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Ryan Solomon wins Milton's 7th state championship
March 10, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT
HERSHEY – It was a numbing feeling, almost unbelievable.
Ryan Solomon rose to his feet and flexed his biceps at a group of Milton fans on one side of the Giant Center. He turned 180 degrees, Hanover’s Derek Wolford lying in his wake, and pointed to another group of Milton fans.
The junior 195-pounder became Milton’s third state champion Saturday afternoon at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships, joining former Black Panthers Bob Crawford and Charlie Heller as gold medal-winners at Milton. It was an accomplishment even he had a hard time grasping.
“Charlie Heller, Bobby Crawford, a two-timer and a four-timer. It feels awesome to be a part of that club,” Solomon said. “It’s a little overwhelming, but once I got back here and collected myself and actually think about and look at the medal, it’s sinking in and it feels awesome.”
Solomon won his first state title with as dominant a performance as you can have in a 3-0 match. He wrestled loose. He wrestled with a non-stop motor that had him not working to run out the clock, but constantly working to score more points.
He knows he’s been guilty in the past of getting a quick lead and holding on to that lead. Saturday he opened up his offense. He got in deep on a single leg and converted it to a takedown midway through the first period. After escaping from bottom to start the second period, he went to a bulldog of a double-leg attempt but couldn’t quite keep Wolford in bounds.
While riding on top in the third period he relentlessly worked an arm bar to try and score points. It was the type of dominating offensive performance Solomon has been working to produce in big tournaments like this. Instead of waiting for overtime or the tie-breaker period to make his offensive move like he did in last year’s state tournament, he consistently got ahead quickly and worked for more this weekend.
“Last year I was really nervous being in (the final) for the first time. This year I was calmer, I knew what I had to do and I knew what the experience was going to be like,” Solomon said. “Our coach said (Wolford) might not have the best gas tank so keep pushing the pace, keep pushing the pace and keep grinding.”
Solomon came through the 215-pound bracket a year ago and was a surprise finalist, getting through former state runner-up Matt Mongera in the quarterfinals and four-time PIAA placewinner Brian Beattie in the semifinals before losing, 2-1, in the finals on a stalling point.
As the overwhelming favorite to win the 195-pound bracket this year, Solomon didn’t disappoint. He beat the second, third and fifth-place finishers in the tournament by a combined score of 10-2 in his final three bouts of the tournament.
He wrestled with an air of confidence surrounding him. He wrestled like there was no way he could stand being referred to as a state runner-up for another year until he got another chance. He’s now just the third Milton wrestler to win three PIAA medals, joining Crawford and Brock Waughen.
“It feels so awesome,” Solomon said. “You almost think you’re in a dream and it’s not real. You’re just ecstatic.”
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