CLARION, Pa. – Nine Wrestlers won PIAA titles during the decade including six in Class 2A and three in Class 3A. Of those nine, three recorded two falls on their way to the title in the PIAA bracket, while six finished with unbeaten records.
(Photo of Brookville’s Colby Whitehill. Photo by Jared Bakaysa of JB Graphics. See more of Bakaysa’s work here)
Taking all that into consideration, here are the Top nine performances at the PIAA championships for District 9 wrestlers in the decade.
With the end of the decade of the 2010s comes the end of a strong decade for District 9 wrestling.
Nine District 9 wrestlers won PIAA championships during the decade led by Brookville, which crowned four PIAA champions in the decade, not to mention a pair of PIAA team titles in 2016.
The year 2014 was a banner year for District 9 with three wrestlers taking home Class 2A titles.
Here is a look back at the PIAA wrestling champions from District 9 during the decade.
BROCK ZACHERL, BROOKVILLE: 2014 Class 2A 138 pounds
Zacherl capped a strong senior season by winning the PIAA title at 138 pounds to finish 41-2 on the year.
At the PIAA championships, he had an easy go in the opening round winning by technical fall before picking up wins of 14-2 in the quarterfinals and 12-0 in the semifinals to reach the championship bout where Southern Columbia’s Kent Lane, 8-1.
Zacherl has gone on to an outstanding career at Clarion University making the NCAA Championships in 2016, 2017 and 2018 while winning an EWL title at 141 pounds in 2016. An injury cut short his 2019 campaign, but the NCAA awarded him a sixth-year of eligibility (he red-shirted as a freshman in 2015) and he is 10-3 on the year. Including his red-shirt campaign, he is 136-22 in his collegiate career including 102-16 wrestling attached.
KYLE BOVA, COUDERSPORT: 2014 Class 2A 160 pounds
Bova completed a perfect 36-0 record his senior year capping it off the with the PIAA championship at 160 pounds.
The title almost didn’t happen, as, following a first-round pin, Bova found himself in a fight for his wrestling life in the quarterfinals against Jeric Kasunic of Benton. But Bova prevailed, 3-1 in overtime, then won 16-5 in the semifinals before dispatching Jared Walker of South Fayette, 9-0, in the champion bout.
Bova wrestled one season at Lock Haven University as an unattached wrestler red-shirting and went 16-10.
EVAN DELONG, KANE: 2014 Class 2A 170 pounds
Delong completed a perfect 36-0 season with an easy run to the PIAA title at 170 pounds.
Barely tested at the PIAA championships, Delong won a first-round bout by technical fall (17-2) then took home wins of 13-6 and 9-3 to reach the championship against Nico Pecora, the son of legendary Pitt-Johnstown wrestling coach Pat Pecora. Pecora was no match for Delong, with the Kane senior picking up a 12-3 win to win the title and complete his perfect season.
Delong went on to wrestle at Clarion University where he qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2019. He was also named the Outstanding Wrestler at the 2017 PSAC Championships. Including his redshirt season in 2018, he was 84-60 in his collegiate career including going 66-56 when wrestling for the Golden Eagles.
TAYLOR ORTZ, BROOKVILLE: 2016 Class 2A 132 pounds
Ortz helped Brookville to both the PIAA Class 2A dual meet championship and team title at the individual championships in 2016 by going a perfect 44-0.
That perfect season, like Bova’s, almost came to an end in the PIAA quarterfinals.
After scoring a 15-0 technical fall in the opening round of the championships, Ortz scrapped out a 5-3 victory in the semifinals over Todd Lane of Southern Columbia. Then in the semifinals, in a match that will be forever remembered, Ortz won a thrilling 2-1 overtime tiebreaker bout over Palisades Jacob Wasser before dispatching John Pipa of Bishop McDevitt, 7-2, in the championship bout.
Wrestling at Clarion University, Ortz qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2018 going 26-12 that season. He redshirted as a freshman and has battled injuries the last two seasons. He is currently 2-4 this season and 49-29 in his collegiate career, including a 13-8 mark as an unattached wrestler in 2017.
KALEB YOUNG, PUNXSUTAWNEY, 2016 Class 3A 160 pounds
Young, one of just three Class 3A champions during the decade for District 9, went a perfect 37-0 in 2016 while winning at 160 pounds.
