Milton’s Preisch among D4 AA wrestling champs

Every step Ryan Preisch took seemed calculated. There was meaning behind every step, and a purpose to anything he did this weekend at Williamsport High School’s gymnasium.

He walked around like he was on a mission. The Milton junior admitted he was Saturday night. The goal is clear and concise and it’s about the only thing he’s focused on when the Resilite is on the floor.

“I have that goal that I really want to meet,” Preisch said. “Getting gold this year is what I want.”

He took the second step in that process Saturday night, winning his second consecutive District 4 championship at 152 pounds, dismantling Southern Columbia freshman Blake Marks in the final for the second consecutive week.

Preisch was one of six local champions Saturday night at the District 4 Class AA wrestling tournament. He joined Warrior Run’s Zack LeBarron (106 pounds), Eric Hunt (113), Muncy’s Troy Hembury (182), Milton’s Ryan Solomon (195) and Lewisburg’s Brandon Smith (220) as local champions.

Muncy’s Angelo Barberio (106), Williamson’s Logan Everett (126) and Billy Barnes (145), North Penn’s Ben Minnich (170), Wellsboro’s Chad Daugherty (195) and Warrior Run’s Garrett Moser (182) all earned district silver medals.

In all, 33 local wrestlers placed in the top five in the tournament to move on to next weekend’s Northeast Regional tournament. Benton won the team title with 127 points. Central Columbia was second with 119. Williamson was the top local finisher in fourth with 84 points. Warrior Run was fifth with 83.

Preisch managed to dominate a top-heavy 152-pound bracket which included a surprise opponent for him in the final after Marks upset returning state runner-up Kyle Barnes of Hughesville with a fall in the semifinals.

“I feel good. I’ve felt good the last couple weeks,” Preisch said. “I’ve got a goal this year and I’m trying to make it.”

With two more weekends like the one he had Friday and Saturday, he’s got a good chance. It’s a goal he set ever since losing to Blairsville’s Andrew Doak in the second round of consolations at the state tournament year ago, knocking him out of medal contention.

He said he wrestled last year with the goal of just getting to Hershey for the state tournament. Now he’s wrestling with larger goals, gold-colored goals, and he’s on a mission to meet that goal. So when he moves about the Magic Dome, there doesn’t seem to be a step which isn’t calculated. He’s always working toward a greater good.

He dominated Troy’s Nick Stephani, a wrestler who had previously lost just one bout, in the morning semifinals, 14-2. And in the finals, he controlled all three phases of the match, setting up his shots and getting to the legs of Marks quite easily to record four takedowns. Marks’ only point came when Preisch cut him to score another takedown.

It was the second consecutive week Preisch beat Marks with a dominating 9-1 score, with last week’s coming in the South Sectional final.

“If you don’t win the battle on your feet, you’re not going to win the match,” Preisch said. “Your feet is the most common place you’re going to be, so you have to wrestle well there.”

The field which Preisch faced this week and next is exactly what he said he wants to see in order to prepare to make that run at a gold medal in Hershey. When told because of their first and third-place finishes that he would likely face Barnes in the semifinals at regionals next week, without hesitation Preisch said he was excited.

When asked why, his answer was quite succinct.

“Because he’s good,” Preisch said.

Preisch said he feels like he still has to prove himself on a big stage, despite having qualified for the state tournament a year ago. That’s why the district tournament this weekend and next weekend’s Northeast Regional tournament are so important.

No win seems more important to Preisch than the next one. And by the way he’s wrestling and the way he carries himself, it’s not hard to determine that.

“I want to leave no doubt,” Preisch said. “The goal is to get on the mat and off as quick as possible.”

The Black Panthers’ other Ryan combined with Preisch to help push Milton to a seventh-place state finish. Solomon picked up his third consecutive District 4 title by absolutely dismantling a 195-pound field that isn’t about to catch up to the No. 1-ranked 195-pounder in the country.

Solomon pinned Muncy’s Skylar Ebner in the morning semifinals in 46 seconds, and followed it Saturday night with a fall – his sixth in six postseason matches – over Wellsboro’s Chad Daugherty in 3:42. It was just the second time since the new year in which Solomon recorded a fall that did not come in less than a minute.

“I got great coaches and they push me hard in the room and they know to never take a person lightly,” Solomon said. “As far as anyone’s concerned, when you come into Williamsport, they’re zero and zero. The coaches do a great job of keeping me focused and letting me know what I need to do.”