Going for the gold: McGill, McMillen advance to finals

Glendale’s Brock McMillen takes control against Bronson Garber of Upper Dauphin in his quarterfinal victory. / Photo for the Mirror by Tami Knopsnyder

HERSHEY — When he gave up the opening takedown in his Friday night semifinal against Valley’s Noah Hutcherson, Chestnut Ridge’s Jared McGill didn’t think about last year’s PIAA Class 2A Championships.

He didn’t think about when he gave up an early five-point move to Port Allegheny’s Jacob Kallenborn and eventually lost, 8-7, in the semis en route to finishing third.

“I’ve been taken down before in the practice room and taken down at Powerade,” McGill said, “so I’m over that hump where maybe I get taken down or I’m losing and I start freaking out.”

Instead, he just continued his bulldozing through this year’s state tournament at the Giant Center.

McGill responded to the early takedown by roaring to a 17-2 technical fall in 5:42 to reach today’s 170-pound championship finals, which are slated for 2 p.m.

“Last year, I came out of here with a disappointment. It was the worst feeling of my life,” McGill said. “Ever since that moment, I’ve been working as hard as I can, just thinking about that last match. Even though I got taken down first, I knew I was a lot better than the kid. I just needed to relax and keep scoring.”

It was his third technical fall in as many bouts in the tournament. McGill rolled to an 18-3 technical fall over Notre Dame-Green Pond’s Isaiah DeJesus in 5:27 in the quarterfinals earlier in the day.

“I envisioned the tournament to be like this, just come out and be dominant,” McGill said. “Whoever I have for the next round, I just want to keep scoring points and put a lot of points on the board.”

“He’s wrestling well,” Ridge coach Greg Lazor said. “He’s teched his way through so far, being aggressive, being smart, scoring a lot of points and having some fun out there.”

Glendale 126-pound sophomore Brock McMillen is returning to the state finals after settling for second there last year. He earned a couple harrowing 3-2 decisions over Upper Dauphin’s Bronson Garber in the semifinals and Notre Dame GP’s Brandan Chletsos in the quarterfinals.

“It feels good to get back to the finals again,” McMillen said.

Four other area wrestlers – Ridge’s Kai Burkett (106) and Nate Holderbaum (113), Bedford’s Kaden Cassidy (132) and Penn Cambria’s Derek Brown (170) — lost in the semifinals and are wrestling for at least sixth place today.

Holderbaum, Cassidy and Brown are wrestling for third. Burkett, Everett’s Garret Cornell (132), Portage’s Cole Sossong (160) and Glendale’s Cory Johnston (220) are wrestling for fifth.

Philipsburg’s Chase Chapman (132) and Hunter Weitoish (152), Glendale’s Suds Dubler (106) and Penn Cambria’s Chase Proudfit (126) were all eliminated one win shy of making the medal rounds.

Tyrone’s Hunter Walk (113), Huntingdon’s Myles Baney (170), Northern Bedford’s Austin Mowry (170), Penn Cambria’s J.C. Smychynsky (182), Bellwood-Antis’ Trentin Whaley (195), Tussey Mountain’s Damon Lemin (195) and Ridge’s Duane Knisely (220) were eliminated in the second round of consolations – two wins shy of the medal rounds.

After giving up the takedown in the first period, McGill escaped, got a takedown of his own and scored two nearfall points for a 5-2 lead.

“The biggest thing I was impressed by was he gave up a takedown,” Lazor said, “but instead of letting that bother him, he just went back to work and knew that two points weren’t going to be enough against him.”

He got another takedown in the second, tilted Hutcherson for three points and a 10-2 lead after two.

In the third, he scored a reversal, scored three nearfall points off a tilt and tilted again to get the technical fall.

The 39-0 McGill, a three-time placewinner, will face a familiar foe in McGuffey’s Christian Clutter (43-3) in the finals. Clutter reached the finals with a 3-2 win over Brown. McGill eked out a win over Clutter at Powerade, but he blew him away in the Southwest Regional finals.

“Clutter is tough, obviously a great athlete,” Lazor said. “He’ll have to wrestle smart and try not to force things. Hopefully he comes out on top.”

McMillen made a first-period takedown and third-period stand in his 3-2 win over Chletsos.

In the semifinals, McMillen escaped immediately in the third to take the 3-2 lead. In the last 20 seconds, Garber was in on a takedown attempt and looked like he might get it, but McMillen fought it off and held on for the win.

“The fans all get nervous, but I felt pretty confident,” McMillen said. “I’ve been in that scramble a lot of times in matches and in practice, so I felt kind of comfortable there. It’s all about winning at this point. You don’t want them to be close, but sometimes they have to be.”

“I see him practice that a lot,” Glendale coach Billy Dubler said. “He’s good in that position. He’s confident in that position. But it doesn’t mean I feel good in that position. When I see his legs up in the air, I get a little nervous. He’s been there a million times. It’s definitely not a position where he wants to be, but if he has to be, he knows how to wrestle there.”

McMillen (42-1) will face off against Bishop McDevitt’s Chase Shields (29-3), the Southeast champion who beat Derry Area’s Tyler Cymmerman in the semifinals.

McMillen, who lost to Mount Union’s Josh Boozel in last year’s finals, will be looking to become Glendale’s first state champion.

“Brock’s going to be even more laser-focused in the finals tomorrow,” Dubler said. “He’s doing a great job. He’s confident, and he’s well conditioned. I’m just happy to be back to the finals. I’m excited. He could be Glendale’s first state champ. I think he’s going to do it.”

Holderbaum has had the tournament of his career. After beating Bald Eagle Area’s Cooper Gilham, 7-6, in the quarterfinals, he dropped a 6-1 decision to Forest Hills’ Jackson Arrington.

He came back with a 7-6 win over East Pennsboro’s Adam Jacob, getting an interlocking point in the last couple seconds to win it.

“That was very dumb on my part to take a shot when I was up by two,” Holderbaum said. “But everything happens for a reason, I guess.”

Cassidy, who lost to Saucon Valley’s Joshua Jones, 3-2 in the semifinals, reached the third-place bout with a 3-1 overtime win over Everett rival Cornell.

After losing to Clutter, Brown responded with a pin of Kutztown’s Tyler Fisher in 1:49.