HERSHEY — Aaron Gill had never taken part in the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships before this week.
He had never even watched the state tournament in person, and he had never set foot in the Giant Center.
So, it’s a bit understandable if the Cambria Heights heavyweight was a bit shell-shocked.
“The first day for practice, I walked in here, Led Zeppelin playing, it was like nothing (I’ve ever experienced),” Gill said. “Just the best atmosphere in the world. It was just awesome.”
The 10,500-seat Giant Center looked a bit different on Thursday morning, with thousands of fans watching as Gill took on Pen Argyl’s Brady Mutton in the first round.
“It was nerve-racking to know that I was being watched by everybody and that I had the No. 1 kid in my bracket,” Gill said.
The match didn’t go well. Mutton was in control from the outset and ended up with a 9-0 major decision.
Gill didn’t sulk, even though it looked his tournament could be over quickly, as he faced Chestnut Ridge’s Austin Buttry, who had beaten him a week earlier, in an elimination match. Gill turned the tables, winning 3-1 in overtime.
On Friday, Gill beat Boiling Springs’ Noah Davis to ensure he would earn a medal and then knocked off Reynolds’s Gene Ringer to move a little higher up the podium. By the time Gill beat Southmoreland’s Jake Beistel 5-2 on Friday night to secure a spot in the consolation finals, he was brimming with confidence.
“I’m wrestling the best I’ve ever wrestled in my life, I believe,” Gill said.
He’ll face Burrell’s Allan Beattie in the third-place match of today’s medal round, which begins at 2 p.m. Beattie won the Southwest Regional last week, but he didn’t wrestle Gill, who placed fourth. The Cambria Heights senior has already taken out two of the wrestlers who placed above him last week. He’d love to make it a third.