Butler Area's Ryan Hannon, top, defeated Peters Township's Mitch Fitzgerald, 3-0, in the semifinals of the Chartiers-Houston tournament to open the season.
By Ken Wunderley / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Butler Area wrestling coach Scott Stoner is disappointed with senior Ryan Hannon, but it has nothing to do with Hannon's performance during the 2013-14 season.
"I would like to see Ryan wrestle in college," said Stoner of his three-year starter at 170 pounds. "But Ryan doesn't want to wrestle in college."
Hannon wants to concentrate on academics.
"I'm going to Penn State University to major in petroleum engineering," said Hannon, who ranks in the top 10 percent of his graduating class with a 4.16 grade-point average. "I've enjoyed wrestling in high school, but I want to concentrate on academics in college. This is my final year of wrestling."
Stoner wrestled when he attended Slippery Rock University and urges his better wrestlers to continue their careers in college.
"I've had a lot of college coaches call about Ryan," Stoner said. "Unfortunately, I've had to tell them he's done after this year. Having wrestled in college, it's hard for me to comprehend a talented wrestler such as Ryan passing up a college career."
Stoner is impressed with Hannon's intelligence, both on and off the mat.
"Ryan is a very smart kid who studies the sport well," Stoner said. "He's quick to pick up techniques and break them down for his teammates. He does a great job of keeping himself in good condition."
Hannon broke into Butler's starting lineup as a sophomore, but could have started as a freshman if it weren't for a bad break ... literally.
"Ryan suffered a stress fracture in his foot while playing football as a freshman," Stoner said. "I wanted to bring him up to the varsity, but he missed the first month of the season, so I left him on the junior high team."
Hannon completed his freshman season on the junior high team, then moved up to the varsity as a sophomore. He placed second in Class AAA Section 3, then lost two matches in a row at the WPIAL tournament and finished the season with a 26-11 record.
"The transition from junior high to varsity was a little tough," Hannon said. "I would have done better if I could have wrestled [varsity] as a freshman."
Hannon returned at 170 last season and won a section title, and placed sixth in the WPIAL, en route to a 33-5 record.
"I was two wins away from a PIAA berth," Hannon said. "It stings to come that close. It's made me work even harder this year."
Hannon began the 2013-14 season at 182 pounds at the Chartiers-Houston Invitational, then dropped to 170 the following week. He entered the week with a 19-2 record and is No. 3 in the WPIAL Class AAA rankings.
"There's no Cody Wiercioch at 170 this year," said Stoner, referring to a three-time PIAA champion who graduated from Canon-McMillan last year. "It's a wide-open weight class."
Chartiers Valley's Noah Wilps (12-1) is ranked No. 1 and Central Catholic's Kyle Coniker (19-3) is No. 2 at 170.
"I wrestled Wilps last year and he beat me in a close match," Hannon said. "I've never wrestled Coniker. My goal is to win a WPIAL title and wrestle in Hershey. That would be a great way to end my wrestling career."
Hannon's career may be ending soon, but his love for the sport will live on.
"I may not be wrestling in college, but I can become a fan," Hannon said.
"I will definitely follow the Nittany Lions wrestling team. [coach] Cael Sanderson has the best program in the country. It will be fun watching them the next four years."
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