East Juniata High school junior Garrett Gabel was the lone Juniata County grappler at the PIAA State Wrestling Championships at Hershey's Giant Center, as the competition opened Thursday morning, March 9.
Competing in the 182-pound class and officially representing Juniata High School, as EJ's wrestling squad was combined with the cross-county program a few seasons ago, Gabel started the morning wrestling Trinity High School's Colton Drawbaugh. The two had met earlier in the season in one of Juniata's dual tournaments. In that first meeting, the wrestler from Camp Hill was the victor, and things didn't change at the state level, as Gabel again fell to Drawbaugh by a 9-4 decision and was sent to the tournament's consolation bracket.
Unfortunately, the EJ grappler's luck did not change for the afternoon, as, in his first consolation match, he was pinned by Palmerton High School's Jarred Mooney. The loss to the Carbon County wrestler eliminated Gabel from advancing to the second day of the competition.
Gabel plans to return to the mat for next year's wrestling action. Hopes are that the experience he gained this season through his first trip to state level competition will help him to make his way back to Hershey to compete in the 2018 Pennsylvania championship tournament.