Ward performing well after injury
Reaching down, Timmy Ward adjusted the massive brace on his left leg. Asked whether it was his knee or ankle he banged up a month ago which nearly ended his season.
“Oh, it was both,” the Canton sophomore said. “Not fun.”
Ward very nearly never got to wrestle in the postseason because of the injuries he suffered at the New Oxford Tournament on Jan. 20. But he’ll be in attendance at the Magic Dome in Williamsport tonight for the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AA Northeast Regional, knee brace and all.
It’s been a trying few weeks for Ward, but he enters the tournament believing he’s capable of finishing in the top four at 152 pounds and earning a spot in next week’s state tournament. He’s not looking that far ahead, though. He can’t afford to. He’s just focused on wrestling as well as he possibly can for as many matches as he has to this weekend.
“You just got to trust everything you’ve done throughout the year, how you practice and how you work,” Ward said following his third-place finish at districts last week. “You have to trust the process.”
The process had Ward entering that New Oxford tournament in January with an 18-1 record with his lone loss coming to Montoursville’s Gable Crebs in a first week dual. He was quickly making an impact on District 4 wrestling a year after qualifying for the district tournament as a freshman.
He was on his way to a solid finish in maybe his most important tournament of the regular season when he hurt his knee and ankle during a consolation semifinals loss. Ward was forced to medically forfeit his fifth-place match in New Oxford, and he didn’t wrestle again until the North Section tournament two weeks ago.
He finished second at the sectional, dropping a 5-2 decision to Towanda’s Cooper Mosier. But it was the first step to coming back and performing as well as he could.
At districts last week, he took a disappointing loss in the quarterfinals to Midd-West’s Wyatt Bassett. It set him up for one of the best consolation bracket runs of the entire tournament. Ward took down 26-win Jacob Busch, 28-win Joe Doss and 29-win Cooper Mosier to earn his first berth to the regional tournament and rematch with Bassett.
Ward won that rematch convincingly, 8-2, giving him a third-place finish and a ton of momentum heading into regionals.
“It feels good, but I need to stay focused for regionals,” Ward said. “I know I should be able to get (to states). But I need to stay focused on everything and take it one match at a time.”
Ward’s conditioning still isn’t quite where it was before he was hurt, but it’s getting there. His four consolation bracket wins last Saturday all went six minutes.
He feels good enough to go six hard minutes while still having something in reserve should he need overtime.
“Once I got cleared to work out, I got in the mat room with my partners and my teammates and they pretty much beat the crap out of me until I could wrestle again,” Ward said. “But I can wrestle six minutes. And I hope I can get how many ever minutes I need to get the win.”
This is all easy in comparison to how Ward prepared for the season. His head coach Lyle Wesneski is also his uncle and Wesneski had Ward out at the family farm during the summer throwing hay bale after hay bale.
It translated into a huge football season for Ward, who broke out to the tune of 51 receptions for 925 yards and five touchdowns. He was named to the Class A all-state team following the season.
He looks like he’s been chiseled from stone on the wrestling mat and has translated the potential which followed him to varsity wrestling last year into production. And now he’s just two wins away from being the team’s first state qualifier since Brady Bryington in 2016.
“Throwing thousands of hay bales is a whole lot harder than wrestling one person,” Ward said. “I knew I needed to get better, I needed to do something. I’m seeing it pay off now.
PIAA CLASS AA
NORTHEAST REGIONAL PREDICTIONS
(Top 4 qualify for state tournament)
106: 1, Sheldon Seymour, Troy; 2, Gable Strickland, Benton; 3, Jacob Blair, Muncy; 4, Gabe Gramly, Mifflinburg; 5, Blake Wirt, Line Mountain; 6, Tristyn Bodie, Honesdale.
113: 1, Wyatt Lutz, Montoursville; 2, Patrick Edmondson, Southern Columbia; 3, Darren Schum, Wyalusing; 4, Noah Hunt, Warrior Run; 5, Mario Barberio, Muncy; 6, Nick Yule, Berwick.
120: 1, Jaret Lane, Southern Columbia; 2, Luke Gorg, Hughesville; 3, Christian Good, Muncy; 4, Sammy Segers, Scranton Prep; 5, Zack Stuart, Lake-Lehman; 6, Justin Gessner, Lewisburg.
126: 1, Jeremy Hanford, Warrior Run; 2, A.J. Burkhart, Athens; 3, Brandon Judge, Valley View; 4, Avery Bassett, Midd-West; 5, Bryce Vollman, Muncy; 6, Bob Long, Lake-Lehman.
132: 1, Joe Klock, Muncy; 2, Cole Rhone, Benton; 3, Chris Horton, Athens; 4, Nate Higley, Sullivan County; 5, Devin Pietkiewicz, Shamokin; 6, Matt Davis, Honesdale.
138: 1, Noah Stamm, Milton; 2, Matt Milbrand, Bloomsburg; 3, Trevor Bingaman, Mifflinburg; 4, Luke Yonkin-O’Connor, Wyalusing; 5, Matthew Leslie, Western Wayne; 6, Hunter Burke, Lake-Lehman.
