After day two at the PIAA state wrestling championships at Hershey’s Giant Center only two area wrestlers remain. Competing at heavyweight, Mount Union’s Jake Ryan won two more times Friday to reach the final while Southern Huntingdon’s Kole Winfield will wrestle for seventh place.
Ryan has won all three state tournament bouts so far by fall. A clear favorite heading into the tournament, he now has the chance to realize the dream of winning a state championship.
Winfield also achieved his goal of placing at states. There may be disappointment in the moment of not being able to place higher, but ending your career on the medal stand at Hershey is something to be proud of.
Also in action Friday were Tussey Mountain’s Damon Lemin and Huntingdon’s Myles Baney. Each lost their first match to end the season.
Ryan (39-1) took two steps Friday to reach the state championship match. Ryan opened in the quarters with Matt Long of Union City.
Ryan showed some of his quickness as well as power in this one. After exchanging points, a reversal put Ryan up 4-2 after two minutes.
Ryan led 8-4 heading to the third. This one seemed in hand but a flurry of moves at the end made it exciting.
With the score 9-5, Long came up with two points and two back points. In no time at all though, Ryan was back on top with a reversal and resounding pin at 4:58.
After waiting through the afternoon and into the evening Ryan was back on the mat for the semifinals. His opponent was Derrick Skeehan (29-5) the Northwest Region runner-up from Reynolds.
Despite being the one pushing the offense and trying to score, Ryan was down 1-0 in the second period. It was only a matter of time though. Ryan grabbed hold of the head to put Skeehan down and won by fall at 2:48.
“I don’t get nervous or worried. I know I’m going to come back. Last year every match that I won at states I was down,” commented Ryan.
“I want to make the Ryan family proud and keep the tradition going. Coach (Corey) Wertz always says don’t worry about this match, don’t look ahead, wrestle smart. I have to thank him, my brothers, my dad, my whole family for coming to support me. Hopefully I can get it done for them.”
Winfield (32-6) faced off with Northeast Region champion Quinton Lear of Southern Columbia in the quarterfinals. It was a tough one as Winfield was unable to score and Lear won 3-0.
That put Winfield in the consys where he ran into Marion Center’s Marvin Beatty once again. Winfield has beaten Beatty three times this season including at districts and regionals.
Nothing’s a given though as Winfield led 2-1 after the first period. An escape and technical violation on Beatty made the score 4-1. Beatty reversed to trail 4-3 in the third but Winfield made it to his feet for a 5-3 decision.
The win meant Winfield would wrestle to place at states, it was just a matter of where. The next match was against Jalen Stephens (39-5) of Meyersdale. In the Thomas Tournament final Stephens took a 3-1 decision over Winfield.
In the second period Stephens got an escape and then two points right at the edge of the circle. Winfield got up in the third but Stephens scored again off a shot by Winfield to go ahead 5-1 and finish the decision.
“We’re in the top eight and we had a feeling coming in that we could do that. This is a pretty tough heavyweight crowd this year. We’re proud of him,” Southern Huntingdon head coach Andy Hull said.
The seventh-place bout will see Winfield against Emmanuel Lawal (33-5), the Southeast Region runner-up from Church Farm School.
Lemin (29-9) got his Hershey win Thursday to come back for day two. In the consolations he faced Elijah Ayers of Coudersport.
Ayers worked his way to scoring two points and three more for a 5-0 lead after the first period. Lemin got the escape in the second period but that would be his only points. Ayers went on to an 8-1 decision.
Lemin finished his senior year at Hershey and leaves the Titans with a 52-32 career record.
Baney (33-11) won his first bout Thursday before a loss put him in the consolations. The sophomore got a taste of competition at states and will be looking for more next year.
Baney and Cameron Whisner, from Kane, each scored two points in the first period. Whisner took control in the second and built a 7-2 lead. He took a 10-2 major decision.
After two years Baney owns a 50-26 record.