Maddox Shaw’s PIAA title highlights decorated season for Jaguars

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Sunday, March 24, 2024 | 11:01 AM


A two-time WPIAL champion, Thomas Jefferson’s Maddox Shaw advanced to the PIAA Class 3A tournament in Hershey again this year where he took first place in the 139-pound weight division.

Shaw became TJ’s second state champion in the past three years and second under coach Michael Ladick.

“For 730 days since he took third in 2021 and second in 2022, Maddox has shown nothing but resilience,” Ladick said. “He was focused and never wavered in his workouts, commitment and desire to get to the top of the podium.

“Maddox is a testament to what one can do when they learn how to peak their performance at the right time in the right place.”

The top seed at 139 pounds, Shaw, a junior, edged Central Mountain’s Dalton Perry in overtime, 2-1, to claim the title. Shaw and Perry, also a junior, were tied at 1-1 heading in OT when the TJ grappler ended the match with a takedown.

Shaw won two of his four PIAA bouts by falls to add to his school-record victory total which stands at 128 (with 81 career pins).

In 2022, TJ’s Brian Finnerty was the PIAA champ at 215 pounds. He was the Jaguars’ previous career wins leader with 121 from 2019-22.

Shaw closed out his 2023-24 season at 43-3 after finishing 41-6 and third in the state as a 126-pound freshman and 44-3 and second in the state as a 133-pound sophomore.

He is a three-time section titlist and two-time regional winner. He also placed second at regionals as a freshman.

Shaw moved into the PIAA championship bracket by shouldering Canon-McMillan’s Ryder Joseph in 56 seconds, slipping past West Scranton’s Michael Turi, 3-2, and pinning Central Buck West’s Patrick Kelly at 5:54.

TJ junior Bode Marlow captured third place at 160 pounds in this year’s PIAA finals.

Seeded third, Marlow earned a 3-1 sudden victory decision over Pottsville’s Nick Kunstek to secure the bronze medal.

“It was clear Bode was going to use his blood-round loss at the PIAA tournament last year as rocket fuel,” Ladick said. “He is an absolute monster on the mat, aggressively seeking takedowns, wrestling with pure force for the entire match.

“At every step, county, section, WPIAL and the PIAA tournament, he had all eyes on him as he showed everyone the workhorse he is in and outside of the wrestling room.”

In previous PIAA action, Marlow beat Waynesburg’s Brock Evans via a 20-5 technical fall and Central York’s Carter Davis, 5-1; lost to State College’s Asher Cunningham, 7-1; then edged Connellsville’s Lonzy Vielma, 1-0.

“I think I wrestled pretty good, but I also feel like I was too nervous in certain matches and I don’t think it helped my performance,” Marlow said. “All glory to God.”

Marlow finished 39-7 overall to add to his 35-11 record as a 132-pound freshman and 38-9 record as a 152-pound sophomore. He stands at 112-27 for his career, which includes 59 falls and 14 technical falls.

“My expectations for next year are to focus on my wrestling, grow as a wrestler, and have fun with it,” Marlow said.

He has placed first, second and third at sectionals, and first and third at regionals.

Shaw, Marlow and TJ junior Shepard Turk made history this season as all three won WPIAL championships.

“Shepard straight up gets the team and individual side to competition,” Ladick said. “He is athletically smart and physically ominous. He worked incredibly hard day after day, taking down county, section and WPIAL titles with different methodologies in each match.

“He understands match strategies and after experiencing the PIAA tournament this year he knows what is needed to get on the podium.”

TJ was the only school that had multiple WPIAL 3A titlists, doing so for the first time in program history. Shaw became the first TJ grappler with multiple WPIAL championships.

And the Jaguars have won at least one WPIAL title in each of the past three tournaments and six of the school’s all-time total of 10 since 2019.

Turk advanced to the state tournament in the 285-pound weight division. He finished with one win and two losses at Giant Center, wrapping up the season with a 34-9 record.

Turk posted 26 falls among his 34 wins this year and 21 last year when he ended up 26-11. He was 8-8 as a freshman with seven pins.

Turk has won one section crown and was a runner-up once. He also has placed twice at the regional tournament.

Jaguars place second in WPIAL team scoring

The talented TJ trio reeled in three WPIAL individual championships March 2 at Canon-McMillan to lead the Jaguars to a second-place finish in the team standings.

Finishing second and having multiple WPIAL titlists were firsts for Thomas Jefferson.

The Jaguars placed second in 3A with 105.5 points behind WPIAL champion Connellsville (146.5 points).

“The kids drove it; they set the goals,” said Ladick. “It feels amazing. This is a testament to our schedule; our guys have been battle-tested. This is what they train for. The only expectation is the match in front of you.

“I’m appreciative of the support from Cherp (AD Bill Cherpak) and the administration; and we have great assistant coaches.”

Shaw pinned Pine-Richland’s Dominic Ferraro in 49 seconds to earn his second consecutive WPIAL crown, becoming the first Jaguar with multiple WPIAL titles.

He won all four of his WPIAL bouts via first-period pins.

“It’s an honor,” Shaw said. “I set a lot of goals, and this was one of them. I’m thankful for every step; I just want to be the best I can be. This shows the caliber of the guys we have in the (wrestling) room.”

Marlow earned his first WPIAL championship with an 11-7 victory over Vielma. The TJ junior took a commanding 11-2 lead en route to the crown and posted two falls in the tournament.

“I’m grateful to be here. It means a lot,” Marlow said. “We work hard. It’s a good feeling; last year I didn’t get what I wanted (at WPIALs). It’s kind of cool how you evolve from one year to the next.

“I liked how I pushed the pace in my matches. It’s all glory to God through everything.”

Turk used a second-period escape to take a 1-0 lead and added a third-period takedown to defeat Waynesburg’s Roan Tustin, 3-0, in the WPIAL finals.

Turk won three of matches with pins and is the Jaguars’ first WPIAL heavyweight champion.

“It’s a good feeling; I had fun,” he said. “That (three TJ champs) feels great; they’re two of my best friends.

“I’m happy with how I performed at the WPIAL tournament. I had a great time. I’m disappointed with how I performed at states. I feel I underperformed.”

TJ sophomore Zach Labryer took seventh place at 189 pounds at WPIALs while senior Brady Fitz placed eighth at 172. Fitz ended up 26-15 this year after going 24-14 and 24-14 in his previous two seasons. Lebryer was 18-7 in 2023-24.

Freshman Zach Rehak also won 18 times at 107 pounds for the Jaguars; senior Justin Leske (215) was a 13-time winner with 11 pins.

Ladick already is looking forward to coaching next year’s team at TJ alongside his father, Bob, as his No. 1 assistant. It will be Ladick’s 10th season with the Jaguars.

“We added James ‘Snapper’ Fleming as an assistant in September,” Ladick said. “As a former two-time Division I All-American at Clarion, Snap made an immediate impact not only in helping our wrestlers who were focused on postseason goals but was an absolute clinician and technician in the practice room every day with wrestlers of all levels.”

The TJ coaching staff will have a talent-laden squad in 2024-25, for sure.

“We have a group of returning varsity wrestlers and a crew of junior high wrestlers who will become ninth and 10th graders next season who have to commit themselves in the offseason to getting on the mat, training and getting strong,” Ladick said. “Our team leaders have to build the next set of expectations for themselves because when it comes from their peers it means more to the team.”

Turk looks for the Jaguars to be a powerhouse in 2024-25.

“Our team should be very dominant next year and have everything we need,” he said.

Jeffrey Nelson contributed to this article.

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