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Fry, Barberio move on with third-place finishes
March 2, 2014 - Mitch Rupert
Euphoria coursed through Zach Fry’s body as he climbed to his after hearing the official’s hand slap the mat. He turned toward the Hughesville fans halfway across the Magic Dome and flexed every muscle in his arms and chest.
It was as if Atlas was able to put down the celestial sphere for a minute. The Hughesville sophomore had been struggling with the pressures of being a returning state qualifier through the first two weeks of the postseason, but with his fall in the third-place consolation at 132 pounds Saturday at the PIAA Class AA Northeast Regional tournament, Fry could relax.
He’s headed back to the Giant Center for a second consecutive year after finishing third in one of the most talent-laden weight class in the region. It took a one-point win over Midd-West’s Tanner Ebright in the consolation semifinals and a fall over returning state qualifier Collin Edsell in the third-place consolation to earn the return trip to Hershey, but now that he’s got his entry, he’s no longer carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
“My body hasn’t felt right. Mentally, I’ve been nervous all the time. It’s a lot of pressure,” Fry said after receiving his medal. “In school everyone asks me if I’m going to make states and how I’m going to do. Mentally, it’s a lot of pressure. Physically, it’s just been rough.”
By qualifying for the state tournament, Fry can hit reset on his season. The past three weeks don’t matter, and frankly, he said his finish the last three weeks didn’t much to him anyway, not in a star-studded field like the 132-pound weight class.
He knew no matter who finished in the top three spots — Lake-Lehman’s Austin Harry was first, Montoursville’s Keith Batkowski was second — the representatives in Hershey were going to be able to win matches, and many of them.
“It’s a lot of relief (to qualify for states),” Fry said. “The goal is to get to states. And this year the goal is to medal at states, not to be a district champ, or a regional champ. I don’t really care about that.”
But Fry and his coaches know he’s going to have to open up his offense if he wants to do better than his 1-2 performance in last year’s state tournament. It’s a demon he’s been fighting since back at sectionals when he lost to Batkowski in the finals.
Fry has to be more aggressively offensively to score points, especially against wrestlers he’s run into who have tried to slow the pace on him and keep matches close.
“See, I wouldn’t be satisfied with a 1-0 win like some guys. I want to score points and open up,” Fry said. “The coaches want me to look to open up. They want me to push them to where they have to open up or take a bad shot.”
Muncy’s Angelo Barberio has been fighting the same demons at times through the postseason. Even after he won a sectional title three weeks ago he talked about the need to open up offensively.
The sophomore didn’t score a ton of points in his 106-pound third-place consolation, but he scored enough. Barberio scored an escape and another point for a technical violation and made it stand up to beat Lewisburg’s Brian Friery, 2-1, to advance to his first state tournament.
Barberio was emotional as he stepped off the podium and received a hug from his brother, Anthony. He also got a hug from former Muncy junior high coach Seth Kanaskie who is now a varsity assistant at Danville.
“I still want to be No. 1, but it’s definitely a heck of an accomplishment,” Barberio said. “All of the hard work and all of the offseason work really paid off in the end.”
For a program which once went 26 years between state medalists, Barberio and Dakota Nixon have the chance to five the Indians a state placewinner for the seventh consecutive season under head coach Denny Harer. It’s not a fact that is lost on Barberio who cited help of state placewinners before him for setting the bar high for himself.
“I’d like to follow Zack Strickland and Ryan Hembury’s example. They taught me how to work hard back when I was in junior high,” Barberio said. “When I went to the Giant Center in the past, I knew at that moment I wanted to step on the mat in that arena. Hershey is like a heaven in Pennsylvania to me. I just wanted to get there, so I kept working harder and it paid off.”
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Muncy's Angelo Barberio celebrates Saturday at Williamsport High School after finishing in third place at the PIAA Class AA Northeast Regional tournament to qualify for the state tournament.