Kenny Yanovich doesn't believe he has a mental block when it comes to taking on Parkland's Ethan Lizak. That may be true, but Yanovich still hasn't found the key to figuring out beating Lizak on the mat. The Parkland junior scored a 9-1 major decision over Yanovich in Saturday night's 113-pound finals at Liberty's Memorial Gymnasium during the District 11 3A championships.
Yanovich was the only Bear in the finals, as three PV wresters move on to this week's Northeast Regional 3A tournament back at Liberty.
Pleasant Valley finished 10th overall with 63 points in the 22-team field, as Parkland took home the team title with a 220.5 points, followed by Easton (199) and Nazareth (160) rounding out the top three.
Yanovich expects to find himself as a top-three place-winner this weekend as well for a trip to Hershey, but he knows he'll likely see Lizak down the road at regionals too.
"I don't think I have a mental block taking on Lizak, but I do have to get over the fact that I've never beaten him," said Yanovich of squaring off against Lizak. "I just have to work on his head to slow him down. He scores a lot of points when you stop wrestling and he took advantage of that tonight. I didn't wrestle my best match."
Head coach Mark Getz sat with Yanovich briefly following his finals defeat and reiterated some of the familiar sentiments about busting through the mental block of not only beating Lizak, but also somebody who is a defending state champion.
"I was proud of how he wrestled, but he's got to get over that mental hurdle with Lizak," Getz said. "He's wrestled him [Lizak] since midgets and six or seven times in high school. Kenny's a great wrestler and we got to fix some things and go out every week and have the belief that he can beat him. That's what it's really going to come down to."
Lizak's state championship pedigree isn't something that scares Yanovich, but it may be something that he can use as motivation, since he's never defeated him during his high school career.
"You have to be confident about what you want to do when you're taking him on," said Yanovich. "Taking him on this week should help me going forward. It shows me what my flaws are and hopefully that can be a difference."
James Felipa (120) took fourth and Garrett Gouger (132) grabbed fifth place to each advance to regionals to round out the Bears contingent.
Felipa's goal was to grab a bronze medal at districts, but he found himself on the end of some revenge by Nazareth's Tyler Tarsi. After defeating Tarsi 7-6 in the quarterfinals, Tarsi pinned Felipa in 2:22 in their consolation round bout.
Gouger, a freshman who probably wasn't one of the favorites to move on, battled through the consolation bracket after losing in the quarterfinals to Parkland's Ian Evans.
He then lost to Emmaus's Jacob Younger in the wrestle backs to set up his fifth place bout with Freedom's Adam Evans, where he prevailed 3-1.
Despite only sending three wrestlers, Getz understood the realistic expectations from this year's group.
"It was an up and down weekend," Getz said. "We would have liked Joell [Toledo] and Hunter [Deihl] move on. Disappointed that our heavyweight [Mike Benner] didn't advance, but Felipa wrestled well to take fourth and having Gouger move on as a freshman is great. This is pretty much a brand new team this year.
"We have about 10 new faces this year and I think we did well with what we had."