Mikey Labriola repeats state title glory
Mikey Labriola said he hasn’t seen Bethlehem Catholic coach Jeff Karam tear up, but he broke him down Saturday night.
Labriola won his second straight state championship in Hershey following a 17-9 major decision over Clearfield’s Luke McGonigal in the 170-pound 3A finals, ending his Becahi career how everyone expected him to.
But one can never anticipate the emotion of the moment, no matter how far you see it coming.
“It’s upsetting to realize it’s over now,” said Labriola, who ends his Becahi career with a 166-12 record. “Coach Karam started crying and he’s been there for me since my freshman year. Last year when I won it was kind of more celebratory.
“I knew there was another state tournament for me to try and win, and another year of high school. This time it was kind of a little sad, this being the end of my high school career.”
Labriola was the only Becahi wrestler to reach the finals, as six Hawks left Hershey with hardware en route to the team finishing in second place with 96 points to team champion Nazareth (111.5).
Labriola’s victory did come with a price, however, as he sustained a head injury during a 14-8 decision in the quarterfinals against Greensburg Salem’s Alec Shaw.
Labriola and Shaw banged heads during the bout, which certainly affected the way Labriola went about business in the semifinals and finals.
“I was a little more reserved in how I wrestled the last two matches,” he said. “I just tried to keep pushing and win the match. That’s all that mattered to me. To win the match.”
Labriola will set off to Nebraska next season, but sophomore Ryan Anderson will be back for the Hawks after a third-place finish at 126.
Anderson got his first taste of the Hershey scene and soaked in every moment, including a 6-0 semifinal loss to Franklin Regional’s Spencer Lee.
After Anderson dispatched Boyertown’s Jakob Campbell 5-2 in the consolation finals, he grabbed his gear and watched history unfold during Lee’s epic 6-5 championship loss to Exeter’s Austin DeSanto.
As the Giant Center buzzed with deafening noise for the greatest upset in Pennsylvania wrestling history, Anderson had the best seat in the house mat side.
“Wasn’t this awesome,” said Anderson after watching Lee lose. “When I took a shot and got behind [Lee] in the semifinals, I don’t know why I let go. After watching the finals, I kind of feel like I should have taken him down.”
Anderson won’t have that opportunity to wrestle Lee again, but he will have two more years of attaining a state gold medal. After not making weight at districts his freshman year, his wrestling experience in Hershey showed him what could be in store a year from now.
“I bumped up a weight class because I hate cutting weight,” Anderson said. “I really never expected to take third. I expected to take fifth or sixth. I’m happy. I can’t complain. I took third and I wrestled Spencer Lee.”
Other Hawks to place in Hershey included Jarred Papcsy (132, fourth); Niko Camacho (HWT, fifth); Zach Glenn (120, seventh) and Kenny Herrmann (113, seventh).