Lone loss provided teaching moment for Sullivan’s Higley

Nate Higley’s one loss this season is the match he’s learned from the most. There were lessons about weight management and about where his pace needs to be.

It was a vital lesson the Sullivan County sophomore learned when he dropped a one-point decision to Muncy’s Mario Barberio on Jan. 10. It’s one which is going to help him as he prepares for the postseason beginning today at the District 4 North Sectional tournament.

Higley is a heavy favorite at 132 pounds as the lone returning state qualifier in the bracket, but it doesn’t mean he’s unmotivated. Higley has been waiting 11 months for this weekend to come around. He’s trying to take the lessons he learned last year and through that loss a month ago to turn them into learning experiences which will once again put him on the podium in Hershey.

“That loss was really important,” Higley said. “I’m not one to run away from competition. Early in the season you’re looking to improve and looking for things to build upon, and that helped.”

If his chasing out Barberio in a dual meet wasn’t proof enough he doesn’t run from competition, his entry into the postseason at 132 pounds should be. He could have easily made the move up to 138 where he wrestled a majority of the season. At 138 he wouldn’t have to deal with three returning state third-place finishers, a state fourth-place finisher, and a state runner-up.

On the state level, 138 pounds has just two returning state qualifiers. At 132, Higley is one of 16 returning state qualifiers and eight returning state placewinners in PA Power Wrestling’s state rankings.

“I made the semis last year at that weight class and that was the weight class I told myself I’m going to win a state title at,” said Higley, who became Sullivan’s first state placewinner last year when he finished sixth. “Mostly because of what happened to me last year, especially in the semis, I want to improve off that I want to get in the finals.”

Higley knows his foray into cutting to 132 pounds will go much better this time than it did his first time around this season. When he first got down in early January, the cut was a hard one. He admits he probably didn’t do it the right way.

Even though he wrestled Barberio at 138 pounds, he weighed in at 132. He was almost 4 pounds over on the day of the dual meet with Muncy and said he had to run 4 miles before the dual to make sure he made weight. So by the time he got to the match, his gas tank was about empty. He dropped that bout, 8-7. To date, it’s his only loss this season and one of only two regular-season losses he’s had in his two-year career.

Higley doesn’t use the weight-cutting as an excuse. He credits Barberio for doing what he needed to win the bout. Higley looks at the loss as a learning experience and has adjusted how he cuts weight and how he fuels his body to prepare himself for the postseason, where he’ll have to make the cut to 132 for, hopefully, four consecutive weekends.

“The cut really isn’t too bad, but it can be a bit of a struggle,” Higley said. “It depends on if I eat right and if I keep hydrating the right way. I can’t do the whole ‘I’ll just suck these five pounds off’ tonight. I’m not that kind of guy.”

This postseason is going to be different for Higley. A year ago, he was the up-and-coming freshman full of talent but not on the same level as some others in his district. He battled with eventual state champion Joe Klock of Muncy – including in the state semifinals – and state runner-up Cole Rhone of Benton for two weeks leading into the state tournament. And with Klock and Rhone wrestling in both the Central Sectional and Northeast Region finals as the top -two ranked 132-pounders in the state, Higley was able to fly under the radar.

He rode the anonymity into the state tournament where he raised eyebrows with a four-point move in the quarterfinals which knocked off third-ranked state placewinner Bodee Tolbert of Bishop McDevitt and made him the first state placewinner in school history. Higley, though, won’t have the benefit of that anonymity this season and he knows it.

He would prefer to be the underdog in every match he wrestles. But he has no qualms about wrestling as the favorite. So even though he’s stuck in the mix of a 132-pound weight class loaded with returning state placewinners, he knows he’s one of them and the rest of the field is going to have to deal with him the same way he’ll have to deal with them.

“I believe I’m capable of being a state champion because I’ve put in the time and effort and I know that if I stay in their face and stay at them, they’re going to be worried about me,” Higley said. “I’m not worried about everyone else. They’re just kids like I am.”

