A year ago, Jordan Gessner wouldn't have been able to pull off what he did Saturday at the District 4 Class AA wrestling tournament. It's not that he wasn't talented enough to do it, but he just wasn't big enough.
A true 106-pounder for Lewisburg as a freshman a year ago, Gessner was pushed to 113 pounds for the postseason because he couldn't beat out state qualifier Brian Friery for the spot at 106. Now, Gessner is right at home at 113 pounds. He weighed in at 115 pounds on the nose, the maximum weight for the 113-pound weight class.
His run through the 113-pound consolation bracket was maybe the most impressive performance of any wrestler at the district tournament. Included in his four wins was a decision victory over regional fourth-place finisher Corey Stauffer of Midd-West, a decision victory over Warrior Run state qualifier Eric Hunt, and a decision victory over Montgomery's Kyle Drick.
Jordan Gessner of Lewisburg, top, reached this week’s Northeast Class AA?regional with a third-place finish in the rough 113-pound bracket at districts.
Gessner finished third in the tournament, but it was definitely a gold-medal performance.
"I was just trying to let it all out there," Gessner said. "I knew I didn't have anything to lose because coming in everyone was pretty much even. So I was just trying to do my best and hopefully win."
"He put it all together. He really had a great weekend," Lewisburg head coach Jim Snyder said. "He's been just missing beating those kids his entire career so far. But to beat three of them back to back to back, that's impressive."
Interestingly enough, Saturday's run was probably born out of a loss in Friday night's quarterfinals. Gessner lost in the overtime tie-break to state placewinner Cameron Newman on Friday night in the quarterfinals. But it was that loss which seemed to flip a switch for Gessner.
He wrestled all day Saturday with more confidence. He pushed the pace. In a weight class which featured three returning state qualifiers, a regional fourth-place finisher and a senior the caliber of Drick who's won 80 matches in three seasons, Gessner stood out from the pack.
"He believes after (Saturday). I couldn't see how he wouldn't feel like he belongs," Snyder said. "Drick's a senior and he's seasoned and I like the way he wrestles. Eric Hunt's as good as it gets. Jordan put those three matches together and hopefully we can ride it to next week."
Gessner started Saturday just hoping to win enough matches to qualify for the regional tournament for the first time in his career. His ideas quickly changed, though. A 9-0 win over Southern Columbia's Noah Carl put him in a win-or-go-home match against Stauffer, who he lost to last week, 6-4.
But Gessner was on point offensively and defensively, winning 5-1. He won by the identical score against Hunt in the consolation semifinals guaranteeing his spot at regionals. Gessner had been 0-2 in his career against Hunt with a loss each of the last two years by a combined five points.
His 4-3 win over Drick in the consolation final made him one of just three wrestlers on Saturday to win four consecutive consolations matches to place third. The only others to do it were Troy's Nick Stephani at 160 pounds, and Hughesville's Ethan Barnes at 220.
"After I beat Stauffer, then it started to kick in that I might be able to get third," Gessner said. "I kept staying after it and was able to get it. It's helping me carry a lot of confidence into the regional tournament."
This kind of competition isn't new to Gessner, but finally getting over the hump and winning might be. He's used to tough matches every day working out with Lewisburg's Brian Friery, the Green Dragons' returning state qualifier.
He's used to butting heads with one of the most technically sound wrestlers in District 4, and one of the most dangerous on the mat. That competition has seemed to make Gessner comfortable in tight matches in high pressure situations like the ones he faced Saturday. It's just that this time, the results were finally there to prove it.
"I hope it translates into something real big for him next week," Snyder said. "He doesn't get too uptight about anything and that's why he can score and stay relaxed in some hairy positions. (Saturday) I think he beat the third, fourth and fifth seeds back to back to back. I'm hoping he has a good week and next week he does it again."