By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
MILTON -- As he warmed up for his matches during the season, Milton senior Ryan Solomon wore a shirt bearing the name "Francis."
Some joked that he didn't want opponents to know who he was.
Too late, Ryan. That ship sailed at least four years ago.
Besides, this is a teenager who has his own larger than life billboard in downtown Milton.
For those who have lived underground in recent years, Solomon won his second PIAA Class AA 195-pound state championship last month, two of four state medals for his career. If that were not enough, he also became his school's career wins leader this season, topping legendary four-time state champion Bobby Crawford.
For his outstanding season, which included a 40-0 record and a win in the prestigious Dapper Dan Classic in Pittsburgh, Solomon is The Daily Item Wrestler of the Year.
In addition, Warrior Run's Wayne Smythe and Lewisburg's Jim Snyder are the Coaches of the Year.
The humble Solomon, son of Greg and Kelly Solomon, would never have commissioned a billboard to honor his accomplishments.
Nevertheless, he said this week, "I like the fact that there is a billboard. It is promoting Milton sports, but there are many other individuals and teams that have accomplished a great deal this year."
And yet, his friends have taken notice. "They do tease me a little bit, but it's all in good fun."
Solomon had a lot of fun his four years as a Black Panther. He was one of the Valley's best football players (a standout at guard and linebacker) and this spring, he decided to join the high school baseball team as a pitcher.
The goal-driven Solomon was not completely happy when, as a freshman and sophomore, he didn't win the state wrestling title. But it looks pretty good to reflect on the rare accomplishment of four state medals. He was sixth as a freshman and a runner-up as a sophomore.