DISTRICT 4 SECTIONAL TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS

(Top 4 in each weight class advance to district tournament)

North Section

106: 1, Sheldon Seymour, Troy; 2, Gavin Bradley, Athens; 3, Coy Wagner, North Penn-Liberty; 4, Isaac Landis, Canton.

113: 1, Tyler Hawley, Towanda; 2, Liam Goodrich, Jersey Shore; 3, Seth Seymour, Troy; 4, Tyler Dilly, Williamson.

120: 1, Jacob Bruyn, Wyalusing; 2, Cobey Saxon, Sullivan County; 3, Patriot June, North Penn-Liberty; 4, Joseph Vanderpool, Towanda.

126: 1, Karter Rude, Athens; 2, Matt Carpenter, Williamson; 3, Nick Woodruff, Wyalusing; 4, Bryant Green, Towanda.

132: 1, Nate Higley, Sullivan County; 2, Trevor Williams, Troy; 3, Logan Newton, Wyalusing; 4, Cade Vuocola, Jersey Shore.

138: 1, Skyler Allen, Towanda; 2, Zachary Shaffer, Wyalusing; 3, Gabe Packer, Jersey Shore; 4, Josh Hultz, Williamson.

145: 1, Preston Rogers, Towanda; 2, Colton Ammerman, Sullivan County; 3, Bailey Cohick, Troy; 4, Zak Kline, Jersey Shore.

152: 1, Isaac Cory, Troy; 2, Jacoby Fitzgerald, Sullivan County; 3, Trent Nickeson, Wyalusing; 4, Jonathan Smith, Jersey Shore.

160: 1, Cooper Mosier, Towanda; 2, Christian Ward, Canton; 3, Ryan Kershner, Jersey Shore; 4, Jacob Turner, Troy.

170: 1, David Galasso, Athens; 2, Kyle Tomb, Jersey Shore; 3, Garrett Stoch, Canton; 4, Edward Cole, Troy.

182: 1, Hunter O’Connor, Jersey Shore; 2, Cameron Andrew, North Penn-Liberty; 3, Tyler Williams, Troy; 4, Carter Route, Canton.

195: 1, Clay Green, Towanda; 2, Noah Forbes, Northeast Bradford; 3, Roch Minnich, North Penn-Liberty; 4, Eric Stone, Troy.

220: 1, Jackson Chilson, Wyalusing; 2, Jared Houck, Sullivan County; 3, Alex Perez, Towanda; 4, Trevor Williams, Canton.

285: 1, Dawson Brown, Northeast Bradford; 2, Randy Wildrick, Wyalusing; 3, John Minnich, North Penn-Liberty; 4, Joe Malkemes, Sullivan County.

Central Section

106: 1, Bobby Gardner, South Williamsport; 2, Zach Kremer, Benton; 3, Kayden Frame, Montoursville; 4, Kaden Majcher, Warrior Run.

113: 1, Gable Strickland, Benton; 2, Alexander Oberheim, Montoursville; 3, Chase Crawley, Muncy; 4, Morgan Gavitt, Hughesville.

120: 1, Noah Hunt, Warrior Run; 2, Broc Lutz, Montoursville; 3, Grady Oden, Muncy; 4, Hunter Leet, Montgomery.

126: 1, Bryce Vollman, Muncy; 2, Ben Heinrich, Hughesville; 3, Caden Temple. Benton; 4, Lucas Sherwood, Montoursville.

132: 1, Isaac Kester, Central Columbia; 2, Devon Deem, Montgomery; 3, Landon Lorson, South Williamsport; 4, Brandon Shearer, Loyalsock.

138: 1, Mario Barberio, Muncy; 2, Luke Gorg, Hughesville; 3, Gabe Waltman, Central Columbia; 4, Wyatt Dewald, Montoursville.

145: 1, Christian Good, Muncy; 2, Nate Snyder, Central Columbia; 3, Lane Lusk, South Williamsport; 4, Caleb Dixon, Hughesville.

