Barnes injured in semis, guaranteed a medal
HERSHEY - Williamson's Billy Barnes was living his dream tournament.
He was in the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championship 145 pound semi-finals facing off against undefeated Michael Ricciato of Pen Argyl. Down 5-0 roughly a minute into the match Ricciato went to cut him loose and Barnes didn't move.
The sophomore was stretched out on the mat after suffering a leg injury. His goal of wrestling for a state title, at least this season, was not to be.
Barnes was ultimately carted off on a stretcher and sent to the hospital for precautionary measures. He had been dealing with a nagging injury in the groin for much of the season and possibly re-aggravated it during the match.
It was unknown whether he would be able to wrestle for the fifth place consolation today but would do no worse then taking sixth in the tournament by virtue of reaching the semi-finals.
The loss went down as an injury default in 1:07.
He got to the semi-finals by beating Reynolds' Levi Stoyer 5-2 in the quarterfinals.
After a feeling out period it was Barnes who struck first. The sophomore was able to get Stoyer's right let in a shot then used that to get the takedown for a 2-0 lead after the first period.
"I had to feel him out for a minute, see what he likes to do," Barnes explained. "I knew he was going to come with a right hand club so I just tried to dodge that. I just wanted to get to my shots and finish."
In the second Barnes went up 3-0 with an escape right off the bat. He then found more success with Stoyer's right leg, using another single leg to get a takedown.
"It took the pressure off my shoulders a lot," Barnes said about going up 5-0. "I don't like being in close matches, I like having a lead just in case something goes wrong you're still in the match. I felt pretty comfortable being up 5-2, I felt in control of the match."
Stoyer would score an escape before the period was out to cut it to 5-1 after four minutes.
In the final period Barnes started on top but it was Stoyer who scored with an escape. However, Barnes did a good job defending off Stoyer's offense and kept him scoreless the rest of the way to punch his ticket to the semi-finals.
"It's pretty awesome," Barnes said about making the semis and assuring himself a state medal but he wanted more.
"I didn't just want to make it to the semis," he added. "I want to make it to the finals. I want to be a finalist and I'm hoping to win it, that's my goal. Why settle for sixth when you can go for first."
Despite the setback this tournament was a big step forward for the underclassman.
Last season he won a District IV title but came up short of a state berth at the Northeast Regional tournament.
"It was motivation," Barnes said about taking fourth at regionals. "Being one step away from states, I kept thinking about it in my head 'I don't want to get stuck there.' I worked hard on the mat this year so it feels pretty good to get to the state semis."
Being one match away from a state final will just be more motivation the sophomore.
Barnes' opponent in the 5th place consolation is Brookville's Zach Vroman.