Ryan wins second state medal, a silver

Sentinel photo by JEFF FISHBEIN
Mount Union's Jake Ryan stands on the podium after winning silver in the Class 2A 285-pound tournament Saturday in Hershey.

HERSHEY — By virtue of the weight class, Jake Ryan didn’t get to wrestle in front of a full house at Giant Center. But his family by the dozen was more than enough to make up for it.

While the cheering and support was there for Mount Union’s 285-pound wrestler, his offense fell short.

Ryan was unable to solve Brookville’s Colby Whitehill in the championship round of the PIAA Class 2A tournament Saturday, as Whitehill turned a pair of takedowns into a 5-2 victory and the state title.

Ryan improved to silver from last year’s fourth-place finish. After time with family after the medal ceremony, Ryan was ready to put into perspective what he had accomplished.

“If you would have told me before I was in high school, even my freshman year — I didn’t even make it to states — that in two years I was going to be in the state final, I’d have told you you were on something,” he said. “I didn’t exactly get what I wanted but it’s truly a blessing. I wish I could have gotten more but I do realize it was a blessing.”

Ryan, like Underhill a junior, already has his calendar marked for a third visit to Chocolate Town, and a different outcome in mind.

“I’ve just got to work harder, come get it next year. I promise next time the outcome is going to be different,” he said.

Ryan’s loss was just the second blemish on his season record (39-2), and he has 110 career wins to Underhill’s 92. Underhill finished the year without a loss, and like Ryan, has just a handful in his career.

Ryan does keep bragging rights in the family — his finished (fourth and second) outpace his twin brothers, Keith and Kevin, who claimed just one medal between them at states, but were there together to present his medal.

“They won the medal,” Jake Ryan said. “They’re the reason I’m here. They’re the reason I’m as good as I am and I owe them everything.

“They teach me not only about wrestling but about life itself.”

In the final, Whitehill attacked fast, using underhooks to try and gain control. Ryan countered with the same fury, working to overcome the Brookville wrestler’s slight advantage in size and height.

“He was pretty tall. He has real long arms,” Ryan said. “It’s hard to get past his defense.”

The scoreless first period was wrestled without a stoppage. Whitehill won the toss and took defense to start the second, coming up fast. Ryan went into his comfort zone, the headlock, and the bigger opponent made him pay. Underhill had a takedown 30 seconds into the second.

Although Ryan escaped, it was 3-1 in favor of Brookville when the last two minutes began.

“I knew that he was more of a defensive wrestler. And he’s real big and tall,” Ryan said. “I should have been more weary and not tried to score. I should have waited for his mistake. I tried to generate an offense and I let that get the best of me.”

Ryan chose the bottom to start the third period, and needed almost half of it to get to his feet. As the season ticked away, he tried again for the headlock, and ended up on the mat one last time. Underhill ended the match showboating in his ride, bordering on unsportsmanlike conduct as he raised and pumped his arms before time expired.

“Being at the top — I was ranked No. 1 all year — everyone wants your spot. They all study you, learn how you wrestle, know who you are. I’ve been wrestling forever — everyone knows who the Ryans are and how we wrestle,” Ryan said. “He came prepared and I didn’t — that’s that.”

PIAA Class 2A wrestling championships


285: Colby Whitehill, Brookeville, dec. Jake Ryan, Mount Union, 5-2