Milton's Ryan Solomon became the first wrestler in the history of the Black Panthers program to win a championship at the prestigious Beast of the?East tournament when he defeated Saucon Valley's Ray O'Donnell, 3-1, in the 195-pound final on Sunday.
Solomon, the defending PIAA?Class AA 195-pound champion, was the top seed in his weight class and was one of two Milton wrestlers to place. Junior Ryan Preisch finished eighth at 152 pounds for the Black Panthers, going 4-3.
Solomon beat a pair of nationally-ranked wrestlers Sunday on his way to his first Beast title. In his morning quarterfinal, he defeated Good?Counsel's Spencer Neff, 10-0. He followed it up with a 4-1 win over Don Bosco Prep's Razohn Gross, the fourth seed in the tournament who is ranked 19th in the country.
Solomon then defeated O'Donnell, who is ranked eighth in the country, in the final. O'Donnell beat Blair Academy's Frank Mattiace, the tournament's second seed and the third-ranked 195-pounder in the country, 6-2, in the semifinals.
His win over O'Donnell was the second for Solomon in less than a year. Solomon, who will wrestle at Pittsburgh next year, also defeated the Saucon Valley senior who will wrestle at Princeton next year, 4-2, in the PIAA?quarterfinals in March. O'Donnell went on to finish third at the PIAA?tournament last season, which followed his fourth-place finish in 2011.
O'Donnell is currently ranked second in the state behind Solomon in the Class AA 195-pound rankings by papowerwrestling.com. And the two could meet again next weekend in the finals of the Hurricane Classic at Liberty High School in Bethlehem. O'Donnell and Solomon will be the only two nationally-ranked wrestlers in the 195-pound bracket.
After losing, 4-3, in the championship third round on Saturday, Preisch won three consecutive consolation matches to guarantee himself a top-eight finish. He lost to Central Dauphin's Austin Rose, a returning PIAA?Class AAA qualifier, in overtime to fall to the seventh-place consolation.
He lost to Massillon Perry's (Ohio) Tony Dailey in the seventh-place match, 7-1. Perry had also beaten Preisch in the championship bracket, 4-3.