HERSHEY – Once Garth Lakitsky got a hold of the waist of Octorara senior Nate Ronan, he wasn't going to let Ronan break his grasp.
The Tamaqua junior 189 pounder rode out Ronan for the entire 30 seconds in the second overtime tiebreaker to hold on for a 6-5 victory in the PIAA State Class AA quarterfinals this morning at the Giant Center.
The victory, Lakitsky's second OT win over Ronan in as many weeks, advances him to this evening's semifinal round against Towanda senior Travis Chesla (39-1), who edged Brookville junior Dylan Scheidt 1-0 in the quarters.
It also clinched a State medal for Lakitsky, fulfilling a family legacy; his father, Garth, Sr., was a two-time PIAA Class AA medalist for the Blue Raiders, placing third in 1985 and fourth in 1986 at 167 pounds.
"It's awesome," said Lakitsky after earning the State hardware. "That was my main goal. Now it's about moving up and seeing what I can do."
Lakitsky, now 36-3, qualified for States as a sophomore last year but dropped his two bouts.
This time, he served immediate notice that this year would be different, scoring a 9-1 major decision over Greenville senior R.J. Malson, a fourth place State placewinner a year ago, in his preliminary round bout on Thursday.
Lakitsky dominated Malson on the mat, scoring a total of five nearfall points, a two-pointer in which he stacked up Malson, and three more with a half-nelson.
Lakitsky and Ronan, who entered their quarterfinal bout at 32-5, are familiar with each other. Ronan defeated Lakitsky in last year's Southeast AA Regional, while Lakitsky returned the favor last week, scoring a 6-4 OT win in the Regional quarters.
After a scoreless first period, Ronan chose the bottom to start the second period and escaped, then got in on Lakitsky's leg and scored a takedown near the edge of the mat for a 3-0 lead.
A Lakitsky escape cut the deficit to 3-1 after two periods. Lakitsky selected defense to begin the third period and escaped early to move within 3-2, but Ronan managed his second takedown with 58 seconds left for a 5-2 advantage.
Lakitsky escaped once again three seconds later to make it 3-2 and kept the heat on Ronan, locking up the upper body and pushing Ronan around the mat, trying for the tying takedown.
Lakitsky's aggression paid off, as Ronan was hit with two penalty points, one for stalling and one for his third caution for a false start. That knoted the score at 5-5 and forced overtime.
The one-minute sudden death period ended with no scoring. Lakitsky started the first 30-second tiebreaker on the bottom and almost had a reversal by the side of the mat before he finally broke free from Ronan with seven seconds to go and a 6-5 lead.
In the second tiebreaker, Lakitsky demonstrated his strength, bearhugging Ronan by the waist and lifting him off the mat several times as time ran out to preserve the win.
One could hear an "oomph" from Ronan when Lakitsky returned him back to the mat the final time.
"That was tough, very tough," said Lakitsky. "I kept going at him. He started stalling and got that third caution, which helped me out. I think I left a takedown get away from me at the edge of the mat, which I can't do.
"When I got behind, I was thinking, 'I can't lose this', so I kept pushing him. I felt I was better conditioned, so that helped me out."
Lakitsky also worked on his riding skills during practice, and the preparation paid dividends.
"I'm not the best on top, but I worked on it this week at Blue Mountain, and that helped me out, too," he added.
"That kid (Ronan) was good at getting in on Garth's leg, so we told Garth to keep his hands inside so that Ronan couldn't pick his leg," said Tamaqua coach Jim McCabe. "One thing we had going for us is that Ronan tires out and after the second period in overtime, he ran out of gas."