson (39-5) in the consy bracket.
Wright hit a big five-point move late in the first period against Hinson and took a 5-2 lead into the third period.
That’s when things unravelled for Wright. He chose bottom, and while he never escaped or was turned by Hinson, he still finished on the losing end.
Wright was called for stalling three times in the third, giving Hinson two points. Wright argued the third stall call while the match was ongoing, and the referee hit him with a two-point unsportsmanlike conduct call with 20 seconds left.
The Bison made a late push for an escape, or even a reversal to win the match, but Hinson held on as the late penalty call against Wright ended up being the decisive points.
St. Marys’ Becker bow out
Coming off a strong showing at regionals, Becler (32-7) saw his Dutchmen career come to and end with a pair of setbacks Thursday.
He struggled to get any offense going in a 14-0 major decision loss to Bethel Park senior Jason Montgomery (34-4) in their 170-pound first-round bout. Montgomery isa returning seven-place medalist.
That loss dropped Becker in the consolation bracket where he lost a tough 5-4 contest to Council Rock South junior Nik Korbich (38-12).
Becker jumped out to the early lead on a takedown just past the midway point of the first period, but Korbich countered with an escape to trail 2-1 after one. Becker started down in the second and escaped 17 second in to go up 3-1, but Korbich recorded a takedown with 12 ticks left to eve things at 3-3 after two periods.
Korbich chose bottom in the third and took the lead for the first time in the bouton a reversal with 1:30 remaining. Becker fought for a late escape, but it wasn’t enough as Korbich held on for the win to stay alive in Hershey.