Max Shaw cements legacy as one of Thomas Jefferson’s best athletes

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Friday, June 14, 2019 | 10:50 PM


Team and individual MVP honors are not recognized at Thomas Jefferson at the end of a school year.

But there is little doubt two-sport standout Max Shaw rates among the best — and toughest — athletes in school history.

Shaw, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior football player and wrestler, will continue his athletic career as a wrestler at North Carolina.

“The memories I’ve created from competing as a Jaguar have been the best of my life so far,” Shaw said. “It has taught me so much, and I’ve made friendships to last a lifetime. My family, friends, coaches and community all played a huge role in it, as well. They made it so much more enjoyable.

“I’ll miss competing with my friends the most. I feel like high school is such a unique time in people’s lives, especially when playing sports.”

Along with his dynamic athletic skills, Shaw carried a 3.6 GPA in his senior year and is interested in majoring in accounting.

“I chose UNC because I believe it’s a great place for me to succeed,” he said. “When I visited the campus, I was taken away by almost everything and was excited at the thought of expanding my boundaries and attending school far from home. My goal as a freshman is to adapt quickly and make an impact on the mat as soon as I can.”

Shaw was the first TJ wrestler in more than 25 years to win a WPIAL championship. He was ranked No. 1 all season in his weight division in Class AAA by Trib HSSN.

Seeded No. 1, Shaw pinned Bethel Park’s Luke Montgomery in 2 minutes, 27 seconds in the championship bout to cap his WPIAL season with a 33-0 record.

“Winning the WPIAL title has always been a goal of mine,” he said. “I’m glad I could finish my WPIAL wrestling career on top. It’s a great feeling.”

Prior to Shaw, the last TJ titlist at the WPIAL meet was Mark Eckley (145 pounds, 1992).

Shaw placed third at the PIAA tournament in his junior and senior seasons, when he went a combined 72-5. He finished third in the WPIAL as a junior and was a section runner-up. He was a section champion as a senior.

“Max and Alex (Weber) are the faces of the wrestling program,” TJ wrestling coach Michael Ladick said last season, “and hopefully their success will translate into the underclassmen seeing and understanding their paths in an attempt to create their own journey toward Hershey.”

Shaw’s high school achievements also included being selected a team captain in wrestling (two years) and football, achieving all-conference status at linebacker (twice) and at running back, earning all-state status at running back and winning a county championship in wrestling.

Shaw took a back seat to few WPIAL running backs in his senior season. In Week 8, he was named Trib HSSN Football Player of the Week when he led the Jaguars to a 70-21 conference win Oct. 19 at home against Greensburg Salem.

He rushed for 286 yards and six touchdowns on 25 carries in the Jaguars’ biggest offensive showing of the season, and he tied two team rushing records.

Shaw accounted for 1,971 yards and 35 touchdowns on 214 carries overall, setting a team record of 9.2 yards per carry.

He caught four passes for 61 yards, giving him 2,032 yards in total offense.

During his three years of varsity competition, the Jaguars won two WPIAL championships, two conference titles, finished as WPIAL runner-up once, posted a 34-4 overall record and 22-1 mark in conference play.

And Shaw more than upheld the tradition at the position, joining the ranks of Justin Vigna, Quinton Hill, Austin Kemp, Jake Farrell, Ryan Ruffing, T.J. Matrascia, Brian Baldrige, Orlando Torres, Arthur James, Dan Giegerich, Nate Nix, Ryan Hicks, Jon Drager and Tom Jura as top running backs in TJ football history.

The Jaguars did not lose a game at home during Shaw’s three varsity seasons.

Shaw and teammate Dan Deabner were named to the Pennsylvania Football Writers Class 4A all-state team at the running back and wide receiver positions, respectively.

Shaw said two of his career highlights were taking first place at the Powerade wrestling tournament and playing in the WPIAL football finals at Heinz Field.

Shaw, undefeated in December, landed a top seed at the Powerade tournament held Dec. 28-29 at Canon-McMillan.

He rolled through the tourney, defeating Cedar Cliff senior Donovan Ball, 7-2, in the championship bout. Shaw became the second wrestler in school history to win a Powerade title; the first was Leo Giel in 1993.

“The competition at Powerade is the best you’ll find anywhere,” Shaw said. “That tournament is awesome. I had some tough opponents, especially in my semifinal and final matches. They were scrappy matches, and both went the full length.”

Ladick beamed when talking about Shaw, who helped lead the program to its first section championship.

“I have only been at TJ for four years,” Ladick said, “but in my opinion, Max has to be one of the top all-around athletes the district has ever had. I can say with confidence that in my 13 years of coaching he’s definitely in my top three.

“Max really came around after his sophomore year. He started to take onus of things as a captain his junior year, and made his presence felt while having a huge part in helping the team win a section title. His style is as basic as it gets; strong stance, solid and quick shots, tough on top and score off the bottom.”

Both Cherpak and Ladick look forward to watching Shaw distinguish himself in both his athletic and academic careers in college at North Carolina.

“Max is an old soul in an 18-year-old body,” Ladick added. “I don’t have expectations for Max because he wouldn’t want me to have them for him. That being said, I think we share the same vision for his academic and athletic careers at UNC — leave Pennsylvania and experience an outstanding collegiate experience (wrestling and personal), while obtaining a degree that helps guide his future aspirations.

“Max is one of a kind. I’m glad he cemented his legacy at TJ and look forward to watching him grow into the next phase of his life.”

Shaw recently returned from the NHSCA Duals wrestling tournament in Virginia Beach. He finished with a 10-1 record as his club team, Quest School of Wrestling, finished fourth in the country (out of 192 teams).

Shaw departs June 20 for Chapel Hill, N.C.

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