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Lisko has heavy goal

December 18, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The weight he rips away from his body Brian Lisko hopes to gain back in postseason medals.

The pounds will return; Lisko can't. This is the senior season for the Waynesboro High School wrestler, whose goal is to earn a first-time berth in the PIAA Class AAA state tournament in March and place in the top eight in the 135-pound weight class.

Lisko came close to qualifying for states at 140 last season, finishing fourth - one place shy of a berth - at the District 3 championships.

"Actually, it doesn't get any closer, really," Indians coach Aaron Taylor said. "He lost in the semifinals (8-7 to three-time district champ Matt Barnett of Hempfield) with about eight seconds left, and he lost 1-0 (to Cumberland Valley's Erik Goodling, whom Lisko beat in the quarterfinals) in the consolation finals."

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Lisko is set to give it his best shot at 135 this season. And he's quick to say the drop in weight isn't because he's ducking anyone.

"I'm not too worried about where people are. I just want to be where I can wrestle my best," he said. "No matter what weight class you're at, there's going to be tough kids there."

Testing the 135 waters for the first time this year, Lisko won his second straight Mid-Penn Conference tournament title last weekend at Milton Hershey's Spartan Center.

"Not many people win it twice," said Lisko, the 140 champ last year, who's 7-0 this season and 83-31 for his career. "Winning it twice magnifies it a lot."

He beat Carlisle's highly touted and top-seeded Tommy Wambold - the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Carlisle Holiday Tournament the previous weekend and a state qualifier last year - 6-2 in the finals, scoring a reversal and nearfall in the final minute for the winning points.

"I just wanted to go down to 135 to see how it felt, and it felt pretty good," said Lisko, who weighed nearly 155 pounds while playing soccer for the Indians this fall. "Pulling weight is always difficult, but it wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be.

"My shape and conditioning were really good. I didn't gas at all. I was in a lot better shape than the kids who had already been down there."

But the path to the conference finals wasn't quite as easy as it might sound.

After advancing with a first-round bye and second-round tech fall, Lisko, the second seed, got caught in a headlock against Lower Dauphin's Cody Youtz during the first period of the quarterfinals and found himself trailing, 6-2.

"I was shocked when it happened," Lisko said. "It was scary, but I knew I had time to work. ... It was a mental challenge."

After knotting the score 6-6 in the third period, Lisko surrendered a point by allowing Youtz to escape and then took him down with 17 seconds remaining for an 8-7 victory.

"Hopefully that was his scare for the season," Taylor said. "We don't want anymore like that."

Lisko's older brother, John, a 2000 Waynesboro grad and senior wrestler at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, was also a Mid-Penn champ at 135 his senior year at Waynesboro.

Brian Lisko may continue to follow in his brother's footsteps.

"I'm looking at the Coast Guard Academy and I'd like to wrestle there," he said. "But I'm still keeping my options open and seeing if anyone comes knocking."

If he achieves his ultimate goal of winning districts and placing in the top three at states, someone likely will.

"If you place in the top three in Pennsylvania, you're pretty dang tough," Taylor said. "Every kid you wrestle at states is tough."

The coach knows Lisko belongs in that company.

"He's one of the best I've had and definitely one of the most technically sound wrestlers I've ever been around," Taylor said. "He's amazingly good on his feet and is able to take just about anyone down."

"It's my senior year," Lisko said. "I just want to have fun and see how far I can get."

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