HERSHEY >> Spring-Ford's Joey Milano had no shame admitting he was checking himself out on the big screen.
"Every year I always look up there and I'm disappointed," Milano said. "I knew if I ever got to the top of the podium I was going to give it a good look."
Saturday, at the Class 3A PIAA Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey, Milano put on a brilliant display to become Spring-Ford's first state champion with a 15-5 major decision over Hampton's Justin Hart in the 189-pound final.
A glance at the big screen that displayed Milano's beaming smile was plenty justified.
"I wanted to have fun out there," said Milano, who placed fourth in his last two trips to states. "I didn't want to wrestle just to win."
Milano's joy came two matches after teammate, Jack McGill (160 pounds) felt heartbreak. McGill made his way to the finals, as well, but gave up a takedown to Northampton's Jagger Condomitti with four seconds left to tie the match. Condomitti scored the takedown in sudden victory to win his first state title.
"I didn't finish it out," McGill said. "I let up a little with four seconds left and I'm a little sad about that but I gotta move on."
For Spring-Ford coach, Tim Seislove, the different ends of that spectrum of emotions was difficult to navigate.
"Watching Joey get his hand raised, I was so happy for him, but at the same time, I was thinking of Jack," Seislove said. "I'm just so thankful for what those guys did for Spring-Ford and what they did for me."
In Milano's two matches en route to the finals, the North Carolina State-bound senior opened up early leads and coasted to wins.
In the quarterfinals, he majored Penn Manor's Colt Barley, 9-0, and then led Nazareth's Drew Clearie 5-0, before giving up a pair of late takedowns, for a 6-4 win.
"Against Clearie I was a little tight and I stopped wrestling," Milano said. "In my last match, the state final, I wanted to give my all and show everyone who I am."
Milano was elite on his feet. After making a career of terrorizing opponents with tilts, Milano took Hart down six times for his 129th career win in 138 career bouts.
"I think I'm pretty good on my feet, too," Milano said.
Milano joined Matt Moley as the only three-time state medalists in school history. In historical fashion, Milano found a way to put the perfect exclamation point on one of the finest careers in Spring-Ford history.
"It means a lot," Milano said. "It's been talked about since I was a freshman. It was finally my time and that's exciting. ... I'm just grateful. I think I have the best coaches in the country."
Seislove was happy to match the love.
"It's fantastic," Seislove said. "To see where he was and the effort he put into this, to see him go out and wrestle that match is a great feeling."
McGill, a Columbia University commit, pinned Red Lion's Ryan Fry in his opener and then secured two takedowns late in his semifinal match against Pine-Richland's Cole Spencer for a 5-2 win.
"The fact that I could get to my stuff and keep the match how I wanted, and got the win, that felt pretty good," McGill said of his semifinal win.
Condomitti defeated McGill, 9-3, in the East Super Regional final a week prior, but in the rematch, McGill dictated the match for five minutes, 56 seconds. His wrist control stifled Condomitti and a takedown in the second period held until that last-gasp effort by the Nebraska University commit.
"I try not to get too caught up about the state finals," McGill said. "I just try to win every match I'm in. I was happy to see Joey win, and that made it a little easier, but it hurts the same as any other loss."
McGill's 143 career wins are second to only Brandon Meredith (150). He is the only Ram to ever qualify for states all four seasons and adds his silver medal to the seventh-place finish, as a junior.
"Jack has been unbelievable," Seislove said. "His attitude is phenomenal. He just goes out and lets it all hang out. He just loves to wrestle and loves to compete."