Williamson's Barnes advances to state final
HERSHEY - Last year Williamson's Billy Barnes came up short in the semi-finals, leaving the mat on crutches.
This year Barnes left the mat after having his hand raised.
Dominating the first periods, Barnes beat Burrell's Corey Falleroni 5-3 to reach the 145 pound PIAA championship bout Saturday night.
"It feels good," remarked Barnes. "It takes some stress off but there's one more, it's not over yet."
His coach Kevin Mowry was excited to see Barnes reach the final after coming up short last year.
"I'm just so proud of him," Mowry remarked. "He's wrestled basically all year long, all summer, all off season. To come back from last year and the reach state finals is just a huge accomplishment."
Getting to the finals shows how much better Barnes has gotten from last year.
"It shows improvement from last year," he said. "You've just got to keep getting better. There's always somebody out there that can beat you so you've just got to work harder than them."
Barnes has been aggressive all tournament, scoring first in each of his three matches.
"That's how he's wrestled all season," Mowry said. "In the wrestling room and when we have our matches. Just constantly on the attack on the offense, trying to push the pace. He's been trying to wear his opponents down that way, he's just so physical."
The second ranked wrestler in the state had a noticeable speed advantage over his opponent, getting inside on Falleroni in the first period and dodging one of his shots in the second.
"I knew that he was going to try to be defensive on me so I had to try to finish quick," explained Barnes.
Barnes started quickly, using a single shot to get inside on Falleroni. After he got inside he was able to work to Falleroni's back through the scramble to get the takedown, almost getting back points in the process.
Up 2-0 Barnes held him down the rest of the period to keep the lead.
In the third Barnes quickly escaped then got another take down when he avoided Falleroni's shot and spun around behind him to go up 5-0.
Barnes tried to tilt but couldn't keep Falleroni on his back long enough for the points.
The third period was another matter, though.
"It relieves some pressure from you," Barnes said about the big lead. "You've got a good lead on him so you've got to just keep plugging."
Falleroni got on the scoreboard with an escape to start the period then finally got through Barnes' defense for the late takedown to cut it to 5-3.
"I got sloppy on my feet," admitted Barnes. "I let him get on my legs. I've just got to work on that tonight."
He tried to turn the Williamson Junior but Barnes wouldn't budge as the time ticked off the clock.
Now Barnes will face the top ranked wrestler in PA at his weight, Kittanning's Jason Nolf, in the finals that start at 2 p.m. today. Nolf dominated Muncy's Dakota Nixon for a fall in 3:15 to reach the final.
"We're going to make sure he's focused at this point," Mowry said about Barnes' preparation. "Make sure he gets a good night's rest. We'll talk to some people who watched Nolf wrestle today. See some things that he's done and we'll just try to be prepared for that match."
Barnes is undeterred, though.
"I'm just going to go out and wrestle my match," he said. "I will try to out pace him, wrestle hard for six minutes and the rest will take care of itself."
His coach expects it be a high energy, intense final.
"Look for a real high octane match in the finals," Mowry said. "Quick pace, very physical. It should be exciting."