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There's nobody Kyle Barnes would rather face than Zach Beitz

March 10, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
Kyle Barnes didn’t mince his words after earning his spot in this afternoon’s PIAA Class AA 145-pound final. He knows he’s in for a tough match with Juniata’s Zach Beitz, the first four-time medalist in Juniata history.

“Beitz is the real deal,” Barnes said Friday night.

But this scenario laid out before him is exactly what he wanted. He just wants the opportunity to prove himself on a big stage. He missed out on that chance after not getting out of sectionals as a freshman in a loaded 125-pound weight class. He missed it yet again last year when he had a rough district tournament and failed to place. Barnes has taken the most of this opportunity, though. He’s the lone undefeated wrestler remaining in District 4, and one of just five remaining in the entire Class AA field. His place amongst the state’s elite has been clinched.

When he won his semifinal last night Barnes pointed up to a section of Hughesville fans as he walked back to the center of the mat. That is the moment he had been looking for to cement his place among the elite beyond just a state ranking.

“That’s a big weight (off my shoulders), I can’t even explain what it feels like,” Barnes said. “When I put my hands up there after the buzzer went off, that was the greatest feeling in the world … So far.”

Barnes matches up with a wrestler in Beitz who is very similar to himself. Beitz is a high energy wrestler who as a freshman beat both Montoursville’s Luke Frey and Reynolds’ Mason Beckman on his way to a state runner-up finish to then Wyomissing freshman Arty Walsh.

It is Beitz’s only appearance in the finals prior to qualifying for today’s 145-pound final. But there’s nobody Barnes would rather be wrestling. Beitz’s wide-open style fits best with Barnes’ wide-open style.

“I haven’t had a kid wrestle that way against me in a while, not since Kritzer came after me wrestling in the finals of districts,” Barnes said. “I told you before, that’s where I like to be. When a kid’s wrestling aggressive, the way I like to wrestle, I think it opens up opportunities for me to score.”

But because Beitz goes wide open, it means Barnes has to be more conscious of staying in proper position and not giving the Juniata senior any opportunities for big moves.

“He’s such a smart wrestler, too,” Barnes said. “And he’s aggressive. I have to be smart, too. Conservative, but not defensive. The best defense is a good offense. That’s my plan going in.”


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