By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
Mifflinburg’s Walter brothers dreamed of winning PIAA gold medals in their final trip to Hershey together.
It didn’t happened that way, but they both returned from the Giant Center with medals.
Ty, a senior headed for Cornell University, battled back from a semifinal loss to eventual champion Cody Law of Forest Hills and placed third with a 1-0 win over Taylor Fox of Fort LeBoeuf on Saturday afternoon.
His brother, sophomore Cole, battling an injury which has caused breathing problems gutted out a 4-1 consolation win that gave him a seventh-place finish.
“It’s not exactly the way we envisioned ending the season, but we both got on the medal stand and I guess that’s what’s important,” said Ty Walter, who finished his final season 37-5.
Seven other Valley wrestlers were among the medal winners as the three-day tournament ended.
Three made the championship round, with Milton’s Ryan Solomon winning his second gold at 195. Line Mountain’s Seth Lansberry (138) and Lewisburg’s Brandon Smith (220) were beaten in the finals.
Milton junior Ryan Preisch (152) joined Ty Walter as a bronze medalist; Southern Columbia sophomore Kent Lane (126) was sixth; Line Mountain sophomore Cameron Newman (106) was seventh; and Southern freshman Blake Marks (152) took eighth.
For Ty Walter, the bronze medal was a step up from his previous two state tournament appearances, yet he was disappointed he couldn’t make the top of the podium. He was sixth as a sophomore, and failed to place last season. He was not satisfied with how he wrestled, despite the win in his final high school bout.
“I didn’t get in on my offense as much as I wanted to the last two matches, so I was a little disappointed with how it ended.”
He said the plan, if he couldn’t get his offense going, was he would ride the guy and win 1-0. He did that for the second period, following the plan to a ‘T’, and made a third-period escape stand up for the win.
“It worked out. I was just kind of trying to play defense as much as possible and I was wrestling offense just enough that I wouldn’t get hit for stalling,” he added.
“(Fox) really didn’t want anything to do with my shot, and the way he reacted on my jukes was almost detrimental to me scoring.”
He added, “I really wanted to be on the top of the podium and anything else is just the same to me, but I know I will look back on it and be glad that I came back and got third. I’m just glad I was able to come back and win those last two matches.”
His brother, who was third last season, went after South Park’s Jake Wentzel from the get-go, scoring an early takedown, then getting another in the second period for a 4-1 win.
Cole wanted a gold, but when he got into the third-fourth bout, he said, “It was the last match of the year, so I couldn’t do anything about it.”
He said his coaches told him, “Go out and wrestle as hard as you can until you pass out.”
He said the nagging injury occurred in the regional semifinal a week earlier. “I was trying to keep my pace and get my breathing back.
“I was trying to score as many points in the first period as I could so I could try to back off and try to just make it through the match,” he said.
Adding insult to injury, Wentzel chopped his elbow which caused him to take even more injury time.
Preisch didn’t dominate fellow District 4 wrestler Kyle Barnes of Hughesville, a returning silver medalist, this time, but scored a third-period takedown to win 3-1.
“Once I was in on the shot, I knew I was in deep and I wasn’t going to let him go,” Preisch said, “because I was definitely finishing that one.”
He said it’s difficult to speculate if he would have been better off wrestling an unknown, but, he said, “I just had to wrestle my (kind of) match, and do what I do.”
After failing to medal a year ago, Preisch want to do more than just medal, he wanted gold. “Bronze is nice, …but I want a gold so bad.”
Lane, a returning state qualifier, fell 10-5 in overtime. Jarray Norris of Sharon got an escape in the final seconds of regulation to tie it at 5-all, then took Lane to his back for a five-pointer in OT.
He had a cradle on Norris in the first period, but didn’t get any points.
“I wasn’t sure — I thought that was points there — and I had another cradle but you can’t let the refs decide the match,” Lane said.
He said Norris, in addition to being short and stocky, was extremely strong, and Lane’s style didn’t match Norris, who was “muscle, muscle.”
Newman, also a state qualifier last year, was tied at 1-1 with TyShawn White of Bishop McDevitt when the latter took him down in overtime for a 3-1 win.
“This was obviously an improvement from last year but obviously I have to train harder, more intense,” Newman said.
He said of White’s winning takedown, “I wasn’t ready for it.”
Newman was quick on all of the starts, seemingly right on the whistle.
“I was trying to get on him right away, get the pace going in the match,” he said.
He escaped early the third period, but couldn’t do anything with White. “I had a lot of time to get my offense going, but he tied up my arms and took my offense away.”
Marks was also taken down late, on a counter, to lose 3-2 to Andrew Doak of Biglerville.
“My goal was to go out there and get a win; I wanted my last match of the season to be a win. I went out there, I gave it my all and I just came out on the short side. I thought I wrestled pretty well, I just gave up a takedown in the last 40 seconds and that was the match.
“The whole match I wrestled on one knee because I knew exactly what he was going to do. He was going to shoot to my right leg with a high crotch, and I knew it was coming but I came in on a shot and he just countered it and he came back on a re-shot and took me down,” he said.