Ligonier wrestlers compete in state tournament
Ligonier Valley High School had three varsity wrestlers compete in the PIAA AA state championships. Freshman Robby Patrick was a state qualifier at 145 pounds and took home second place. Logan Pirl, also a freshman, was a state qualifier in the 106-pound weight class. Junior Dalton Clark qualified to wrestle in the 138-pound weight class. Each wrestler was able to win at least one match at the tournament.
Patrick went into the tournament as the second-ranked 145-pound wrestler in the state and outscored his first three opponents by a 39-11 margin. He began his run for the championship with an 18-3 technical fall. Taking on the fourth-ranked wrestler from Muncy High School, Patrick won a 10-3 decision. He then defeated his opponent from Smethport High School by a score of 11-5 in the semifinal round.
Heading into the championship round, Patrick faced the top-ranked 145-pounder in the state. The Southern Columbia senior was able to use his strong scrambling ability to score five points in the second period of the bout, on his way to a 5-0 victory over Patrick.
Patrick’s campaign is the highest place finish of any Ligonier wrestler since 1979, when Chad Menzie was a state runner-up.
“Robby had a fantastic run in the state tournament and he nearly brought home the gold. He lived up to his number two state ranking,” Ligonier Valley coach, Brian Matson said. “Although he was disappointed, I think Robby finds comfort in the fact that he has three more opportunities to ascend to the top of the podium,” Matson said.
Clark also had a strong start going into the tournament, winning an 18-3 technical fall victory at the 3:43 mark of his first bout. However, Clark lost his next two bouts 3-1 and 6-3 and exited the tournament in the consolation round.
“Despite losing two close bouts, Dalton’s junior campaign demonstrated that he was competitive with nearly all of the highly ranked individuals in his weight,” Matson said. “Looking ahead to next season, there will be high expectations for Dalton to return to Hershey and to bring home some hardware from the state tournament.”
Drawing a senior in his first bout, Pirl did not have the same initial success as his fellow Rams. He gave up a pin fall in his first matchup. However, Pirl won a 5-0 decision in the consolation round against his opponent from Cambria Heights. Pirl faced this same opponent three times this season, winning two of the match-ups. His run in the state tournament ended with a 14-0 major decision loss.
“All three of these talented young men – Robby, Dalton and Logan – will be back next season and I hope to have several of their teammates join them in collecting accolades,” Matson said.
Despite difficulties in dual matches, Matson considers this season to be extremely successful for Ligonier Valley wrestling.
“In the sport of wrestling, the success of a program can be measured in three ways; team success, individual success, or the combination of team and individual success,” Matson said. “Ligonier’s varsity team clearly has individuals that are having a great deal of success. If enough guys are willing to put in the work and join Robby, Dalton and Logan in achieving great things, the team will soon be able to rival the success of individual team members.”
Peter Turcik is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.