By Sam Hetrick, news editor
Having won sectional, district, regional and super regional championships, Saegertown junior Hunter Robison has one last title to claim: state champion.
Robison won the PIAA Class 2A West Super Regional title at 106 pounds this past weekend. That title guaranteed Robison a medal and spot at the PIAA Individual Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey.
The first round begins at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. You can listen to Robison’s progress at wjpa.com/wrestling. Robison’s first match is against Conwell Egan freshman Steven Harris (14-3).
Robison (22-1) is one of three Saegertown wrestlers to earn a state medal this year. Due to COVID-19, the PIAA added a Super Regional tournament after regionals. In previous years, wrestlers punched their tickets to states based on their regional tournament performance.
Senior Jaden Reagle and junior Landon Caldwell won’t be competing Friday at the state tournament, but both came within one win of states based on their Super Regional performances. In previous years, the top 16 from each weight class reached states. This year, just the top 8 made it, and all eight are guaranteed a medal.
“I’m disappointed that Landon Caldwell and Jaden Reagle aren’t wrestling in the Giant Center because they’re top 12 in the state,” Mulligan said. “They’re going down in history as PIAA state qualifiers. They were a match away. It’s unfortunate.”
In previous years, the state tournament took three days to compete. This year, it’s just one day. Mulligan feels that format will help grapplers like Robison.
“The kids love how the process is right now,” Mulligan said. “It’s a one-day tournament. Studs like that.”
Robison is one of the favorites to win the state title. Similar to the Super Regional tournament, Robison has the upper hand with age and experience. There are seven other wrestlers in Robison’s bracket. All are freshmen and sophomores.
“I think I have a very good chance of winning it. I have experience on them, and obviously I’m more mature,” Robison said. “I have more muscle, I guess, which comes with the maturity factor. I think I can get gold this weekend.”
Some fans will be allowed to attend. One of those fans is Saegertown sophomore Kylie Beck, who has been dating Robison for about a year. Beck and Robison have known each other since fifth grade.
“She’s a really good support system for me. She’s always there,” Robison said.
Luckily for Beck, she’s familiar with wrestling.
“I’ve always been in a wrestling family. My dad was [a wrestler], and both of my brothers were,” Beck said. “That’s how we kind of met — through wrestling.”
There are many supporters and believers in Robison. Head coach Jim Mulligan feels Robison is “the best guy in the bracket.”
“He’s predicted to win it, so we’re keeping him in the moment, one match at a time,” Mulligan said.
Robison’s scrappy wrestling style is described by Mulligan as a “junk yard dog.”
“He can win in any way,” Mulligan said. “He’s as tough as they come.”
Winning the state title is not an easy task. Saegertown has had state champions in the past, but some have finished runner-up.
“A lot of guys [in the past] finished second,” Mulligan said.
Robison reached states before. Now, his sights are set on the gold medal.
“It’d be awesome,” Robison said. “I’ve never gotten a state medal at all. That’d be a good first.”
Robison left Thursday morning after a schoolwide sendoff. Students gathered in the hallways to congratulate Robison, Caldwell and Reagle for qualifying for states.
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School