HERSHEY - Northern Bedford 285-pounder Quinton Hixson will have a choice to make in the upcoming months. Actually, it's two choices. He'll have to pick either football or wrestling, and he'll have to pick a college to continue what sport he picks.
In the short term, however, his goal Saturday afternoon at the Giant Center was more basic than anything else.
Asked what was next for him, Hixson said "Eating."
Photo for the Mirror by Tami Ogline Knopsnyder
Central?Cambria’s Tony?Risaliti (left) battles Central?Columbia’s Kurt Meske. Risaliti finished fourth at 160.
Sometimes eating will make everything better. Both Hixson and Central Cambria 160-pounder Tony Risaliti lost their third-place bouts to guys who had beaten them in the quarterfinals at the PIAA Class AA Championships to finish fourth.
Hixson suffered a 3-1 ultimate tiebreaker loss to Reynolds' Blake Heim, who had pinned the NBC senior in the quarterfinals. Risaliti was beaten by Central Columbia's Kurt Meske, 9-4, in his final bout. Risaliti lost 11-7 the first time. For both, it was their second state medal. Both took seventh last season.
"It's not the way I wanted to end up, but fourth is not too bad," Risaliti said.
Claysburg-Kimmel's Ty Dively was the only area winner in the medal bouts, earning a 10-2 win over Milton Hershey's Sharron Townsend in the 138-pound fifth-place finals bout.
Bedford's Ryan Easter (113) and Tyrone's Dylan Weston (145) finished sixth. Easter, who placed fifth last year, dropped a 2-1 decision to Ligonier Valley's Josh Patrick, and Weston (145) capped off a memorable tournament with 3-0 loss to Bethlehem Catholic's Ryan Todora.
Risaliti couldn't solve the tall, lanky Meske in the neutral position.
"He's pretty good at taking shots out in the open," Risaliti said. "He has a good setup where he snaps your head and takes that shot. It's really tough to stop with those long arms."
Risaliti, who finished his senior season with a 37-5 mark, had hopes of reaching the finals and taking on Forest Hills friend Cody Law, who lost o Bentworth's Francis Mizia, 3-2, for the gold.
"Overall, I wrestled pretty well," Risaliti said.
"We're very, very proud of him," CC coach Bob Nikolishen said. "I think he's leaving his high school wrestling career on a good note. He showed his toughness. In his first couple matches, he was coming close to not being on the upper end of that, but he found a way to bounce back and place fourth."
Hixson and Heim went to the tiebreaker tied, 1-1, and both took turns riding each other out in the 30-second periods. Hixson even threw legs in during the second tiebreaker. Heim, though escaped 9 seconds into the ultimate tiebreaker.
"The [disk] flip didn't go our way like we had planned," NBC coach Brian Dutchcot said. "We had hoped the flip would go our way. Sometimes that's what it comes down to, especially with heavyweights."
Hixson finished his senior season with a 35-4 record.
"I did all right in the tournament," Hixson said. "It would have been really nice to win the last one."
"He had a great tournament," NBC coach Brian Dutchcot said. "To lose in the quarters and then to bounce back and wrestle under the spotlight at the Giant Center is an amazing accomplishment for him to medal twice."
Dively was taken down in the first period, but he built a 6-2 lead after two periods. In the third, he tilted Townsend twice for four nearfall points and a major decision win.
"I didn't come down here for fifth," Dively said, "but I'm not too sad about getting fifth at 138. A lot of people wish they could be here right now."
"It's not what he came here for," C-K coach Dave Marko said, "but it was nice to see him finish out the way he did. He wrestled a tough kid, and giving up that opening takedown, I was a little worried, but from there on out, he was in complete control."
Dively, the school's record holder for career wins with 146, lost two bouts in the tournament by a combined three points and finished his senior season with a 40-4 mark.
"I wrestled some tough competition down here," Dively said. "Every match was pretty close. I took a beating wrestling four matches yesterday and six matches overall."
"Yesterday was a battle," Marko said. "Wrestling four matches of this caliber is like a war zone. The matches he lost had some very iffy situations where he gave up points."
Easter reached the semifinals Friday, but three close losses dropped him to sixth place. Despite that, Easter couldn't hide his smile as he came out for the parade of champions and after he came down from the medals stand. Easter, a sophomore, finished with a 37-8 record.
"I thought I was going to be disappointed if I lost," Easter said, "but I'm really excited. I don't know how you can't be excited after placing again. One state medal is good for a lot of people. I've still got two more years to keep getting better."
It was an interesting year for Easter, who lost his first two battles with Chestnut Ridge's Trent Crouse.
"I've made these last two months the best two months of my life," Easter said. "[The losses to Crouse] really changed my mindset. Looking back on it, that probably wasn't a bad thing. I was wrestling to lose, not to win. I cleared my mind, and I went out and had fun."
"Everybody was down on him," Bedford coach Brian Creps said, "and he was able to wrestle a real good regional tournament and a real good state tournament. We talked after the Thomas Tournament, and I said 'You don't win your medals after the Thomas Chevrolet Tournament,' and he took that to heart."
Weston, the tournament Cinderella for two days, was a takedown call in the semifinals against Hughesville's Kyle Barnes from making the finals. But, he lost, 3-2, to Barnes, and he also lost two close ones after that.
Happy to be there at the beginning of the tournament, Weston, who finished his senior year with a 37-10 record, left it wanting more.
"That [sixth place] is not what I wanted," Weston said. "The first two matches were definitely upsets for me. In my semifinal match, I thought maybe I had a takedown. I thought the match could have gone my way."
"It's a roller coaster ride here," Tyrone coach Blair Packer said. "I think once he got a taste of he could stick with these kids, then he had greater expectations. That one semifinal match .... You tell the kids you have to be ready for next match, and even as a coach, it's hard to ignore those things. You hope it never happens to your kid. He did well enough to be in the finals."
Tournament notes: Former Bedford coach Bill Creps was named USA Magazine Wrestling's Man of the Year. ... Derry Area's Jimmy Gulibon captured his fourth state title with a 9-3 win over Keystone Oaks' Nick Zanetta in the 126-pound finals, becoming only the 10th four-time champ and the first since Jeremy Hunter in 1996. Gulibon was voted the Outstanding Wrestler by the media. ... Richland's John Rizzo and North Star's Nick Roberts won their third titles. ... Bethlehem Catholic won the team title by 51.5 points, 111-59.5, over Reynolds.