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Ballard finishes fourth

Gabe Ballard’s stellar freshman season for the Konkrete Kids culminated in a fourth-place finish at the state tournament last weekend in Hershey.

A highly accomplished youth wrestler, including winning a junior high state title, Ballard described the experience of stepping on the mats at the Giant Center, “It is 100% a different feeling. The whole atmosphere is a lot different here than at Johnstown for junior high states. This doesn’t compare to anything I’ve experienced so far.”

“It was nerve-wracking at the beginning, and it was nerve-wracking all the way up til the end. It feels good to be able to be in here for my freshman year, placing fourth, better than I thought I was actually going to do. Making the semis was stressful and the rest…just happened,” he added.

He won his opening round bout against Connor Lenahan of Council Rock South 4-1 and advanced to the semifinals with a fall against Kavin Muyleart of Cedar Cliff in the quarters in 3:10.

In the semis he lost a wild 9-8 match to eventual champion Landon Sidun of Norwin. Sidun scored the first 4 points of the match, but Ballard was able to rally to tie it at 5 going into the third period. Sidun scored a reversal and 2 nearfall points to go up 9-5. Ballard escaped and scored a takedown but could not get a turn during the last 21 seconds for the win.

He beat Lenahan 4-3 in the consolation semifinals, before dropping the consolation final to Kaedyn Williams of Manheim Township, a previous state champion and 4-time top 4 state medalist, 8-3.

The AAA 114-pound bracket looked to be loaded with talent and Ballard concurred, “AA 121 was definitely the hardest bracket here, but I feel like my bracket was the second hardest. We had the number one kid in the country. It is what it is. You have to go out there and wrestle.”

Head coach Joe Provini echoed the sentiment, “I think if you wrestled that weight class a couple different weekends, you’d get 3 or 4 different guys winning it. He wrestled great. And that’s all you can control is how you wrestle. Gabe’s phenomenal and the book on him is yet to be written. He’s got a lot of big wins yet to come.”

Press photo by Don Herb Gabe Ballard took home fourth place from states this past weekend.