Canon-McMillan’s Gerrit Nijenhuis named Trib HSSN Wrestler of the Year

Saturday, March 30, 2019 | 5:56 PM

Trib HSSN Wrestler of the Year

Gerrit Nijenhuis, Canon-McMillan, junior, 170 pounds

When Gerrit Nijenhuis returned home to Canonsburg after winning the PIAA Class AAA 170-pound title, he was greeted by a parade. It was the culmination of a season of hard work.

The Canon-McMillan junior struggled a little with his weight and an injury, but found a way to win the state title.

Nijenhuis (44-3, 134-16) capped off the season by defeating two-time PIAA champion Edmond Ruth of Susquehanna Township in the finals, 8-3. He dominated the competition at the state tournament, including Ruth. He finished the season with 26 pins.

He also won the Cumberland Valley tournament and placed second at Powerade and Escape the Rock. The Purdue commit is a three-time Section 4 champion. He also won his first WPIAL title.

Because of his late-season dominance, Nijenhuis was named Trib HSSN Wrestler of the Year.

How did it feel to win the state title?

Going into the tournament I had a pretty good mindset. My plan was to attack and attack and set the pace and that’s what I did. When I won I wanted to thank everyone who helped me get this far, which is my parents, my friends and coaches. It was instant gratitude.

You had quite a greeting when you got home. Was that a surprise?

Canon-McMillan is really the best wrestling community in the world. No one beats it. I had a lot of family who was there. I was definitely surprised. We had state champions the past two years, and there was nothing like that. It was really awesome.

How did you overcome your weight and injuries during the season?

It was definitely my most obstacle-filled season in my high school career. I feel like me winning states and overcoming those things made it that much better. My knee was pretty banged up. It feels really good to overcome that adversity.

What are your plans for the summer?

I’ll probably good down to Purdue and train with some of the guys. Maybe Junior Worlds, Super 32 and all that good stuff.

What did you think about the NCAA championships in Pittsburgh last week?

The overall atmosphere was amazing. Before, I thought nothing beats states, but NCAA, there is nothing like it in the world. I just feel like if I stay on track (I can get there), and I think the coaches and wrestlers at Purdue are going to help me be great. I have no doubt I’ll be working out on the stage in two and a half years.”

What did you like about Purdue?

I really connected with the coaches, the kids and the school. It’s a great fit, and I feel very well there.

When did you start wrestling?

I was 6 years old, and I was at Fort Cherry. I started picking up on things, and I didn’t know anything. My dad was familiar with the sport, and I started training and I started getting better and better.

What do you love most about the sport?

You don’t have to be the most athletic or most talented. If you work hard, you can beat a lot of guys that are not as good technically or athletically. You have to keep working.

If you had a scuffle among your teammates, who would win?

Evan Miller, our 195 pounder. He’s scrapper.

What’s your favorite prematch meal?

I like chicken and pasta. You don’t want to get too filled up.

Is there a food you crave during wrestling season that you stay away from?

It would be the McGriddle from McDonald’s. They are pretty good.

Trib HSSN wrestling all-stars


Franklin Regional, sr., 126 pounds

2018-19 record: 40-4

The WPIAL Class AAA champion placed second in the state for the second consecutive season. He was the Section 1 runner-up. He was a WCCA champion and placed second at the Eastern Area Invitational. He finished with a 142-22 career record and was selected for the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. He will attend Pitt.


Seneca Valley, so., 106 pounds

2018-19 record: 41-5

The WPIAL champion finished second in the state, falling to Franklin Regional sophomore Carter Dibert. He defeated Dibert in the WPIAL finals in overtime, 6-1. He placed second in the Powerade tournament and won the King of the Mountain. His career record is 78-18.


Derry, sr., 220 pounds

2018-19 record: 39-2

The three-sport athlete placed second in the state for the second consecutive season. He suffered a knee injury in the semifinals. He placed third in the state as a sophomore. He was the WPIAL Class AA and WCCA champion. He also plays football and volleyball. He finished with a 155-25 career record. He will attend Mercyhurst to play football.


