The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

High School Sports

December 18, 2012

H.S. wresting: Solomon win over Smith highlight's Milton win

MILTON — Milton’s Ryan Solomon has been battling with Lewisburg’s Brandon Smith since they first began entering elementary tournaments so many years ago. Solomon has owned the edge on Smith for most of that time, especially during their stellar high school careers.

In what was likely their final meeting on the mats, Solomon once again prevailed Tuesday night.

With the Green Dragons’ 45-28 triumph over Milton already locked up, Solomon bumped up to 220 pounds and, in the last bout of the night, displayed his superior attack and impenetrable defense in a 5-1 decision over Smith.

“He and I have wrestled so many times since elementary school,” said Solomon, who was at a nearly 25-pound weight disadvantage. “It’s always a grudge match, either way. For me, it’s just a matter of executing the things I know.”

That execution included a takedown at the edge of the mat with 32 seconds left in the first period and — after getting off the bottom midway through the second period — another takedown for a 5-0 lead entering the third. Smith managed an escape but Solomon never allowed him to connect on a big move in the final minute.

“(Tuesday) I learned that Ryan Solomon is going to win a second (state) title,” Lewisburg coach Jim Snyder said. “He’s impossible to score on; he’s in great position all the time; he’s tough. Nobody is going to beat him. I thought that with the weight (Solomon) was giving away that this was Brandon’s best shot (to win). But (Solomon) looked every bit as big as (Smith) and he looked a hair stronger.”

Milton coach Mike Snyder had no qualms about sending out his Pitt-bound senior against the bigger Smith.

“We are heading to the Beast (of the East tournament) this weekend and trying to win a state title later and a match like this is part of the process,” the Black Panthers coach said. “Brandon is a phenomenal wrestler, a great kid, and he’s the kind of opponent Ryan needs to wrestle as many times as he can. If we had an opportunity to make this (match) happen, we were going to do it. It’s good for both of them because (Smith) has a chance to win a state title. It’s good for the two of them, good for the fans, good for the sport.”

Snyder said before the match that another Solomon-Smith confrontation was going to happen unless his Black Panthers (1-1) had a chance to secure a team victory with a fall by Solomon at 195. That didn’t happen because Lewisburg’s Dante Taylor and Steve Gingher saved bonus points earlier in the match and Max Reed and Nick Bernstein earned key victories in the upper weights.

Taylor fought off his back four times in a 14-7 loss to Milton’s Hunter Snyder at 126, and Gingher stayed away from Taylor Porter’s big moves while losing a 15-5 major decision.

“We tell these guys in the locker room, ‘If you don’t get pinned, that’s a win for us,’” Jim Snyder said. “Sometimes that’s hard to sell to a high school kid. But some (Taylor and Gingher) did that; they battled.”

Reed converted three takedowns in a 10-5 decision over Milton freshman Brandon Stokes at 170, and Bernstein followed with a second-period fall over another Black Panthers freshman, Gage Heller.

“We thought we had to bump Reed and Bernstein up a weight and those guys came through,” Jim Snyder said. “Max is so athletic and that gives kids problems.”

Milton, plagued by holes in its lineup in recent years, once again gave up four forfeits. Still, the Black Panthers won six of the 10 bouts wrestled and held a 15-7 advantage in takedowns.

“I thought we could win eight or nine bouts, on paper, and we won six.” Mike Snyder said. “We let two bouts get away in the upper weights but I thought we wrestled well.”

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