145: 1, Colton Babcock, Benton; 2, Dylan Bennett, Montoursville; 3, Coleman Good, Muncy; 4, D.J. Erickson, Hanover Area; 5, Noah Ettinger, Midd-West; 6, Riley Walker, North Penn-Liberty.
152: 1, Noah Gush, Muncy; 2, Cade Linn, Southern Columbia; 3, Timmy Ward, Canton; 4, Wyatt Bassett, Midd-West; 5, Braden McIntosh, Western Wayne; 6, Brandon Lawson, Honesdale.
160: 1, Creighton Edsell, Wyalusing; 2, Tyler Stoltzfus, Mifflinburg; 3, Nate Bradley, Athens; 4, Gable Crebs, Montoursville; 5, Jacob Carpenter, Shamokin; 6, Corey Mruk, Wyoming Area.
170: 1, Mike Kustanbauter, Muncy; 2, Ed Mapes, Wyalusing; 3, David Galasso, Athens; 4, Owen Hivner, Lackawanna Trail; 5, Anthony Scicchitano, Southern Columbia; 6, Michael O’Day, Honesdale.
182: 1, Gaige Garcia, Southern Columbia; 2, Hunter O’Connor, Jersey Shore; 3, Andrew Shedleski, Lewisburg; 4, Christian Wachter, Warrior Run; 5, Justin Joseph, Wyoming Area; 6, J.J. Hooper, Hanover Area.
195: 1, Gavin Hoffman, Montoursville; 2, Ivan Balavage, Scranton Prep; 3, Ethan Long, Line Mountain; 4, Lear Quinton, Southern Columbia; 5, David Tomb, Jersey Shore; 6, Manus McCracken, Mount Carmel.
220: 1, Hunter Poust, Muncy; 2, Cole Fuller, Western Wayne; 3, Cameron Wood, Montoursville; 4, Sean Sprague, Southern Columbia; 5, Dakotah Snyder, Lewisburg; 6, Connor Judge, Valley View.
285: 1, Connor Fulmer, Southern Columbia; 2, Justin Kriner, North Penn-Liberty; 3, Kaleb Konigus, Lake-Lehman; 4, Jaron Renn, Line Mountain; 5, Owen Hosler, Midd-West; 6, Kile Kauwell, Central Columbia.
PIAA CLASS AAA
NORTHWEST REGIONAL PREDICTIONS
(Top 3 qualify for state tournament)
106: 1, Andrew Brest, General McLane; 2, Matt Sarbo, Altoona; Chandler Ho, DuBois; 4, Jacob Brumett, Erie Cathedral Prep.
113: 1, Christian Fisher, Mifflin County; 2, Clayton Leidy, State College; 3, Garret Giedroc, Bald Eagle Area; 4, Ryan Madigan, Warren.
120: 1, Cole Stewart, Bellefonte; 2, Paniro Johnson, Erie Cathedral Prep; 3, Chase Chapman, Philipsburg-Osceola; 4, Owen Woolcot, State College.
126: 1, Ed Scott, DuBois; 2, Cade Balestrini, Shikellamy; 3,Tyler McKinney, Erie Cathedral Prep; 4, Ryan Smith, Bellefonte.
132: 1, Jeffery Boyd, Erie McDowell; 2, Seth Andrus, Central Mountain; 3, Andrew Stark, Erie Cathedral Prep; 4, Logan Wise, Mifflin County.
138: 1, Seth Koleno, Bald Eagle Area; 2, Leno Ciotti, Erie McDowell; 3, Nathan Swartz, Hollidaysburg; 4, Justice Jones, Carrick.
145: 1, Kolby Ho, DuBois; 2, Alec Bittler, St. Mary’s; 3, Garrett Rigg, Bald Eagle Area; 4, Logan Long, Central Mountain.
152: 1, Gage McClenahan, Bald Eagle Area; 2, Trey Kibe, Mifflin County; 3, Nick Rinella, Meadville; 4, Matt Johnson, Philipsburg-Osceola.
160: 1, Carter Starocci, Erie Cathedral Prep; 2, Asher Corl, Central Mountain; 3, Coy Bastian, Selinsgrove; 4, Hunter Wright, Clearfield.
170: 1, Trent Hidlay, Mifflin County; 2, Tanner Weaver, Central Mountain; 3, Jack Kaulis, General McLane; 4, Zach Becker, St. Mary’s.
182: 1, Liugi Yates, Erie Cathedral Prep; 2, Josh Krieger, Shikellamy; 3, Mason McCready, Hollidaysburg; 4, Alex Bielak, Erie McDowell.
195: 1, Luke McGonigal, Clearfield; 2, Cole Urbas, State College; 3, Dorian Crosby, Erie Cathedral Prep; 4, Brandon Anderson, Philipsburg-Osceola.
220: 1, Nate Schon, Selinsgrove; 2, Parker McClellan, Altoona; 3, Kareem Carson, Erie Cathedral Prep; 4, Mahlik Houtz, Central Mountain.
285: 1, Kawaun Deboe, Erie Cathedral Prep; 2, Nick Morelli, Meadville; 3, Jacob Edwards, Central Mountain; 4, Nate Simmers, Altoona.