By Payton Brooks, social media editor
The bitter wind was blowing across the anxious faces of the people gathered outside Saegertown High School as four fire engines blared their horns on their way through town on Sunday, March 12.
The trucks delivered freshman Kenny Kiser, junior Cody Mulligan, and seniors Jude Mattocks and Tyler Brooks, the wrestlers who had just returned from the state championship, to a crowd of cheering supporters. Mulligan stepped out first with the memory of his father placing the gold medal around his neck still fresh in his mind.
Before he could proudly return to such a welcome, however, he had to work his way there.
This was not his first time at the state tournament. As a freshman, he qualified and competed but came out without a medal. His sophomore season, he had a severe injury during a match that required him to forfeit the final two matches. Due to the injury, he defaulted to sixth place.
This year, Mulligan overcame the impairment to have an impressive season. He placed third at the King of the Mountain tournament, second at Powerade, and first at Tool City. In the three weeks prior to winning the state championship, the 182 pound section, region, and district titles went to him. Coincidentally, he beat the same competitor each time. Out of the four Panther wrestlers that competed at the Giants Center in Hershey on Mar. 9-11, Mulligan was the only one to place in the top eight. After demolishing all competition within his bracket, with a 17-2 technical fall, a 3-1 decision, and a 11-0 major, he came face to face with Dominic Fundy of Bethlehem-Center in the finals.
“I was pretty confident because he barely beat a guy that I had defeated three weeks in a row. It gave me some confidence going into the match,” Mulligan said. The first period of the championship match left the board scoreless, but Mulligan chose bottom for the second. He quickly escaped before getting a takedown to get up 3-0. He stayed on top for the rest of the period, and Fundy had choice for the third. He picked neutral in an attempt to close the gap, but Mulligan got a takedown and a technical point due to Fundy’s inactivity. For the final forty seconds of the match, his 6-0 lead stayed intact as Cody forced the kid down, resulting in one of the most dominant victories in the tournament finals.
“Cody will just work everyday. Winning the state title for Cody is not the end. It’s about the work,” head coach and Cody’s dad Jim Mulligan said. Cody’s goal is to get back into the wrestling room and improve so that he can defend his state title next year.
“I just want to say thanks. It means a lot coming back here and seeing all the people. I just couldn’t do it without them, my family, everybody else. It means a lot.” Cody Mulligan said. For video coverage of the homecoming, visit thepantherpress.com.