HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING: Doak, Oliver pick up seventh-place medals
HERSHEY — Blairsville junior Drew Doak took little solace in knowing that he became just the second wrestler in school history to claim three medals at the PIAA Class AA Championships on Saturday at the Giant Center.
Truth be told, Doak (152 pounds) badly wanted to wrestle for a state title, and winning his third consecutive seventh-place consolation bout at states simply didn’t quench the Blairsville stalwart’s thirst.
Meanwhile, United junior Tyler Oliver (195) and Punxsutawney sophomore Kaleb Young (138) each came up short in their pursuits for gold medals and placed seventh and fifth, respectively.
Also, Kittanning senior and Rural Valley native Jason Nolf won the 145-pound title to become the 42nd wrestler in the history of the storied tournament to claim a third gold medal.
Blairsville junior Scott Thompson (182), a three-time state qualifier and a state medalist in the 2011-12 tournament, lost two matches Friday, including one to eventual champ Stephen Loiseau, of Lancaster Catholic, in the quarterfinals, and didn’t place.
Doak (36-6) notched a second-period takedown and a third-period escape to nip Fort LeBoeuf’s Brad Malinowski, 3-2, in the seventh-place consolation bout.
With the win, Doak, who sits at No. 2 on the school’s list of all-time wins (116), matched Blairsville’s only state champ, Matt Moore, as the school’s only three-time state medalist.
Lofty achievement aside, a still hungry Doak offered some self-criticism following his win over Malinowski.
“I didn’t wrestle very well in this tournament,” Doak said. “I guess it’s just whoever has the hot hand going into the tournament that ends up on top of the podium when it’s over. I know very well I could have ended up there, it’s just I didn’t show up this week to wrestle.”
Oliver (33-6) dropped a 3-2 decision to a foe he bested twice this year, Valley’s Marcus Davenport, in the consolation quarterfinals on Friday.
But Oliver, a District 6 champ and a Southwest Regional tournament runner-up, bounced back and topped Panther Valley’s Richard Nase, 3-1, in the seventh-place consolation bout.
Oliver finished 3-2 in his first state tournament. He said that practicing with 220-pounder Seth McLendon and heavyweight Andrew Deitman all season prepared him for powerful wrestler like Nase.
“His strength surprised me, but I prepared myself by wrestling with bigger guys, 220-pounders and heavyweights, in practice,” Oliver said. “They’re very strong, stronger than anyone I wrestled this year, and they’re just really good practice partners.”
United coach Tim Riskus was pleased with Oliver’s efforts but said he believes next year he’ll reap greater rewards.
“He probably should have placed a little higher, but he definitely earned his spot on the podium,” Riskus said. “He lost to a kid (Davenport) who he beat twice this year, but that just wasn’t his match. He’ll be back next year, and we’ll look for him to put on a much better show and really make his presence felt.”
Nolf pinned the unbeaten Billy Barnes of Williamson in just 1:42 in the finals to finish his illustrious career with a 176-1 record.
Nolf suffered the lone loss of his career to four-time high school state champ Ryan Diehl in the semifinals of the 2011-12 state tournament, in which he placed third.
“It feels pretty good,” said Nolf, who attended Shannock Valley Elementary School before transferring to West Shamokin Junior High School for one year in the 2009-10 school year. “There wasn’t really any pressure. I just wanted to win, for myself. I would have liked to have won four, but whatever.”