The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

March 1, 2014

Wrestling: 10 locals advance to Hershey in Class AA

WILLIAMSPORT — Although he has experienced it twice this season and 25 times in his career, Milton’s Ryan Preisch hates to lose.

But when he found himself in a bit of an early predicament in his 160-pound championship bout Saturday night in the Northeast Regional Tournament, Preisch was never worried.

And it was not because he knew he had a state tournament berth in hand. He just didn’t want to lose.

The senior and now three-time regional champion worked his way into a stalemate, and then cruised from there to a 5-0 win over Benton senior Jeric Kasunic.

“I wasn’t concerned at all. I felt fine in that position. I didn’t think I was going to give anything up there,” Preisch said.

Preisch was one of five Valley wrestlers to win titles and one of 10 to earn berths in the state championship tournament, which begins Thursday morning in Hershey.

The Valley’s other champions were Line Mountain’s Cameron Newman (113), Southern Columbia’s Todd Lane at 120 and his cousin, Kent Lane, at 138; and Mifflinburg’s Cole Walter (152).

The top three place-winners advanced to the state tournament.

The 160-pound final pitted two skilled veterans, as Preisch came into the bout with a record of 136-25 to Kasunic’s 126-40.

Preisch said he believes that the familiarity for both wrestlers with one another works more to Kasunic’s benefit.

“I think he has more of the advantage because all he has to do is try to change what he did that got me to score the points. He’s got to adjust some things where I have to wrestle the same and keep doing my thing.

“He knows what he has to change to win,” said Preisch, who beat Kasunic for the third week in a row.

Preisch placed third in last year’s state tournament and takes a 37-2 record into his last one.

Walter defeated Southern’s Blake Marks in the final for the third week in a row while Midd-West senior Alex Lieberman forfeited in the final because of a shoulder injury.

Finishing third to move on to Hershey were Lewisburg’s Ryan Gessner (113), Warrior Run’s Zack LeBarron (120) and Lewisburg’s Max Reed (160).

Freshman Todd Lane improved from his third-place showing in last week’s district championships. He knocked off top seed Zack LeBarron in the semis and forged a workmanlike 6-0 decision over Benton’s Mike Stuart in the final.

“It feels great to win my first regional title,” Todd Lane said.

“I’m pretty sure it’s just hydration, I think that is where it hurt me,” Lane added. “It really helped me this week, helped me feel relaxed.”

Kent Lane overcame a brief disappointment in his semifinal with South Williamsport’s Nathan Jones to roll to a technical fall (15-0) in 4 minutes, 43 seconds. He cruised to a 7-1 win over Bloomsburg’s Cody Klinger in the final.

Against Jones, it appeared momentarily as if Lane had pinned the Mountaineer with a cradle at the first-period buzzer, but the side judge waived it off.

Lane, a returning state sixth-place finisher, took his 5-0 lead into the second period, scored eight points in the second and finished it up with a reversal and three near-fall points in the third.

“I was having trouble generating my offense and then I ended up with a cradle and I had him on his back and I thought he was pinned, but I guess the buzzer blew,” he said.

But, rather than dwell on that, he used the adrenaline to his advantage.

“I just smelled blood and I knew I could put him on his back all day, so that’s what I kind of did. I got on top, got to my turn and turned him all day long,” he said.

Walter was a ball of fire and proved too hot to handle for Marks as he was in total control in a 9-3 decision.

He had two first-period takedowns to an escape for Marks, added another takedown in the second, and then tacked on an escape and takedown in the third.

Walter said his coaches urged him to go for a technical fall, and he pushed hard from the opening whistle to try to achieve that goal.

“I wanted to pick up the pace and score as many points as I could,” said Walter (40-2), a two-time state place-winner.

“I knew he was going to come after me because I beat him the last two weeks, so I just knew I had to push the pace. That was the game plan, and that’s what I did,” Walter added.

Benton won the team title with 82 points and Southern was second with 60.5.

District 4 dominated as it has for years, advancing 37 wrestlers to five for D2 and winning 13 of the 14 titles.

Six Valley wrestlers fell one win short of moving on to Hershey, including returning state qualifier Brian Friery of Lewisburg at 106. Friery lost 2-1 to fellow sophomore Angelo Barberio of Muncy.

The other fourth-place finishers included Warrior Run’s Eric Hunt, who fell 5-2 to Gessner at 113; Warrior Run’s Brian LeBarron, a 3-1 loser to Wyoming Area’s Charles Johnson at 126; Danville’s David Burke, a 5-4 loser to Lake-Lehman’s Derek Dragon at 170; Milton’s Gage Heller, a 3-2 overtime loser to Hughesville’s Matt Herr at 182; and Milton’s Brandon Stokes, a 3-2 loser to Western Wayne’s Austin Swoyer at 195.

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