O-R Athlete of the Week: Gerrit Nijenhuis, Canon-McMillan

Gerrit Nijenhuis

Name: Gerrit Nijenhuis

School: Canon-McMillan

Sport: Wrestling

Class: Senior

Nijenhuis’ week: The 182-pounder became Canon-McMillan’s all-time leader in victories when he registered two wins in the WPIAL Class AAA Team Tournament at Norwin High School Saturday.

The two victories moved his career win total to 165, passing Colin Johnston.

Nijenhuis pinned Conor Hays in 46 seconds during a 31-30 loss to Seneca Valley. He then won a 13-5 major decision over Justin Craig in a 41-16 win over Hempfield to help the Big Macs advance to the state team tournament.

“It’s a really nice accomplishment, but you want to keep your focus on standing on top of the awards stand in Hershey,” said Nijenhuis, who will wrestle at Purdue University next fall. “I knew (Colin) somewhat. He came around a little and would help out the little wrestlers. He was a good wrestler. I remember Canon-McMillan was a force to be dealt with. I was 10 or 11 back then.”

Johnston won a state individual title as a freshman and was a three-time PIAA medalist.

Nijenhuis will lead the Big Macs, third-place finishers in the WPIAL team tournament, into today’s PIAA Team Tournament against District 3 champion Gettysburg. The match begins at 8 p.m. at the Giant Center in Hershey.

“The team tournament was a little disappointing,” said Nijenhuis. “We were a little banged up, didn’t have (heavyweight Gio Ramos) or I think we’re walking out with a WPIAL trophy.”

Unless something bizarre happens, Nijenhuis will make a return trip to the Giant Center next month to participate in the state individual tournament.

Last year, Nijenhuis stunned the packed crowd in the arena by tearing apart two-time champion Edmund Ruth of Susquehanna Township in the 170-pound finals.

Nijenhuis’ performance was so overwhelming that he was named the Class AAA Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.

Wrestling abroad: The senior has wrestled in many places during his career but one of the most interesting was when he did some club wrestling in the Netherlands. His family has relatives who live there and they occasionally visit. On some trips, he got the opportunity to show his skills.

“They are a little stronger than America in Greco but not freestyle,” he said. “I went to some clubs and I did a little tour. It was cool.”

If Nijenhuis wins another state title, it would be the 25th individual title in Canon-McMillan program history. Canonsburg High School produced 21 state champions.

Compiled by staff writer Joe Tuscano.

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