The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 17, 2014

High school wrestling: Baker posts pivotal win for Shikellamy

By Harold Raker

The Daily Item

SUNBURY -- A young fan approached Shikellamy's AJ Baker Thursday night and asked, "Did you win?''

Baker calmly answered "yes" and seemed almost embarrassed when the young boy extended his hand.

Yes, son, Baker did win. But this was not your garden variety win. The Braves sophomore 170-pounder had his hand raised in victory only once before this season and had lost 13 times.

The story behind his second win is one for the family scrapbook.

Baker's team trailed Mifflinburg 9-0 after two bouts and Baker trailed Mifflinburg senior Ryan Gessner 12-1. Twice he came within a couple of hairs of getting pinned, and putting the Wildcats up 15-0 in the key Heartland Athletic Conference Division I match.

Baker valiantly fought to stay alive then stunned the crowd at the Phil Lockcuff Gymnasium with one of wrestling's oldest moves.

Baker reversed Gessner into a headlock and got the pin in 3 minutes, 32 seconds.

Both coaches, Mifflinburg's Dave Murray and Shikellamy's John Supsic, said that dramatic turnaround was a key to the Braves' 39-31 victory.

"A swing like that definitely impacted the team," Murray said. He added that Gessner realizes it is an area he has to work on, and he needs to have a short memory.

Supsic said, "That was huge, he was wrestling a tough kid and AJ's been struggling all season. He didn't quit though. I give him credit. It was the turning point of the match. It made the difference.

"He kept fighting and that's what we teach," he said after his team improved to 6-6 overall, 4-0 HAC-I.

Indeed, the Braves' ability to fight their way out of pinning combinations on several occasions -- and pins by Shikellamy's Kayleb Shirk (182), Dwayne Pepper (220) and Jake Matthews (120) -- put the outcome into the hands of the Brave who is having the best season of anyone on the team.

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