Chestnut Ridge’s Jared McGill earns state semifinal berth with a win over state champion Creighton Edsell

HERSHEY: Chestnut Ridge thumper Jared McGill knew what was in front of him if he was going to complete his run to a state title.

Getting to the finals was going to be a tough task. Not that McGill is a longshot or even an underdog, but to get a spot in the semifinals was a tall order against a returning state champion.

Standing across the mat in Friday’s PIAA Class 2A Wrestling Championship quarterfinal round was a familiar foe in Wyalusing senior Creighton Edsell, the 160-pound champ a year ago. And even though McGill owned a 6-4 triumph over Edsel during the summer, this was a different stage with more on the line.

The moment wasn’t lost on McGill, but it didn’t affect his performance. The 160-pound Lions junior dictated the pace and was superior over the six-minute match, earning a 4-2 decision to punch his ticket to Friday’s 7:30 semifinal round.

“I knew he was tough and that he was a good wrestler,” said McGill, who wrestled 170 a year ago to help his team. “I just knew if I went out there, kept the pace going, got off my shots, was tough on top, that I was going to win.

“I think we are both really good, but I worked a lot over the summer, and I’m glad I came out on top. The next goal is to be a state champ.”

Two more hurdles to go.

If McGill, ranked No. 2 in the state according to PA Power Wrestling, starts as quick in his other matches as he did against Edsell, he will be in good shape.

The Lions ace took the action to his opponent off the opening whistle and scored off a scramble 30 into the match. That was huge. It set the tone for match, and it seemed like Edsell, who fought off the takedown as long as he could, was never able to recover despite getting an escape and only trailing 2-1 after one period.

“He’s a state champ, so he knows what he is doing,” McGill said. “A state champ needs good defense, and you need to have good leg defense to win states. I got to finish that stuff.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match, and I knew if I kept the pace up, keep shooting, keep shooting, keep shooting, I was going to win.”

McGill chose bottom to the start the second and struggled to escape. Edsell, the No. 4-ranked wrestler in the state, almost secured back points at the one-minute mark, but McGill fought off the assault.

With just over 20 seconds left, McGill struck. He slipped out of Edsell’s grasp and scored a reversal to go up 4-1 at the end of four minutes.

“Reversals are huge,” McGill said. “That’s what I normally go for. I usually try to get a reversal to their back, and I almost did.

“I had him in a Turk, but my arms were tired. He was tough on top. He rode me for over a minute. I haven’t been ridden like that all year, so maybe I need to work on some stuff on bottom.”

McGill was good on top, as well, in the third. He was able to counter Edsell’s attempts to escape and killed off 1:30 in the period.

That drained Edsell, who finally escaped with roughly 20 seconds left. The Wyalusing star took a desperation shot near the finish, which McGill easily fought off to secure the satisfying win.

“He was broke, there,” McGill said. “He didn’t do much on bottom for like 30 seconds. I got called for a stall … I mean, I was hanging on, but he wasn’t doing much, either. That call could have went either way.

“That was huge, because when he got out, there was like 20 seconds left, and he was tired. He took one bad shot, and I stopped it and hung in there. I’m just happy I came out with the win.”

It’s state title or bust for McGill, but he isn’t concerned about Saturday just yet. First, he has to get past Port Allegheny’s Jacob Kallenborn, who defeated Athens’ Nate Bradley via a 5-4 decision, to earn a spot in the finals.

“I’m going to go back to the hotel, regroup, work on some stuff, talk to coach, and get ready for the next match,” McGill said. “One match at a time to be a state champ.

“Anyone can be beaten, and it’s one match at a time. You got to go out there and wrestle your best and have fun. When I saw the draw, I knew I had to beat a state champ to be a state champ, and I went out there and got it done.”

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