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PIAA GIRLS WRESTLING: ATHENS' KOLESAR PLACES SEVENTH AT STATES; RATHBUN, NASON ONE WIN SHY OF MEDAL (24 PHOTOS) (2023-03-13)

By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
HARRISBURG — Freshman Anaiah Kolesar, an NEB student, posted a 3-2 record to reach the podium here Sunday with a seventh-place finish at the MyHouse Pa. Girls State Wrestling Championships, while her Athens teammates — fellow freshmen Hanna Rathbun and Leah Nason — each ended up one victory shy of winning a medal.

“They’re all freshmen,” said Athens coach Jay White. “I think this was a very positive experience for all three of them.

“You had to qualify this year, and our region isn’t easy. Hanna’s bracket has two girls who may meet in the state final.

“The way they set up our region was kind of strange,” noted White. “Bishop McCort, out of Johnstown had two drive all the way up to Milton … no one wanted to wrestle them, so they put them in our region.

“It’s an accomplishment to get here, especially out of our region, because we take so few compared to everybody else,” continued White. “It’s not easy to get here. Lilly Galasso won four matches last week, and didd’t make it.

“These girls got here, they put in the time and practiced hard,” added White. “I’m proud of them.”

Kolesar, the fourth seed at 112 pounds, had an up-and-down day, winning her first match, before dropping a hard-fought, 2-0, decision in the quarterfinals. She bounced back with a major decision win in wrestlebacks, but lost a 4-0 decision in the “blood round,” before ending her day with a win in the seventh-place match.

“Anaiah had a great tournament at Regionals,” said Athens coach Jay White. “She was beating a girl who was in the state semis last year only to get caught in a five-point move in the last 15 seconds to lose it, so she’s good enough to be in the state semis, she just made some mental errors today.

“Anaiah is a tough kid … she ran into a super-tough girls (Madilyn Enterline) in the quarterfinals, who was 28-10 against the boys this year. She is really good.

“Anaiah will get better. She doesn’t like to lose,” added White. “She’s use to winning, this will be a little bot of motivation for next year. I expect great things out of her.”

After a scoreless first period in her opening match against Parkland’s Sage Rittenhouse, Kolesar rode top in the second period until sinking in an arm bar and turning Rittenhouse for the fall at 3:59.

Kolesar’s quarter-final match-up against fifth-seeded Enterline was also scoreless after the first period. Kolesar rode top in the second period, until Enterline scored a reversal with 28 seconds remaining.

Enterline was then able to ride Kolesar out for the entire third period to preserve the win.

In her first consolation bracket match, Kolesar found herself trailing 2-0 after Selinsgrove’s Tamiah Fegley registered a takedown with 11 seconds remaining in the first period.

Kolesar chose neutral to start the second period, and dominated the middle two minutes. She scored a four-point move 30 seconds into the stanza, and added another three-point set of back points to take a 7-2 lead into the final two minutes.

Fegley chose top to start the third period, but Kolesar managed a reversal midway through the stanza, then finished the bout with a three-point near-fall move for a 12-3 major decision.

In the consolation round-of-4, Kolesar dropped a 4-0 decision to Conneaut Area’s Daylee Watson, who scored a reversal midway through the second period, and a takedown with 46 seconds left in the third period for the win.

In the seventh-place match, Kolesar recorded a 6-2 decision over Parkland’s Abigail Taylor.

Kolesar scored a takedown midway through the first period, and maintained the 2-0 lead after successfully riding top the entire second period.

In the third period, Kolesar scored a four-point move, and led 6-0 when Taylor registered a reversal with 46 seconds remaining.

Rathbun, wrestling at 130 pounds, was 1-2 on the day.

“I feel really bad for Hanna (Rathbun),” said White. “She was bracketed into a bad spot. A girl she beat earlier in the day is medaling … it is what it is, though. It’s the way things work.”

In the round-of-16, Rathbun used a strong third period to forge a 9-0 win over Camp Hill’s Keeley Nunn.

Rathbun scored a takedown and rode top for the final 88 seconds of the opening stanza to take a 2-0 lead into the second period.

It remained 2-0 heading into the third period after Nunn rode Rathbun for the entire second period.

Rathbun chose neutral to start the third period, and scored another takedown, and two sets of near-fall points to close out the win.

In the quarterfinals, Rathbun ran into second-seeded Joelle Scott of Northwestern, and lost via fall in 1:38.

In the “blood round,” Rathbun lost via fall in 4:44, to William Tennent’s Gabriella Maslanka, who led 7-2 at the time of the fall.

Nason, wrestling at 235, was 1-2 on the day.

“Leah (Nason) is only a month or so into (wrestling), she’s been a basketball player,” said White. “She only has a few bouts, and she got a win.

“I’m proud of her,” added White.

In the round-of-16, Nason lost via fall in 3:44 to North Allegheny’s Kaylee Dean.

After a scoreless first period, Dean, who chose top to start the second period, used an arm bar to turn Nason for the win.

Nason bounced back in wrestlebacks with a pin of Lebanon’s Perla Chavez in 2:49.

Nason scored a takedown late in the first period for a 2-0 lead. She chose top in the second period, and was able to turn Chavez late in the second period for the fall.

Nason’s day came to an end in the next round of wrestlebacks, via fall in 2:01 to Honesdale’s Jaidyn Mikulak.

Mikulak led 1-0 after the first period, after receiving a point for a technical violation on Nason. She increased her lead to 3-0 with a reversal midway through the second period, then turned Nason for the fall.

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IN PHOTOS 1-8: Anaiah Kolesar. IN PHOTOS 9-16: Hanna Rathbun. IN PHOTO 17-24: Leah Nason. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.

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