"It feels great to finally achieve my goals. The past two years have been especially great. To get to the top of the podium in the state of Pennsylvania is pretty awesome," he said.
"I do feel pride in what I have accomplished. I know I wanted to achieve more, but overall, I feel proud and blessed of what I have accomplished."
The University of Pittsburgh-bound Solomon said winning two state titles has made a difference in his life, but not in a way that made him feel superior.
"I have the opportunity to get a great education at a great university through wrestling," he said.
And leave a legacy as well, a high standard for future Black Panthers.
His high school coach, former Milton state place-winner Mike Snyder, rarely talked about Solomon without mentioning how good of a person, beyond his skills as a wrestler.
He credited Solomon, among others, for working with younger wrestlers, even to the point where they attended registration sessions for the youth wrestlers.
Oh, and what about that shirt with the mystery name?
Solomon wore it in honor of his best friend, a classmate and another outstanding Milton athlete, Chad Diggan (basketball, baseball).
"His middle name is Francis. He is my closest friend and he is a great athlete, too," Solomon said.
n Coaches of the Year
Both Smythe and Snyder guided young teams to outstanding dual meet seasons, competing in the rugged Heartland Athletic Conference Division II, where they had to take second and third fiddle to veteran Central Columbia and Benton squads.
Smythe picked up the 500th win of his career in the Jersey Shore Duals in January. He finished his 43rd year as a head coach (all but one of them at Warrior Run) with a career record of 508-291-8.
The Defenders were 17-4 this season.
Snyder, now in his 21st year coaching the Green Dragons, got his own milestone in the final dual meet of last season, pinning down his 100th career victory. This year's squad, posted the second-best mark in program history at 20-6.
n Sports editor Harold Raker covers high school wrestling for The Daily Item. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.