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Valley Sports Report
PITTSBURGH — Sophia Barrett finished second, and Kruze Payne placed seventh to pace a contingent of six Athens wrestlers at the PJW State Wrestling Championships over the weekend.

Barrett, wrestling in the Girls 10U, 70-pound division, led the way for the Wildcats on Day 1, winning round-of-32, and round-of-16 matches, including a win by fall over third-place finisher from last year, Gianna Suhadolnik of Apollo-Ridge.

The Wildcats had a strong Day 1 showing with Payne (10U Boys, 95 pounds, Jacob Cobb, and Beau Hall all going 2-1 and advancing to Day 2. Liam Warner (Boys 12U, 70 pounds) and Nathaniel MacBride (Boys 12U, 125 pounds) also competed Saturday, with both being eliminated.

On Day 2, Barrett came out focused and won her quarter-final bout by 9-0 major decision over Ella Saussol of Canon-McMillan, sending her to the state semifinals.

Barrett wasted little time in punching her ticket to the state finals, needing just 16 seconds to dispose of her opponent Breslyn Simmons of Quaker Valley.

"Sophia came out on Day 2 on an absolute mission, her opponent in the quarters was tough and she dominated the match," said Athens coach Travis Bennett. "In the semifinals, Sophia did what she does best and took the girl from her feet to her back and got a quick fall

"It was very exciting to have a state finalist for the program and for Sophia to have gotten herself exactly where we expected to be come Sunday afternoon, in the state finals," he added.

In the finals, Barrett came up short, losing a tough battle, 6-3, to Aleeya Dreshman of Canon-McMillan.

"In the finals, we had the match up we expected. Dreshman placed similar to Sophia last year and was being talked about as a favorite for the title," said Bennett.

"Sophia wrestled outstanding all weekend long, but in the finals, I think she just tightened up a little in the bright lights," he noted. "Dreshman has an outstanding go-behind and she counter wrestled very well on her feet.

"In the end, though, Sophia proved for a second year in a row that she is among the very best girls pound for pound at her age in Pennsylvania," added Bennett.

Starting Day 2 in the wrestle backs, Payne got a huge 4-2 overtime win, moving him one match closer to securing a state medal. Payne wasted little time winning that match by fall in 41 seconds against Tanner Kosiorek of Wattsburg to secure a top-eight finish.

Payne would drop his next consolation bout, then bounce back with a 6-3 win over Logan Schreiner of Fort LeBoeuf to end the tourney with a 5-2 mark, and as the seventh-place finish.

"What an awesome weekend," said Bennett. "Sophia became our first girls state finalist, Kruze cashed in on his first state medal, and all four from the 10U group were still wrestling Sunday morning.

"This group of kids is just going to continue to flourish, they work their butts off and they trust and believe in the program and their coaches," added Bennett.


IN PHOTO: Sophia Barrett (left) and Kruze Payne. ... PHOTOS PROVIDED.

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