For the second year in a row, Penns Valley will have a wrestler on the PIAA Class AA podium.
It won’t be as high as Corey Hazel’s silver-medal finish last year, but Darren Yearick gets to continue the honor.
The junior made an impressive run through the 113-pound consolation bracket on Friday. He went 2-1 en route to a fifth-place match.
“It was an unbelievable run,” Rams coach Joel Brinker said. “The kid battled back and wrestled his freaking tail off. He laid it all out there in this last match.”
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Yearick got a rematch with Williams Valley’s Willy Girard for a spot in the consolation finals. Girard knocked Yearick into the consolation bracket with a first-round pin in 1:51.
This time Yearick battled but fell 10-3.
After the pair went scoreless in the first period, Girard got an escape and a takedown to hold a 3-0 lead to open the third. Yearick chose neutral to start and Girard again got another takedown. Yearick countered with a reversal. Girard tacked on his own reversal and three near-fall points to Yearick’s escape.
“I was just focusing on the medal,” Yearick said. “I wanted to make sure I sealed my place. End of the season, I wanted to leave it all out there.”
Yearick had to pick up those two wins in order to reach the medal rounds. He knew it was going to take some work.
“I knew I was going to have a tough way back,” he said. “The medal, I was focusing on that. You take it one match at a time. It makes it easier.”
He opened the day with Brockway’s Mitchell Overbeck. Yearick tallied the lone takedown of the match in the first period to claim the lead. He tacked on an escape in the second to lead 3-0. A strong ride in the period yielded just an escape from Overbeck but a 3-1 win for Yearick.
Before Yearick’s third-round consolation match, the power went out, causing a longer break than expected between rounds. Something of that nature can help or hurt an athlete, who is used to having a routine before matches.
“It helped,” he said. “It allowed me to get focused mentally on my match.”
Yearick came out against the lengthy Brian Friery of Lewisburg and controlled the match. He fought off a good takedown attempt from Friery and continued working on his snaps.
Neither wrestler scored in the first period. Yearick tallied a takedown in the second period. It was the lone point of the match as he once again used a strong ride in the third.
Yearick will take on Upper Dauphin’s Bronson Garber to be among the top five wrestlers in the state.
“We couldn’t be more proud and happy for him,” Brinker said. “He’s walking out of here right now, he is top six in the state.”