Exceeding expectations: Huntingdon’s Baney worked hard to reach Hershey in 2019

Not many outside of the Huntingdon wrestling program expected Myles Baney to be a state qualifier as a sophomore last season.

He went 17-15 as a freshman, so the expectations were low. Baney, though, raised expectations for this season when he placed sixth at 170 at the Southwest Regional Tournament to qualify for Hershey.

“I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” Huntingdon coach Jon Mykut said of Baney advancing to the state tournament. “I would say it’s a credit to how hard he worked. He put in the work, and he got rewarded for that at the end of the postseason.”

Baney, a junior who is ranked No. 1 at 170 in the Mirror rankings, was humble when asked qualifying for Hershey.

“Kids I lost to didn’t make it,” he said, “but I had good enough bracketing I was able to make it. It was a really good experience. It was fun. I enjoyed it. I learned that you definitely have to work harder. Just working hard isn’t enough. Doing extra isn’t enough. You have to do more than extra.”

Once wrestlers have a year that Baney had last season, they become the hunted. Opposing wrestlers want to make a name for themselves.

“I definitely feel a little more hunted than I did last year,” Baney said. “Last year, I didn’t have much of a name for myself, other than my brother’s reputation. I wasn’t respected well. This year, everyone wants to try to knock me off to boost themselves. They go out there with nothing to lose, and that definitely makes it a harder match.”

Baney does some of the extra things wrestlers have to do to make themselves better. In the offseason, he went to Ranger Wrestling Camp in Virginia and won Best Ranger out of more than 200 wrestlers. He has also worked out at 4M Wrestling Club and the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club.

Whatever he’s done has worked. Baney is 24-6 with 11 pins and four major decisions wrestling first at 182 and then making the drop to 170. Ranked 10that 170 by PA Power Wrestling, he was the runner-up at the Panther Holiday Classic and the Thomas Chevrolet Tournament.

“He’s been wrestling very well this year,” Mykut said. “He’s been working on some things from last year that he needed to clean up. Just about every time he steps out on the mat, we can count on that for a victory for us. He’s lived up to that. He’s learned from the losses. He knows what he needs to correct, and he’s been working on them.”

“For the most part, it’s been pretty good,” Baney said. “I’ve had some weaker moments while I was losing weight. I lost a couple matches I shouldn’t have lost. I didn’t wrestle up to my full potential. And it comes back to the weight loss. I didn’t have enough energy for the match.”

Asked if cutting weight is tough for him, Baney said, “Not anymore. It was at first, but after about two weeks, it’s pretty easy. You get used to the weight and it’s no problem.”

Baney is a three-sport athlete at Huntingdon. He also plays football, where he made 61 tackles as a 6-foot, 190-pound linebacker and played running back and on the offensive line, and baseball.

“It’s very tough,” Baney said of playing three sports. “It’s like school is my full-time job, and all of those (sports) are my part-time jobs. It’s definitely stressful maintaining that and my grades and still having a social life.”

Baney began wrestling when he was 3 or 4 years old. He never wrestled in the junior Olympics, but it sounds like he could have earned some medals in the tournament if he had.

“When I was real young, I was pretty good. And then everyone else started getting smarter, so I actually had to start working. I had to start putting in extra time in to stay ahead of everyone else.”

“I had an older brother (Seth) that wrestled. My dad’s friends were wrestling coaches. I was always around the sport. It’s just been a part of my life.”

Seth Baney, who graduated in 2017, was a two-time state placewinner who earned 119 wins in his career. The comparisons started soon after Myles came up to the high school level as a freshman.

“Any time I had any questions, he was always more than willing to help me out,” Myles said. “He always wrestles with me. It was never any type of close match because he’s so much bigger than me. He’s about 40 pounds heavier.”

“They have similar styles,” Mykut said. “Two different kids, obviously. They both kind of have a funky style.”

Baney had a winning season as a freshman, but he had to take his lumps wrestling at 145 pounds.

“It was definitely a tough year,” Baney said. “I had always been at the top of the food chain, and then I was barely above a .500 wrestler. It was very tough losing as much as I did. It was definitely a mental challenge. It showed me what I needed to do. I was a freshman at an upper weight. It’s just very hard to excel with the seniors and juniors as a freshman.”

Baney turned it up a couple notches as a sophomore, going 33-11 with 11 pins and placing fourth at the District 6 Class 2A Tournament to qualify for the regional tournament. He advanced out of the rugged regional and went 0-2 at the state tournament.

“That went a lot better than I thought it was going to,” Baney said. “The only losses I had were to people who were pretty prestigious by the end of the year. It was a really fun year.”

“Wrestling at an upper weight class isn’t an easy thing to do,” Mykut said. “You’re giving up some strength to those older guys. He has certainly progressed throughout his career, and I think he’ll continue to do so.”

The Bearcats are used to making the finals of the District 6 Duals, but they finished fourth on Saturday, losing to eventual champion Forest Hills, 45-27, in the semifinals and Glendale, 37-36, in the consolation match.

“It was disappointing,” Baney said. “It wasn’t for a lack of trying. Our coach did everything he could to make the best matchups he could. When it came down to it, we didn’t have enough heart for it.”

With only tonight’s home match against Bald Eagle Area to be wrestled before next weekend’s District 6 Tournament, Baney and the rest of his teammates can start focusing on the postseason.

For Baney, the focus could end up putting him on the medals stand at the PIAA Championships. He said he’s looking forward to the rest of the season.

“That’s the best part of each season,” Baney said. “I have the most fun there. It’s all about myself and my friends who will come with me. We’ll probably have quite a few kids moving on to regionals and maybe three of us to states.

“My goal this year is to place in the top five (at states). Next year, I’m looking to get in the top three, hopefully be a state champ. I’m more worried about this season right now.”

“I think the sky is the limit for him,” Mykut said. “He’s certainly looking forward to the district tournament coming up, getting to regionals and getting back to Hershey to try to get on the medals stand.”