HERSHEY — St. Mary’s Tyler Dilley and Clearfield’s Mark McGonigal finds themselves on opposite ends of the wrestling spectrum in regards to their high school careers as each prepares for the PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Championships this weekend in Hershey.
Dilley, who made state two year ago as a sophomore, is headed back to Hershey for the second time as a senior after missing all of last year due to a knee injury.
McGonigal, a freshman, is making the trip for the first on the mat but saw plenty of Hershey from the stands the past four years when older brother Luke competed at states — capping his standout Bison career with a state 195-pound title a year ago.
Dilley (32-5), the Northwest Regional runner-up, landed in a tough part of the draw in the top half of what is an overall loaded field at 132. There are 13 wrestlers in the bracket with state experience — five who have won medals.
The Dutchmen faces returning medalist Gunnar Fuss (34-4, Southeast-2nd), a senior from Harry S. Truman, in the first round. The winner likely gets a quarterfinal showdown with two-time defending state champ Sam Hillegass (38-0, Southwest-1st), a junior from North Hills.
Hillegass isn’t the only two-time state champ in the top half though, as he is joined by Northampton senior Julian Chlebove (45-3, Northeast-1st).
Chlebove, who missed last season, won state titles as a freshman and sophomore. Hillegass and Chlebove are ranked first and second, respectively, in the state entering last weekend.
The bottom half at 132 is dotted with seven returnees and a pair of returning medalists in Bethlehem Catholic junior Kenny Herrmann (27-8, Southcentral-2nd) and Latrobe junior Gabe Willochell (33-4, Southwest-2nd). Herrmann has placed fourth and seventh in Hershey, while Willichell was sixth last year.
Regional champs and state returnees Lukas Richie (33-3, Southeast) of Downintown East and Shikellamy’s Cade Balestrini (32-2, Northwest) also are in the bottom half.
As for McGonigal, he too landed in a tough section his bracket at 152 pounds.
The Bison freshman squares off against returning state qualifier Jackson Erb (37-7) of Neshaminy in the first round. The victor will most likely face Bethlehem Catholic junior Cole Handlovic (39-5, Northeast-1st) in the quarterfinals.
Handlovic, who placed sixth last year in Hershey, enters states ranked No. 1 in the state.
The bottom half at 152 also features returning fourth-place finisher Daniel Mancini (33-3, Southeast-3rd) of Owen J. Roberts and Hershey’s Tanner Updegraff (28-2), the Southcentral champ. Those two could meet in the quarterfinals.
The top half has six returnees in it, headlined by Southwest champ Cam Connor (46-2) of Kiski Area and Southeast champ Dillon Sheehy (34-9) of Council Rock North. Connor, who placed seventh last year, is ranked second in the state, while Sheehy is third.
The PIAA Class AAA Championships get underway Thursday at 4 p.m.