The 2016 Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling State Championship took place over the weekend with PA’s stars of tomorrow hitting the mats. If one thing can be taken away from the 2016 PJW Junior High State Championships it is that the future of Pennsylvania Wrestling looks very bright. Hosted in the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnston, PA the 2016 PJW State Tournament saw 18 wrestlers crowned PA State Champions.
The highlight of the event was undoubtedly North Hills wrestler Sam “The Bull” Hillegas who captured his record setting SIXTH PJW State Championship in seven years. Hillegas is now tied for second in the all-time record for number of PJW State Championships captured. Sammy joins an elite list of wrestlers who have captured multiple PJW State Championships. Hempfield Area’s Nico Cortese captured a total of EIGHT PJW State Championships which is the most ever. He is one ahead of Jefferson Morgan’s Cary Kolat who captured SEVEN PJW titles when the Pennsylvania legend competed.
At 132 lbs. Bald Eagle Area wrestler Gage McClenahan won his fifth PJW State Championship in a very talented weight-class that included Chambersburg Area wrestler Luke Nichter who he defeated in the State finals (7-0).
One of the most dominating performances of the Tournament was at 167 lbs. where Gaige Garcia (Southern Columbia Area) destroyed the competition. In his first three matches Garcia picked up three falls all in under 0:51 seconds. In the semifinals he pinned Easton Area wrestler Gernard Finney in (4:24) to advance into the PJW Junior High State Finals. There he faced 2015 PJW State Champion Dorian Crosby (Erie) and the match only lasted 0:26 seconds with Garcia picking up the fall. It was Gaige’s second career PJW State Championship having won the 2012 title at 85 lbs. in the 9 & 10 division.