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Ridge’s Knisely rebounds from tough loss to finish in third

HERSHEY — Shortly after his controversial 3-1 overtime loss to Wilson Area’s Kolby Flank in the PIAA Class 2A semifinals late Friday night, Chestnut Ridge’s Duane Knisely wasn’t feeling great.

He was slumped against a wall near the entrance to the floor of Hershey’s Giant Center. In about 45 minutes or so, he was going to have to wrestle Mount Union’s Jake Ryan in the 220-pound consolation semifinals.

“I really was just tired, and I didn’t want to wrestle at first for about 30 minutes it seemed like,” Knisely said on Saturday afternoon. “But I was able to get into my own head to bounce back, and I just made it happen.

“There was nothing I could do about (the loss). I just had to live with it at that point. It sucked, but I just had to make sure I got ready for the next one.”

Knisely recovered quickly to win a physical 6-1 decision over Ryan in the last bout of the night. He followed that by avenging a regular-season loss to Brookville’s Nathan Taylor, 3-0, to finish third.

Knisely was one of 11 area wrestlers who placed in the top eight at their weights, including state champions Brock McMillen (132) of Glendale and Kaden Cassidy (138) of Bedford and Chestnut Ridge runner-up Calan Bollman (106).

Ridge had four of the placewinners, with fifth-placer Kai Burkett (113) and seventh-placer Nathan Holderbaum (120) earning their second medals.

“I think we had a great weekend,” said Ridge coach Josh Deputy, whose team finished in seventh in the team standings with 69 points. “Any time you can place four kids in the Pennsylvania state tournament, that’s big.”

Burkett actually defeated Tyrone’s Hunter Walk, 5-1, in the fifth-place bout.

Philipsburg-Osceola had a school-record three medalists in sixth-placer Parker Moore (195) and eighth-placers Chase Chapman (138) and Hunter Weitoish (160).

Glendale’s Cory Johnston (220) placed seventh for his second state medal.

Two calls went against Knisely in his semifinal loss to Flank, who lost to Montoursville’s Cameron Wood, 4-3, in the finals.

Knisely was called for grabbing Flank’s headgear with 17 seconds left on a Flank takedown attempt, tying the score at 1-1 and sending the bout into overtime. The second when Flank was given a takedown with 16 seconds left in OT at the edge of the mat. The referee and the mat judge talked for a long time before deciding to allow the takedown.

Chestnut Ridge coaches, fans and others were livid with the call. On Saturday, Knisely, who finished with a 43-4 record, was taking the high road.

“You can’t change it. It happened,” Knisely said. “I should have gotten a takedown earlier. I should have gotten the win by myself. I shouldn’t have had to worry about those bad calls because you know they happen. I know I’m going to hear a lot about it in the next couple weeks that it was a bad call, but it’s not what I’m looking at.”

“Duane bouncing back last night was phenomenal,” Deputy said. “That was super hard for him. We had a heart to heart, and it took some talking and some prodding, but he showed his high character and the type of kid he is.”

Knisely lost to Taylor, 4-2, at the Ultimate Duals, but it was Knisely’s day Saturday. After he rode Taylor the entire second period of a scoreless bout, Knisely escaped with a minute left in the bout and took Taylor down with 49 seconds left.

“I’m happy with today’s performance,” Knisely said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy one. I lost to him earlier in the season, but I knew if I came out and wrestled like I can, hit my things and wrestle hard on top, I’d be able to beat him.”

Now it’s on to track and field season for Knisely, who earned the silver medal in the discus last season.

“I’m excited for that,” Knisely said. “Wrestling is over pretty quick, it feels like. I’m going to make sure I go out and get that gold medal in the spring.”

Burkett, whose losses came to Notre Dame Green Pond’s eventual third-placer Brett Ungar and fourth-placer Owen Reinsel, scored two takedowns against Walk. Burkett rolled through a Walk headlock attempt for a takedown with a second left.

Both Burkett (40-7) and Walk (39-8) are juniors. Walk won four straight bouts in the consolations.

“Yesterday didn’t go as planned but it’s still all right,” Burkett said. “I really would have liked to get up (higher) in the placing, but I’ll be back next year ready to go – hopefully for a state championship. I think I wrestled pretty well against Walk. I wasn’t quite as aggressive as I should have been, but I went out and scored some points.”

Walk is the first Tyrone medalist since Dylan Weston finished sixth in 2012.

“It feels pretty good,” Walk said. “All the hard work paid off. Obviously my goal was to win a state championship, but I got the next best thing. Overall, I think I wrestled really good. I had a couple tough matches, beat a lot of awesome kids.”

Moore, a junior who went from 9-16 last season to a 36-9 record this year, lost to Union City’s Marshall Vantassel, 11-2, in the fifth-place bout.

“It feels pretty good,” Moore said. “I was just happy to be here. I’m looking forward to getting better in the offseason just like I did last year so I keep climbing the podium next year.”

Holderbaum (37-12), a senior who finished fourth last season, pinned Faith Christian’s Eric Alderfer in 21 seconds in the seventh-place bout.

Johnston (39-6), a senior who finished sixth last season, earned a 3-2 decision over Maplewood’s Joey King for seventh place.

Chapman (32-15), a senior making his second Hershey appearance, dropped a 10-7 decision to Biglerville’s Blake Showers in the seventh-place bout.

Weitoish (33-9), a junior wrestling at Hershey for the second time, lost to Montoursville’s Isaac Cory, 4-1, to finish eighth.

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