HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — With the PIAA wrestling state tournament looming at the GIANT Center this season, many eyes are understandably on the reigning 2A heavyweight champion.
Bishop McDevitt’s Riley Robell is carrying momentum into states after notching his 100th career pin to win the 2A District III title. Robell is just the second wrestling state champion in school history. The first, Cole Nye, was a two time champion, winning in 2016 and 2017. He knows back to back state titles will cement his legacy.
“That’s kind of like a perfect ending to a very long high school book,” Robell said. “Obviously that’s going to be the end goal for me and after I kind of cement that one down I can turn all of my focuses onto the future and the lifting and everything like that.”
The senior, a standout offensive lineman for the Crusaders football team with the 2022 Mr. PA Football Lineman Award already under his belt, will play football at James Madison next fall. His unique blend of size and strength makes him such a tough match on the mat.
“Sometimes when he goes out there and wrestles I don’t even think it’s fair you know what I mean it’s just crazy,” Bishop McDevitt head coach Mike Nauman said.
“It’s like a big bear, big polar bear swatting kids around,” Nauman said. “I wrestled him last year, I’m not getting near him this year. He’s just a good athlete and just a good kid.”
While much of the spotlight is rightfully on him, Robell is equally excited for three fellow Crusaders who will join him at the GIANT Center this weekend: sophomore Ryan Lawler at 145 pounds, sophomore Lucas Lawler at 172 pounds, and senior Jake Gilfoil at 189 pounds.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Robell said. “Last season, another amazing feeling having a lot of the team there. These guys are some of my best friends around.”
“Being able to go in, share the moment, some of these guys first time around, I’ve gotten to see them improve all season long,” Robell said. I’m almost more excited for them than I am for myself.”
Coach Nauman is confident in his guys that Robell won’t be the only one at the podium this weekend.
“He gets a lot of attention but on this team, everybody gets attention and them four guys, they worked really hard from the beginning of the season until now,” Nauman said.
“The difference is amazing,” Nauman said. “I’m thinking they wrestle smart, wrestle hard, I’m thinking all four of my guys should get on the podium.”
The preliminary round of the state tournament begins Thursday morning at the GIANT Center, but all four Crusader wrestlers will wait until the first round to wrestle Thursday afternoon.