Joel Anthony Gonzalo
- Post by: mcalibrary
- January 12, 2024
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It is the goal of every athlete to be the best at something, to be the first person ever to achieve something, or to finish your career as one of only a few to have realized something great. Joel Gonzalo, after his stellar career at Mount Carmel Area High School, can say that he has done just that. Joel was a 12-letter, three-sport captain, during a tremendous time for MCA sports. As a wide receiver/defensive back for coaches Joe Jazz Diminick and Whitey Williams, Joel shattered receiving records that had stood for 28 years. He would be the first ever to record 50 receptions in a season, and is the only receiver to pass the 50 mark twice (51 in 93 and 52 in 94). He was the first to surpass the 100 mark and finished his career with 123 receptions for 1850 yards and 20 TD’s. (The 123 is still the all-time mark, while the 1850 is second to Tim Wargo’s 1866). He also became the first MCA athlete to register 11 interceptions in the 1994 season, a mark that still stands today. Joel also established a career record with 32 consecutive games with a reception. He was a first team Associated Press Small School wide receiver following MCA’s first ever 1994 State Championship season. That allowed him to become the only person named to both Big School and Small School all state as he was a 1993 Big School selection. He was also receiver of the year named by the Reading Eagle.
As the point guard for John McKay’s Red Tornado basketball team, Gonzalo led the team to 3 consecutive playoff appearances, losing to eventual winner Pine Grove as a sophomore, losing the District XI Championship game to Northern Lehigh as a junior, then defeating the Catasauqua Roughies to win McKay’s and MCA’s second District XI Championship. During the playoff run, Gonzalo averaged 18 points, 8 assists, 4 steals, hit 13 threes and was 26 of 31 from the line. He is the first, and only player, from Mount Carmel Area to be named to the first team all anthracite basketball team by the Reading Eagle. Along the way, Joel became only the second player in school history to record 500 assists, finishing with 575 and over 900 points. Gonzalo also ran track for Coach Mike Woytowich. He participated in the sprints and jumps, but specialized in the 400 meter. He has 6 District XI medals to his credit and would win the District XI Championship in the 4 x 400 meter relay along with Gary Spears, Bob Veach, and Scott Sebastian. Their 3:13.3 would be a meter record at the time and would finish just out of the money at the PIAA State Championships with a 9th place spot. Winning the District Gold in track would enable Gonzalo to become the first athlete in MCA history to earn gold medals in three different sports. He was the recipient of MCA’s Babe Ruth Award as 1995’s outstanding athlete.
After weighing opportunities from Colgate, West Chester, Georgetown, and Shippensburg, Gonzalo decided to attend Wilkes University and enroll in its pharmacy program. A severe ankle injury prevented him from continuing his career. He would later win intramural basketball titles at Wilkes and the first ever Pharmacy school golf tournament. During his time at Wilkes, Joel would twice qualify for the National 3 on 3 Basketball Championship in Denver, Colorado. He would graduate Magna Cum Laude from Wilkes in 2001. He is currently employed by Pharmerica, a pharmaceutical nursing home provider,, in the Harrisburg area. He is the son of Rose and Jose Gonzalo, Shady Acres.