HERSHEY — “One More Match.”
When Chestnut Ridge’s Jared McGill left the mat after beating Valley’s Noah Hutcherson in the PIAA Wrestling Championship 170-pound semifinal on Friday night with his third technical fall of the tournament in three matches, all his coaches and teammates said to him “One More Match.”
That is in reference to the lifetime goal of a state championship, and how that goal is within reach with one more match.
He will face a familiar foe in McGuffey’s Christian Clutter, who was a victim of McGill’s in both the Powerade Tournament final as well as the Southwest Regional final two weeks ago.
“I have to make sure that I am ready,” McGill said. “Clutter will be hungry, but I know that I’m the better wrestler. I just have to go out and do it.”
McGill is the only finalist of a group of five Bedford County wrestlers that will bring home medals from the state tournament. Joining him will be teammates Nathan Holderbaum and Kai Burkett, Bedford’s Kaden Cassidy, and Everett’s Garret Cornell.
Holderbaum and Cassidy are going for third place, while Cornell and Burkett are going for fifth.
The beginning of McGill’s semifinal did not start smoothly. He was in deep against Hutcherson with a single leg, but Hutcherson fought it off and got the opening takedown.
That was the last point of the bout for Hutcherson. McGill got an escape, a takedown on a beautiful duck-under, and two backpoints for a 5-2 lead. Hutcherson picked neutral for the second period, but McGill used another duck-under for a takedown followed by a tilt for three more backpoints.
The senior Lion followed that with a reversal and two more sets of backpoints for a technical fall, 17-2 in 5:42.
Last year, McGill lost by a point in the semifinal round, but he fought back to take third. That match has not left his mind.
“When I got down in the first, I knew I was the better wrestler and I would get points,” he said. “I just had to stay calm and chip away.
“I haven’t forgotten that match last year. I’ve been so hungry to get this ever since that match.”
The other three county wrestlers to make the semifinals were not as fortunate.
Burkett met up with undefeated freshman Levi Haines of Biglerville. Burkett was in deep for a takedown attempt, but Haines fought it off. Haines later finished on his takedown for a 2-0 lead after one period.
Haines added a takedown in the second period with two backpoints in the second period before getting another takedown in the third for an 8-0 win.
Burkett dropped his consolation semifinal bout to defending state champion Gary Steen, 6-2. Steen, who was upset in the first round, had a first-period takedown and a second-period reversal for a 4-0 lead. Burkett escaped before the end of the period, and he picked top for the third period. Steen got another reversal, while Burkett earned an escape for a 6-2 loss for Burkett.
He will wrestle Athens’ Gavin Bradley for fifth place.
Holderbaum had just as rough of a semifinal match against freshman phenom Jackson Arrington of Forest Hills. Arrington had two takedowns for a 4-1 lead after the first period and added a reversal in the second for the 6-1 win. He rode out Holderbaum in all three periods.
He took a familiar foe in East Pennsboro’s Adam Jacob, who Holderbaum beat in the first round of the tournament. Holderbaum got a first-period takedown, but Jacob got a reversal in the second for a 2-2 tie.
Jacob let Holderbaum go to start the third period, but the Lion junior got a takedown for a 5-2 lead. Jacob earned a reversal and sprung Holderbaum to make the score 6-4. Jacob got in on Holderbaum for another takedown to tie the match and probably send the match to overtime, but Jacob was called for locked hands as the buzzer sounded giving Holderbaum a 7-6 win.
Holderbaum will take on Elizabeth Forward’s Ryan Michaels for third place.
Cassidy’s semifinal match was against returning state runner-up Joshua Jones of Saucon Valley. Cassidy got the opening takedown and rode out Jones for the rest of the period.
The Bison junior picked bottom for the second period. Jones not only rode Cassidy, but nearly had some backpoints on tilts. Cassidy had a 2-0 lead going into the third period where Jones picked top. Cassidy got hit with a second stall call for a point for Jones, and soon after that, Jones got his backpoints on a tilt with 20 seconds left for two points and a 3-2 win.
Cassidy met a familiar foe in Cornell for the fourth time this year in the consolation semifinal.
After a scoreless first period, Cassidy rode out Cornell for the entire second period.
Cassidy went bottom for the third period, but in a funk position, Cassidy was call for a technical violation for a figure-four on the head of Cornell. Cassidy later escaped to tie the bout and send it to overtime.
In the sudden victory period, Cassidy got into the legs of Cornell and got the takedown to win the bout, 3-1.
Cassidy will wrestle St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s Zack Witmer for third place, which is what place Cassidy placed two years ago when he wrestled for Bishop McCort.
Cornell will take on Northwestern’s John Wheeler for fifth place.
The Everett senior got to the consolation semifinals with a win over Joe Hester of Montrose.
After a scoreless first period, Cornell used a head-spin into a cradle for a reversal and a 2-0 lead. Hester went neutral or the third period, and the Montrose wrestler got a takedown to tie the bout.
