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Kyle Barnes falls in 145-pound PIAA final

March 10, 2012 - Mitch Rupert

HERSHEY – Kyle Barnes looked almost lost to find the words to describe his state final loss. How do you explain exactly what went wrong when you lose 13-3 to someone like Juniata’s Zach Beitz?

The Hughesville junior tried to find that explanation, but there just wasn’t one.

“Misjudged him I guess, completely,” Barnes said.

Barnes walked out of the Giant Center on Saturday with a silver medal from the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships that was both disappointing and full of possibilities in the same breath. He was taken down six times by Beitz, a three-time state placewinner bound for Penn State, in the 145-pound final. He had his offense completely shut down by Beitz’s reach. Beitz scored even when Barnes got in deep on a shot.

There was just never an opportunity for Barnes to take a breath of fresh air and make a charge. Beitz led, 6-2, after the first period and 10-3 after two periods. All three of Barnes’ points came when Beitz cut him from the bottom.

“I needed to score my own points,” Barnes said. “That would have helped me boost my own confidence.”

Barnes has never been one to lack confidence. He was 40-0 this season entering Saturday’s and had never had the perplexed look on the mat like he had yesterday.

He got to his tie-ups where he can get to his Russian tie and his shrug only to watch Beitz’s superior reach get an ankle pick for an easy takedown. He tried to stay away from Beitz to negate that reach differential only to watch Beitz still get to an ankle.

Of Beitz’s six takedowns, three were on ankle picks. Beitz became just the second state champion from Juniata with the win.

“The coaches train me to use my length to my advantage because I am longer,” Beitz said. “So use the leverage and work the ankle picks. The reach is a big help for all my shots.”

“He was a lot stronger than I anticipated,” Barnes said. “He controlled the match. I was wrestling to his strengths in every way.”

After the final buzzer Barnes walked calmly to shake the hands of the Juniata coaches before walking back to shake the hands of Hughesville coaches Steve Budman and Woody Fry. The whole time a look of bewilderment blanketed Barnes’ face – along with some dried-up blood, the wounds from a physically demanding season.

Barnes said in reality, he probably needed a wake-up call like the one which was provided by Beitz. It’s something that’s going to allow him to refocus for his senior year when he hopes to make one more run at becoming Hughesville’s first state champion since Greg Budman in 1990.

“He’s a great wrestler. It’s tough to say that I need my butt beat,” Barnes said. “Getting beat up for six minutes, I needed that.”

Barnes never froze under the bright lights of a stage like the state tournament despite being a first-time qualifier. In fact, he thrived off of it. He did some of his best wrestling of the season at the Giant Center. He just happened to run into a better wrestler Saturday.

And despite the disappointment of his only loss of the season, Barnes called it a successful weekend. “This whole thing was awesome,” he said. “Everything about it, except for the losing part, but everything else I can build off of.

“I always knew I was capable of it. I didn’t show it in previous years. Now, my first year out in states making it to the state final shows a lot. It tells a lot to the people that I’ll be seeing them next year.”


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