Franklin Regional, so., 106 pounds

2018-19 record: 41-2

The sophomore reversed a loss in the WPIAL Class AAA finals by defeating Seneca Valley sophomore Dylan Chappell to win his first PIAA title. He was a two-time PIAA qualifier. He won the WCCA title. His two-year record is 72-12.


Hopewell, sr., 138 pounds

2018-19 record: 42-2

Ealy became the school’s first state champion after winning the WPIAL and PIAA Class AA 138-pound title. He placed fifth in the state in 2018 at 126 pounds. He finished second at the Chartiers-Houston tournament, falling to North Hills junior Sam Hillegas. He also won the MAC tournament, the Mercer VFW and Fred Bell tournaments. He will attend Pitt-Johnstown. His career record is 137-21.


Seneca Valley, so., 113 pounds

2018-19 record: 48-1

The two-time PIAA champion defeated Franklin Regional freshman Finn Solomon in the state finals. He also won his first WPIAL Class AAA title. His only loss came at the Ironman tournament. He won the King of the Mountain and Powerade titles. His career record is 94-9.


North Hills, jr., 132 pounds

2018-19 record: 42-1

The two-time PIAA champion lost in the state semifinals to Northampton senior Julian Chlebove. Hillegas ended up placing third after defeating Latrobe junior Gabe Willochell. Hillegas is a three-time WPIAL champion. He also won the Powerade and Allegheny County tournaments. His career record is 118-2.


Frazier, jr., 160 pounds

2018-19 record: 29-3

Lawrence became Frazier’s first PIAA champion in any sport in 2018. He added to his collection by defeating Kane senior Alec English for his second state title. An injury sidelined him for part of the season. He is a three-time WPIAL champion and three-time PIAA placewinner. His career record is 97-11.


Kiski Area, sr., 126 pounds

2018-19 record: 46-2

The WPIAL runner-up became the third Kiski Area wrestler to win a state title after he defeated Franklin Regional senior Colton Camacho for the third time this season. Camacho defeated Miller is the WPIAL finals. Miller was the WCCA and Eastern Area Invitational champion. He wrestled for the Pennsylvania team in the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. He will attend Bucknell. His career record was 164-23.


Norwin, jr., 120 pounds

2018-19 record: 37-3

The three-time WPIAL Class AAA champ finished second in the state for the second consecutive season, falling to Nazareth senior Sean Pierson, 9-5. Phipps sustained a severe ankle and foot injury in the semifinals but still competed. He was the Powerade and Section 1 champion. His career record is 112-9.


Mt. Pleasant, fr., 182 pounds

2018-19 record: 39-1

The Vikings’ freshman claimed a PIAA Class AA title and won the Penn Cambria, Southmoreland and Penn-Trafford Ultimate Warrior tournaments, along with the WPIAL and PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournaments. Belle Vernon senior Scott Joll was the lone wrestler to beat him. That was in the WCCA tournament. He later defeated Joll at the Ultimate Warrior event.


Upper St. Clair, sr., 285 pounds

2018-19 record: 39-1

The WPIAL heavyweight champion finished second in the state, falling to Cathedral Prep’s Kawaun DeBoe. He won the Allegheny County, Southmoreland, Chartiers-Houston and Burgettstown tournaments. He was selected to wrestle in the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. His career record was 138-26.


Mt. Lebanon, jr., 182 pounds

2018-19 record: 42-2.

The Blue Devils junior was the WPIAL Class AAA champion and Section 1 winner. He also won the Allegheny County tournament and is a three-time PIAA qualifier. He placed fourth in 2018. He lost to Cathedral Prep’s Carter Starocci in the Powerade and state finals. Career record: 111-17.


Shaler, sr., 120 pounds

2018-19 record: 28-1

An injury in the Section 3 final cost him a shot at another WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA title. He was the WPIAL and PIAA champion in 2018. The Pitt recruit won the Allegheny County tournament. His career record is 110-6.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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