McMillen, McGill each live up to expectations
Glendale 126-pound sophomore Brock McMillen and Chestnut Ridge 170-pound senior Jared McGill were expected to win state titles this season.
McMillen was a returning state runner-up, and McGill was a three-time state placewinner who was very motivated after suffering a shocking loss in the semifinals at Hershey as a junior.
They both came into this year’s PIAA Class 2A Championships ranked No. 1 at their respective weights by PA Power Wrestling.
And then they lived up to the expectations by winning state titles. McMillen beat Bishop McDevitt’s Chase Shields, 3-2, in the finals to become Glendale’s first state champion. Mc-Gill downed McGuffey’s Christian Clutter, 8-2, in his title bout.
They have been named the Mirror’s Co-Wrestlers of the Year on the 36thannual all-star team for their accomplishments.
“I think that’s great,” Glendale coach Billy Dubler said. “It’s awesome to have two state champs in our area. Brock deserves it. Being a state champ has been something he’s been working on for a lot of years. It’s neat to get recognition as just a sophomore. It’s exciting for him. It’s exciting for me as a coach. It brings a good spotlight to Brock and the Glendale area. It’s a big deal for the whole community.”
“Absolutely well deserved,” said Greg Lazor, the Mirror Coach of the Year who recently announced his resignation at Ridge. “He’s a young boy who has busted his tail and did everything he could ever since he was 5 years old. (The state title) eluded him last year, but this year, he made it a mission there’s no way he was going to be stopped, and he wrestled like that.”
McGill is the third Ridge wrestler to be named the Mirror’s Wrestler of the Year, joining former teammate Justin McCoy (last season) and Gary Pfahler (2007-2008). McMillen is only the second Glendale wrestler to earn the honor, with Brian McGarvey (1993-94) being the first.
McGill and McMillen handled the pressure of being the favorites like they handled most of their opponents. McGill went 40-0, being the only area wrestler to go undefeated, and McMillen went 43-1.
“To go through our schedule and to be undefeated is truly remarkable because we have one of the toughest schedules you could possibly have, especially being a small school like we are,” Lazor said. “Last year, he about went undefeated, except for that one slip at states. He’s had an unbelievable run of two years here.”
“I think he handled the pressure really well,” Dubler said. “When he came in as a freshman, he was convinced he was going to be a four-time state champion. That was his goal. A lot of freshman come in and set high goals, but they don’t really say ‘I’m going to be a state champion.’ They say ‘I want to be a state champion.’
“Brock is looking forward to the next level, so these are stepping stones to him. He may still be upset that he didn’t win it last year. Nothing changed at all from last year to this year. He just stayed the course and he repeated everything he did the year before, except that he did it a little better.”
McGill, a four-time District 5 champion and two-time Southwest Regional champ, posted a career record of 161-16, which is second only on the program and Mirror career win list to McCoy’s 167 wins.
McGill breezed through the postseason, with only two non-bonus point decisions, both to Clutter. He had three technical falls at Hershey and outscored his opponents 59-7. A relieved and excited McGill jumped into Lazor’s arms after winning his state title.
“It feels amazing to be a part of Justin McCoy and Chestnut Ridge High School,” McGill said after winning the state title. “It’s finally a great moment to put that gold medal around my neck.”
McMillen, who was second to Mount Union’s Josh Boozel at 113 in the District 6 Tournament, Southwest Regional and states last season, won district and regional titles and earned three straight 3-2 decisions to close out the state tournament. McMillen pumped both of his fists and hugged Dubler after winning his state gold medal.
“I really don’t get too emotional,” McMillen said, “but after what I went through last year, it felt really good. Nothing really changed (in the offseason). I trained just how I would at any other time, maybe a little bit harder because I had that (state finals) match in mind.”
McGill will continue his wrestling career at Pitt, while McMillen, who is 84-5 in his career, will look to win a second gold medal next season.
“He hasn’t reached his peak yet,” Dubler said. “He’s still getting better. I think he can get a lot better. He didn’t even show his top game at the state tournament. He’s good on top, and he hasn’t shown it yet. He’s going to continue to get stronger, and as he gets stronger, he’s going to get better.
“The only thing I noticed differently about Brock this year is he was more outspoken in the wrestling room. As far as practice and effort, he’s always trying to improve himself technically, and he’s always trying to improve himself physically.”