State medals were claimed by Back Mountain wrestlers in sets of three last weekend.
Lake-Lehman’s Austin Harry and the Dallas combination of Ryan Monk and Connor Martinez returned from the March 6-8 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Wrestling Championships with medals. For Harry, it was the third state wrestling medal of his career and the highest-ranking of those medals.
Harry finished third in Class AA at 132 pounds, narrowly missing his dream of a state title with a one-point semifinal loss to unbeaten state champion Ian Brown of Hanover.
Monk, a junior, placed sixth at 285 pounds and Martinez was eighth at 170 in Class AAA.
Harry battled through a series of close matches, pulling out decisions by one, two and three points, along with a major decision in the quarterfinals, to finish 41-2 in his senior season. The three-time District 2 and Northeast Regional champion moved one step up the podium after placing eighth in the state as a sophomore and fourth as a junior.
“I definitely felt like I was at my peak,” said Harry, who is headed to West Point Prep next season to prepare for a wrestling career with Army. “I felt I peaked at the perfect time.
“I felt real good down there. I pretty much executed when I had to. I just came up a little short.”
Harry had lost to Brown, 5-0, last year in the consolation final to decide third and fourth in the state. He closed the gap, but dropped a 4-3 decision in their rematch during the semifinals on the second of three days at Hershey’s Giant Center.
“He was better that day,” Harry said. “If we wrestled that match 10 more times, there’s probably going to be a different outcome every time and a different winner every time.
“It was that close of a match. He was the better wrestler that day.”
Harry earned his shot at Brown by defeating Scott Cooper of Biglerville, 3-1, in the first round and Dalton Zimmerman of Brookville, 10-1, in the quarterfinals.
Following the loss, Harry regrouped for two straight wins to secure his best PIAA finish. He topped South Fayette’s Mike Carr, 3-2, in the consolation semifinals, and Saegertown’s Tyler Vath, 5-2, in the third-place match.
Although he technically finished third by drawing Brown in the semifinals, Harry turned in the second-best performance in his weight class. Brown, who placed in the top four in the state the last three years, outscored his other three opponents, 32-1, including a 7-0 shutout of Kyle Shoop of Boiling Springs in the championship match.
After months of intense work building up to the tournament in Hershey, Harry took a break from training early this week. He likely still has one more competition left in his high school career.
Harry is leaning strongly toward participating in the National High School Coaches Association Championships in Virginia Beach in April.
Monk and Connor represented the first time Dallas had multiple state representatives in 25 years. They were each making their debut and they thrived over the first two days to clinch medals before having a tough final day, combining to go 0-5 while battling among the best in the state.
Monk was within two wins of a state title after pinning Harrisburg’s Andrew Brown in 4:35 March 6 then edging Mount Lebanon’s Zeynul Zaynullaev, 5-4, in the quarterfinals.
After falling to Pat Finn of Pottsgrove, 6-2, in the semifinals, Monk lost two more close decisions to place sixth. He fell to Methacton’s Tracey Green, 5-2, then dropped a 3-1 overtime decision to Erie McDowell’s Scott Augustine.
Martinez was pinned in the first period by four-time unbeaten state champion Chance Marsteller of Kennard-Dale. He then bounced back to win two straight one-point decisions – 4-3 over Devin Fallenstein of Ringgold and 1-0 over Rashon Lusane of Norristown – to clinch a medal.
Martinez lost his final two bouts, 5-1 to Garnet Valley’s John Dambro and 8-4 to Father Judge’s Idris White.
Lake-Lehman junior Derek Dragon also advanced to Hershey where he lost in the first two rounds and was eliminated. He was beaten by a pin and a major decision in Class AA at 170 pounds.