In an exciting champion bout that season, Young defeated Mifflin County’s Trent Hidlay for the title. The two had squared off at the Regional championship with Young getting a 2-1 victory. It was more of the same at the state championship with Hidlay taking an early 2-0 lead before Young tied things at two late in the first period. An escape in the second period put Hidlay ahead 3-2, but Young got a takedown with 17 seconds left in the second period to go ahead for good, 4-3, before ending the scoring with an early escape in the third period. He finished his career 116-8 at Punxsutawney.
Getting to the title bout was easy for Young, as he won his first two bouts at the PIAA championships by fall before taking home a 16-4 decision in the semifinals.
Young is an outstanding wrestler at the University of Iowa and is fresh off winning a championship at the Midlands Championships. In 2019, he earned All-American honors at 157 pounds at the NCAA Championships by taking fifth place.
The win this year at Midlands improved Young to 7-2 on the year, and he is 61-22 in his collegiate career including going 21-6 in 2017 when he redshirted.
GAVIN PARK, BROOKVILLE: 2017 Class 2A 120 pounds
Perhaps the biggest surprise champion during the decade based on where he stood at Christmas, Park completed a magical campaign with a 43-3 record.
The road to the championship in Hershey was anything but easy despite a pair of falls in his first two bouts at the Giant Center.
In the semifinals, Park needed a 10-9 win over Colin Pasone of E.L. Myers to reach the championship bout against Cole Rhone of Benton.
Late in the first period, Park took a 2-0 lead with a takedown late in the first period. But Rhone halved the lead with an escape early in the second then scored again to put Park down, 3-2. But Park escaped late in the second to tie the bout at 3-3. Rhone conceded an escape early in the third period, and Park didn’t give him a chance to score winning the title with a 4-3 victory.
In three years at Clarion University, Park is 21-31 with his best season coming as a freshman when he went 19-15. He was injured in just his second bout of this year at the Cleveland State Open.
LUKE MCGONIGAL, CLEARFIELD: 2018 Class 3A 195 pounds
Another Class 3A champion, McGonigal won the title at 195 pounds in 2018 by finishing with a mark of 35-1.
His run through the championship bracket was an impressive one and started with a 16-1 technical fall and then his closest bout of the PIAA tournament, a 13-3 victory in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals, McGonigal needed just 1:10 to pin Dorian Crosby of Erie Cathedral Prep. Then in the championship bout he took just 1:37 to pin Cole Urbas of State College.
McGonigal spent his freshman season in 2019 at Lock Haven going 14-8 with a PSAC Championship at 197 pounds before transferring to Mercyhurst for this season. He is 11-5 with the Lakers.
ED SCOTT, DUBOIS: 2019 Class 3A 138 pounds
One of two underclassmen from District 9 to win a state title during the decade, Scott was the third Class 3A wrestler to earn a title taking home a championship at 138 pounds with a perfect 39-0 junior season in 2019.
Scott’s run to the title started with a pin in the opening round before he recorded two tight bouts in the quarterfinals, 5-4 over Antonio Petrucelli of Owen J. Roberts, and the semifinals, 6-4 over Devon Britton of Northampton. In the championship bout, it was another fall, this one in 3:25 over Dashawn Farber of Nazareth to win the title.
Scott, a North Carolina State commit, started his senior wrestling season by taking second at the college-level Clarion Open losing to Zacherl of all people and is currently 11-0 during the high school season giving him 50 consecutive wins. He is 122-6 in his high school career.
COLBY WHITEHILL, BROOKVILLE: 2019 Class 2A 285 pounds
The second underclassman to win a state title, Whitehill took home the championship as a junior in 2019 winning the Class 2A title at heavyweight (285 pounds) with a perfect 39-0 record.
Whitehill, as is typical of the big boys, had to slog his way to the title.
After an opening-round pin, Whitehill won 5-3 in the quarterfinals over Jalen Stephens of Meyersdale. He then beat Lear Quinton of Southern Columbia, 6-4, in the semifinals before ousting Jake Ryan of Mount Union, 5-2, in the championship bout.
This season, Whitehill, a Pitt recruit, is 12-0 giving him 51 straight wins, and he is 104-13 in his career.