152: 1, Cael Crebs, Montoursville; 2, Coleman Good, Muncy; 3, Nolan Lear, Benton; 4, Spencer Marquardt, South Williamsport.

160: 1, Ty Nixon, Muncy; 2, Jacob Busch, Central Columbia; 3, Sam Crawford, Warrior Run; 4, Caleb Moser, Montoursville.

170: 1, Dylan Bennett, Montoursville; 2, Jake Mattive, Bloomsburg; 3, Ethan Gush, Muncy; 4, Isaac Gensemer, Central Columbia.

182: 1, Mike Kustanbauter, Muncy; 2, Gavin Livermore, Montoursville; 3, Gabe Wright, Montgomery; 4, Dylan Devlin, Central Columbia.

195: 1, Gable Crebs, Montoursville; 2, Jack Schechterly, Central Columbia; 3, Rion Withers, South Williamsport; 4, Dan Beckley, Montgomery.

220: 1, Cameron Wood, Montoursville; 2, Zach Poust, Benton; 3, Caleb Burkhart, Hughesville; 4, Logan McWilliams, Central Columbia.

285: 1, Alex Eveland, Central Columbia; 2, Cael Hembury, Muncy; 3, Hunter Robbins, Hughesville; 4, Michael Fioretti, South Williamsport.

South Section

106: 1, Andrew Johnson, Danville; 2, Blake Wirt, Line Mountain; 3, Kaiden Wagner, Lewisburg; 4, Brady Feese, Southern Columbia.

113: 1, Gabe Gramly, Mifflinburg; 2, Kole Biscoe, Southern Columbia; 3, Landon Hopper, Danville; 4, Thomas Lyons, Lewisburg.

120: 1, Kyler Crawford, Milton; 2, Aidan Steininger, Midd-West; 3, Jake Adzema, Mount Carmel; 4, Troy Bingaman, Mifflinburg.

126: 1, T.J. Walter, Milton; 2, Ian Yoder, Southern Columbia; 3, Ethan Zevan, Midd-West; 4, Trevor McDonald, Mount Carmel.

132: 1, Patrick Edmondson, Southern Columbia; 2, Ian Coller, Line Mountain; 3, Justin Gessner, Lewisburg; 4, Zach Reed, Mount Carmel.

138: 1, Avery Bassett, Midd-West; 2, Clayton Reed, Mifflinburg; 3, Mike Miner, Southern Columbia; 4, Logan Bartlett, Lewisburg.

145: 1, Gavin Garcia, Southern Columbia; 2, Kameron Kline, Midd-West; 3, Eric Gessner, Mifflinburg; 4, Evan Welliver, Danville.

152: 1, Shane Miller, Southern Columbia; 2, Wyatt Bassett, Midd-West; 3, Maximus Madden, Shamokin; 4, Jason Valladares, Milton.

160: 1, Cade Linn, Southern Columbia; 2, Josh Rodriguez, Midd-West; 3, Eric Sees, Danville; 4, Bruce Carl, Mount Carmel.

170: 1, Jansen Houdeshell, Mifflinburg; 2, Damon Backes, Shamokin; 3, Jacob Feese, Line Mountain; 4, Brandon Gedman, Southern Columbia.

182: 1, Tyler Waltman, Southern Columbia; 2, Shane Weidner, Mount Carmel; 3, Matt Dunkle, Danville; 4, Wyatt Bingaman, Line Mountain.

195: 1, Gaige Garcia, Southern Columbia; 2, Roman Aksenov, Lewisburg; 3, Zach Zerbe, Danville; 4, Trey Lauver, Midd-West.

220: 1, Dakotah Snyder, Lewisburg; 2, Preston Zachman, Southern Columbia; 3, Carter Sauer, Midd-West; 4, Austin Reed, Mount Carmel.

285: 1, Lear Quinton, Southern Columbia; 2, Owen Zechman, Midd-West; 3, Colin Herb, Mount Carmel; 4, Grant Adams, Lewisburg.

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