Preisch tops Barnes for third

HERSHEY The words coming out of Ryan Preisch’s mouth following his third-place finish Saturday were ones Milton head coach Mike Snyder is really going to enjoy hearing.

He wasn’t satisfied with the bronze medal hanging around his neck. Happy? Sure he was happy. He had just won his first career state medal and finished his season with a 3-1 win over fellow District 4 wrestler Kyle Barnes of Hughesville.

But satisfied? Not even close.

“There’s tons left for me to prove,” Preisch said. “You can win gold, or you can dominate doing it. I want to dominate.”

Preisch spent the last four weeks trying to make up for what was a disappointing end to his sophomore season a year ago, and he did so winning sectional, district and regional titles. He really wanted to make his mark Friday night in his semifinal against Reynolds’ Austin Matthews, but lost 16-7 to the eventual 152-pound state champion.

His win over Barnes on Saturday afternoon at the Giant Center in the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships was the next step in his progression to gaining his ultimate goal. He was able to smile about the work and adjustments he made to go from being 1-2 at the state tournament to finishing third. But behind that smile was a scowl that said, ‘just wait until next year.’

“I felt like (third) was the only option I had,” Preisch said. “I wanted gold really bad. I’m going to work hard to take that next step. I’m going to go for it and get gold next year.”

His match with Barnes was much like the first time the two wrestled a week ago in the semifinals of the Northeast Regional tournament. Not a whole lot happened on their feet early and each traded escapes in the second and third periods.

Preisch made a big move, though, getting to a single leg and spinning behind Barnes for a takedown with just over a minute to go to top the returning state runner-up 3-1. It was Preisch’s second win over Barnes this year.

Barnes’ fourth-place finish was the second state medal of his career. His run to the third-place match included four consecutive wins in the consolation bracket on Thursday and Friday, including two elimination matches.

“I knew a takedown was going to win the match, and he did a little more to get it,” Barnes said. “He’s got a nice front head defense. It’s hard to get past a guy like that.”


Maybe it was the tough way to learn the lesson, but Canton’s Garrett Wesneski learned through the course of his first trip to the PIAA tournament points have to be treated like a valued family treasure. The junior lost his three matches in Hershey by a combined five points.

But Wesneski walked out of the Giant Center on Saturday with his first career state medal, an eighth-place finish at 182 pounds. He said it was a great learning experience to understand just what it is he needs to correct in order to place higher next year.

“Down here you can’t get away with giving up the cheap points,” he said. “It costs you later on. It’s the little things I have to work on over the summer so I can get better.”

In his two win Wesneski accomplished exactly what he wanted to by scoring points in bunches. He scored a combined 23 points in his two wins, and just nine in his three losses.

It’s the type of match he wants to create. He doesn’t want to be in those one or two-point matches.

“I was offensive. I like to score tons of points,” said Wesneski, who finished the year 34-5 despite missing a couple weeks with a knee injury. “I turned quite a few people. Some matches it just costs you when you give up the cheap points.

“I think it’s a good confidence booster for next year. Once I knew I could hang with these guys, losing matches by a point or two makes me a little angry knowing I should have won.”


Muncy’s Skylar Ebner found a little extra gas in the tank in the final match of his high school career Saturday. He was so hell bent on not losing his final match that he was able to come up with a big move when he needed it.

Ebner hit a reversal in tie-break against Somerset’s Jacob Nickelson to win, 5-4, and finish his career with a seventh-place finish in the Class AA 195-pound tournament.

“I didn’t want to end on a loss,” Ebner said. “That was the big thing. I wanted to go out on top.”

The wrestler who broke into Muncy’s lineup as a freshman 125-pounder, became a force in the upperweights the final three years of his career after some tutelage from former Muncy state champion Ryan Hembury.

He hit his patented headlock Friday morning to score the points he needed in a tight match to guarantee his first state medal. He scored 17 points in his first match at the state tournament and lost by just one point in the consolation quarterfinals to Moshannon Valley’s James Stodard, who went on to finish fourth.

“This definitely means a lot to me,” said Ebner, who’s weighing offers to wrestle at various Division III schools after a 100-win career. “I’m happy where I’m at. I’m definitely satisfied.”