Gerrit Nijenhuis

Marc Billett/For the Observer-Reporter

Canon-McMillan’s Gerrit Nijenhuis, back, works for points against Nick Baker of Penn Manor in the Class AAA 182-pound semifinals March 7 at the PIAA Championships in Hershey. Nijenhuis won the bout, 13-2, and later won his second consecutive state title.

HERSHEY – When the 182-pound state wrestling final began, history was made.

It was the first time in PIAA history two Washington County wrestlers competed against one another in a final.

When it was over, Canon-McMillan’s Gerrit Nijenhuis had his second title after a 6-0 decision over Donovan McMillon of Peters Township in the PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey Saturday.

“I didn’t know that,” said Nijenhuis (47-0). “I was only thinking about becoming a two-time state champion. It feels amazing. I just go out and wrestle the same way.”

McMillon lost for the third time to Nijenhuis this season.

“I want to play Gerrit in football,” joked the highly recruited junior. “I’m super excited where I ended up and can’t wait to come back here next year.”

Nijenhuis became the first two-time state champion since Solomon Chishko won his second title in 2014. He becomes the 25th state champion in Canon-McMillan history.

And he did so with simple hard work, strong technique and powerful wrestling, so different from last year’s dramatic performance defeating two-time Class AA champion Edmond Ruth of Susquehanna Township. That performance produced the Outstanding Wrestler award for the Class AAA part of this event.

McMillon is a major division football recruit, being wooed by such schools as Notre Dame and Michigan.

Nijenhuis committed to Purdue last year.

“All my coaches that recruited me have been supportive of me wrestling,” said McMillon. “They said it’s helped me so much. As a defensive player being able to attack the legs and create angles, that’s one way. But just striving to win, that mentality is so important.”

The two met previously in this postseason with Nijenhuis winning both. Nijenhuis stopped McMillon, 8-2, in the finals of the WPIAL Championships at Canon-McMillan last week.

In the Tri-CADA tournament in early January, Nijenhuis won a 13-3 major decision in the 182 final.

“He’s Canon-McMillan’s greatest wrestler,” said McMillon after his semifinal victory. “He takes shots and knows even if they aren’t the best, he can still finish them because he is such a great wrestler.”

Nijenhuis’ win also made him the career victory leader in the WPIAL with 181, breaking the record jointly by Geoff Alexander and Dane Johnson, both of Shade Side Academy. Zach Kemerer of Upper Perkiomen leads with 199.

The path to the finals for Nijenhuis began with a pin in 1:43 over Jake Marnell of Hazelton. Nijenhuis then stopped Joey Milano of Spring Ford, 7-1, in the quarterfinals. Nijenhuis moved into the finals with a 13-2 major decision over Nick Baker of Penns Manor.

McMillon opened with a 6-5 decision over Max Gourty of Gettysburg then disposed of Caden Wright of Emmaus in the quarterfinals. A 5-4 decision over Maximus Hale of Downingtown West sealed his match against Nijenhuis.

Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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