After springing Cornell for an escape, Hester got taken down by Cornell for a 5-2 lead. Cornell was hit for stalling for the second time, but he held on for the 5-3 win.
The four semifinalists used a variety of nearfall points to help them earn the victories in the quarterfinals. Burkett and Holderbaum earned close wins, while Cassidy and McGill had easy wins.
Burkett took on Pope John Paul II’s Matt Vulakh, a returning AAA state placewinner that upset defending state champion Steen on Thursday. After a scoreless first period, Burkett got a reversal to start the second period. He eventually got to the wrists of Vulakh and tilted him to his back for two backpoints and a 4-0 lead.
Vulakh picked neutral in the third period, and he got a takedown late in the period, which wasn’t enough as Burkett held on for a 4-2 win.
Holderbaum had to rally from a big deficit against Bald Eagle Area’s Cooper Gilham. Gilham came out on the winning end of a funk roll, and he hooked a cradle to turn the Lion junior to his back.
However, Holderbaum broke the hold to get the reversal and put Gilham on his back, where he remained for the rest of the period for a 5-5 tie.
After Holderbaum rode out out the BEA wrestler in the second period, Holderbaum got a reversal to take the lead. Gilham added an escape with five seconds left in the period, but Holderbaum took away the 7-6 win.
At 132 pounds, Cassidy took on Northwestern’s John Wheeler. After a scoreless first period, Cassidy picked bottom and immediately reversed Wheeler with a switch. He added a tilt for a 4-0 lead.
Wheeler got two points back on a reversal, but Cassidy answered with another reversal and two more backpoints on a tilt for an 8-2 lead.
Wheeler chose neutral for the third period, and Cassidy finished a double leg for a takedown and got two more backpoints on a tilt. Wheeler escaped to set the final at 12-3.
McGill dominated Notre Dame Green Pond’s Isaiah DeJesus from the start in their 170-pound quarterfinal. He took DeJesus down immediately, and he put DeJesus on his back with a chicken-wing tilt tor a 5-0 lead after one period. DeJesus picked neutral for the second period, but another McGill takedown led to another tilt for three more backpoints and a 10-0 lead.
DeJesus got a reversal, but McGill escaped and took down DeJesus for a 13-2 lead after two periods.
McGill added an escape and two takedowns in the third period for an 18-3 major decision in 5:27.
Cornell was the only local wrestler to fall in the quarterfinals. He was taken down by Witmer in the first period on a double leg that worked into a funk position. Cornell escaped to cut the deficit to 2-1. Witmer got an escape in the second period, but in the third period, Witmer got hit with his second stalling call to give Cornell a point.
However, that was all the scoring in the contest in a 3-2 win for Witmer.
Cornell dropped to the consolation round where he needed a win to secure his second state medal.
The Everett senior got taken down again in the first period, this time by Ellwood City’s Donavin Chambers, but Cornell got an escape. The Warrior added another escape in the second period and rode Chambers out in the third period to send the bout to overtime.
Cornell threw Chambers to his back in the sudden victory period and recorded a fall in 5:40 to get into the medal round.
While five of the county’s wrestlers will come home with medals, three lost in their first matches on Friday to knock them out of the tournament. Seniors Austin Mowry of Northern Bedford and Damon Lemin of Tussey Mountain as well as junior Duane Knisely of Chestnut Ridge came up two wins shy of getting on the medal stand.
All three of them won a bout in their first trip to states.
Knisely and Mowry had heartbreaking losses. Knisely battled Hopewell’s Connor Forrest to a 1-1 tie in regulation in a 220-pound second-round consolation bout. Knisely, who just missed several takedown attempts and was the aggressor for most of bout, picked bottom for the first tiebreaker round after a scoreless first period of overtime.
Knisely tried to sit out, and as he did, Forrest threw him to his back, stepped over Knisely, and pinned him in 6:20 to end the Lions’ season.
The Ridge junior ends the year with a 35-8 record.
Mowry had Reynolds’ Cole Toy in the 160-pound second-round consolation bout. Toy got a takedown for the only points of the first period. Toy picked bottom of the second period, and Mowry worked a turk in to turn Toy to his back. Mowry moved up and had Toy fighting off the pin for almost a minute of the period with Mowry earning three backpoints.
Toy got off his back, and he earned a reversal to take a 4-3 lead into the third period. Mowry got an escape to tie the bout, but later in the period, Toy took down Mowry for the go-ahead points in a 6-4 victory.
Mowry ends his season with a 29-9 record.
Lemin got behind early in his second-round consolation bout with Coudersport’s Elijah Ayers. Ayers got Lemin off balance and tossed him to his back for a five-point move in the first period of the 195-pound bout.
Lemin got an escape in the second period, but Ayers got an escape and a late takedown to secure an 8-1 win.
The Tussey Mountain senior also had a 29-9 record.
The medal round of wrestling will take place on Saturday starting at 2 p.m.
A complete rundown of results from Friday’s wrestling action can be seen on Page A9.