Bloody Buddies: Coatesville's Lucier, Henderson's McMonagle reflect on tight bond as they bid farewell with fourth-place state finishes

by Nate Heckenberger, Daily Local

Posted on March 14, 2021

Article originally appeared here:

HERSHEY >> The right eye of Coatesville's Nate Lucier was swollen shut and painted purple, while his dumpling of an right ear pushed back on his headgear.

West Chester Henderson's Sammy McMonagle had both nostrils stuffed tight with plugs while blood smeared his front teeth.

These two seniors from the Ches-Mont League have been through a few wars over the years, the latest at the Class 3A PIAA Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Those battle scars are worn like ribbons telling tales of waging battle and overcoming odds, all while pushing each other along as friends.

"It's been amazing," said McMonagle of he and Lucier's friendship. "He's one of the best practice partners you could ask for. I call him whenever I need a good workout and it's been an amazing four years."

Neither Lucier (132 pounds) nor McMonagle (145) were exactly happy with their state tournaments. Both had dreams of claiming gold and both settled for fourth, but there was an undercurrent of accomplishment from a combo that combined for 255 career wins.

"It was definitely rough," Lucier said. "I got where I was last year and fell short at the same spot. It hurt bad, but not everything in life goes your way. ... I'm proud of where I am and I know how far I've come."

In the morning session, Lucier advanced to the semifinals where he couldn't get out from bottom and dropped a 1-0 decision to eventual champ, Briar Priest of Hempfield. Lucier rallied to pin Bethlehem Catholic's Matt Mayer in the consolation semifinals, but followed with a loss to Bellefonte's Jude Swisher.

After losing 13 matches as a freshman, Lucier lost just 14 his final three seasons and topped his sixth-place state medal as a junior.

"Looking back, in ninth grade, honestly I didn't even think about going to states," Lucier said. "I didn't think I could be on that level. When I got there the next year it opened my eyes that I could be one of those guys who gets to a podium."

McMonagle used a win over Hempfield's Ty Linsenbigler to move on to semifinals, where he nearly came back against Waynesburg Central's eventual champ, Wyatt Henson. In consis, McMonagle bettered Williamsport's Riley Bower before losing a rematch to Linsenbigler in tiebreaker.

"I had a goal of being state champ and I didn't achieve that," said McMonagle, who finished seventh as a junior. "It's nice I did better than last year, but my goal wasn't to do better than last year. It was to win a state title, so it's a little bittersweet."

Downingtown West's Dom Findora had one of the bigger wins of the quarterfinal round when he upset returning state champ, Ethan Berginc of Hempfield, 5-4. Berginc defeated Findora a year ago at states, and eventually won the rubber match in the consolation final.

"My plan was to win every match and just stay focused on one match at a time," Findora said. "I spent a lot of time on a game plan (for Berginc) and it worked the first match. I'm kinda mad I lost in the third-place match."

Findora's fourth-place finish marks five straight years the Whippets have had a medalist. He will be the lone returning state medalist in the Ches-Mont next season.

Kennett's Trent Kochersperger gave Franklin Regional's eventual champion, Finn Solomon, all he could handle in a 3-0 loss, but the senior responded by taking out Bethlehem Catholic's Andrew Harmon, 5-3, in consolations. Kochersperger dropped a 3-0 decision to Chartiers Valley's Dylan Evans, but wound up with a fifth-place medal when DuBois' Chandler Ho had to injure default midway through their bout.

"I always dreamed about being a state medalist," Kochersperger said. "Obviously I always wanted to be champ, but not everybody gets to be champ. I just kept trying for the next big thing, each match. This medal brings out all my hard work and who I am."

Downingtown East's Keanu Manuel (120) used a pair of near-fall points in the second tiebreaker period to get past West Scranton's Austin Fashouer, in the first round of consolations, for his only win on the day. His three losses were by a combined five points, but after two prior trips to Hershey without a medal, Manuel was thankful to close his career with a sixth-place finish.

"Obviously it wasn't the happiest ending, but I'm still very grateful for my high school career," said Manuel, who finished with a career record of 121-20. "I'm happy that I was able to get this medal and get to the state podium."

Manuel's teammate, Matt Romanelli (172), couldn't find a win in Hershey, but finishes his career as an eighth-place state medalist, with a career record of 94-25. He dropped decisions to Mifflin County's Trey Kibe, La Salle's Regan Loughney and injury defaulted against Nazareth's Sonny Sasso.

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