McCoy, McClellan cap banner careers

Chestnut Ridge’s Justin McCoy’s run to the 152-pound finals of the PIAA Class 2A Championships was predictable, dominating opponents the way a returning state champion should.

His shocking 8-1 loss to Frazier’s Thayne Lawrence, whom he had majored, 10-1, at the Southwest Regional, was unpredictable.

Altoona’s Parker McClellan’s run to the 220-pound finals of the state Class 3A tournament was unpredictable. Nobody outside of the Altoona circle predicted that McClellan, a Northwest Regional runner-up, would make the finals. He did, though, and dropped a 7-5 decision to Sun Valley sophomore Hunter Catka.

“Going into each match, I knew what I needed to do, and I had a game plan for each match,” McClellan said. “Two of the guys I wrestled, I wrestled before during the season, so I knew what I needed to do to beat them. And I just went out and did it. People might not have expected me to make it there, but I did everything right to make it there.”

“I’d love to go back,” McCoy said, “but I’m thankful that it’s God’s plan. Maybe it will work out at (the University of) Virginia. Maybe it’s some fuel to go harder and try to do better at Virginia.” Both have been named Mirror Wrestlers of the Year for 2017-18. McCoy is only the second Ridge wrestler to be named Wrestler of the Year, with the late Gary Pfhaler being recognized in 2007-08. McClellan is the fifth Mountain Lion to be honored.

“It’s awesome,” McCoy said. “It’s an honor and a privilege, and I’m thankful that you guys gave me this opportunity.”

“I think it’s pretty awesome,” McClellan said. “Just placing at states and placing in the top two is amazing, and this to top it off is even better.”

Glendale freshman Brock McMillen, the third area state runner-up, will be a favorite to be named the Mirror Wrestler of the Year next season.

What’s it been like since earning respective silver medals in Hershey two weeks ago?

“I’m still practicing and I’m lifting a lot more now. I’ve eaten a lot more, I guess,” McClellan said. “I ate a lot during the season, but now I’m eating even more.”

“It’s been fun,” McCoy said. “I had a lot of people still saying congratulations just like last year. I’m thankful for all of the opportunities that I’ve gotten. I’m thankful for a healthy career, actually. I didn’t have any major injuries.”

He didn’t say anything about it at the time, but McCoy, who went 45-2 with an area-leading 26 falls this year and set program career marks with a 167-18 record and 80 pins, wrestled at states with an elbow injury. He would be wrestling at this weekend’s NHSCA Senior Nationals, but he’s resting the elbow.

“It’s not much. It’s not an excuse or anything,” McCoy said. “I hurt it at regionals, and I tried to rest it. I feel that it didn’t hold me back at states, and it’s not why I lost. I’m just trying to heal it up. I’m doing some physical therapy. I was thinking about (going to NHSCA Nationals), but I’m going to try to rest it and hopefully be good for Flo Nationals.”

McCoy became the third Ridge wrestler to win four District 5 titles, captured his second Southwest Regional title and is the first in program history to earn four state medals.

“It was great being able to get four district titles,” McCoy said. “I wish I could have won states this year, but you can’t take it back. I think it’s God’s plan for me, so I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, and people have been telling me it doesn’t matter and they’re still proud of me.”

“With our schedule, you’re always going to be challenged, and you’re always going to be faced with adversity,” Ridge coach Greg Lazor, named the Mirror’s Coach of the Year for the fifth time. “One thing about him is he faces adversity better than anyone I know. Both guys are trying to win. It doesn’t change anything in his career. He’s been one of the best guys I’ve ever seen around this area, or any area for that matter.”

McClellan, who moved up to 220 late in the season, went 30-6 with 15 pins, captured his second District 6 Class 3A title and finished second at the Northwest Regional for the second time. He then made his magical run to the finals, including a 4-3 tiebreaker win over Shippensburg’s 36-0 Cole Forrester in the semifinals. Forrester beat McClellan, 9-4, at the Ultimate Warrior Tournament.

“There’s not too many times in your life that you get to accomplish your goals,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. “He achieved his. His goal was to be a state placewinner, and he did it. He almost got all of the way to becoming a state champion. We’re real proud of the way he competes out there and what he’s done for the program for the last four years.”

Both McCoy and McClellan (105-34 career record) will continue their careers at the college level. McCoy will wrestle at Virginia, while McClellan’s school is undecided. He’ll be visiting Lock Haven and Clarion, as well as a couple of other unnamed schools.

“I’m not really sure where I’m going to end up,” McClellan said, “but hopefully I figure that out soon. I’m excited to see what I can do at the next level.”