Boozel ends drought, tops rival for gold

Sentinel photo by JEFF FISHBEIN
Mount Union’s Josh Boozel, top, wrestles Glendale’s Brock McMillen Saturday in the PIAA Class 2A Wrestling Championships 113-pound final in Hershey. Boozel won the match to become the Trojans’ first state champion in 15 years.

HERSHEY — Josh Boozel was one match away from being Mount Union’s first wrestling champion in 15 years when he woke up Saturday morning.

He was a champion when the day ended.

Boozel made it look easy in a 7-3 decision over Glendale’s Brock McMillen, the fourth time the two have met this season –and the fourth time the Trojan has come off the mat a winner.

“It was super difficult. It was very difficult to get all four wins,” Boozel said. “It’s easy to win but hard to keep winning.”

The familiarity factor is strong in that one, and not in a good way.

“We know each other so well,” he said. “It was hard for me to counter him because he knew what I was doing.”

But, except for a brief moment in the second period, this one was never in doubt. Boozel scored his first takedown 15 seconds into the match, and added two back points before the first period ended.

He chose the bottom in the second and was again in control before 30 seconds passed, now leading 6-0. But in the effort to turn things back in his favor he pushed too hard on his knee, leading to injury time.

“I was in a scramble and my knee got twisted. When I was moving so fast it popped and I didn’t stop until I got the points,” he said. Then? “I think I just forgot about it for a little bit. It all went away.”

McMillen worked free before the second ended, and scored one late takedown in the third after Boozel was warned for stalling. Boozel escaped and the two danced out the last 30 seconds.

“I had a dream I was winning. I just knew I was winning,” Boozel said. “I just physically had to go out and do it. I knew I could do it. I just had to do it.”

The results?

“Best feeling in the world. All the hard work paid off,” he said.

He said he’s been hearing about it all year in school after finishing as runner-up a year ago.

The last champion, he noted, was “15 years (ago), and his name was Josh, too. I have been (told that) a lot. … Everybody I saw said, ‘Go get that gold medal.'”

Mount Union’s last state champion was Josh Kirsch, who won a title in 2003 at 215 pounds. Four individuals wearing a Trojan singlet have finished at the top, beginning with Thad Stewart in 1982 at 126. Troy Sunderland won twice, in 1987 and 1988, both at 145. Clayton Grice (126) also won it all in 1988.

Boozel initially didn’t expect to wrestle McMillen again, but the Viking freshman knocked off returning state champ Beau Bayless of Reynolds to create the matchup. Whether he wanted a rematch with Bayless or not, Boozel had to take the one in front of him — and admitted the onus was on him to win the bout.

“More pressure on me. I should have the pressure because he has nothing to lose,” he said. But there was no lack of confidence there, either: “If I can beat this kid three times, I can do it again.”