HERSHEY – In our results-driven society, we sometimes equate performance and doing our best with reaching goals.
Jeff Inman performed admirably this weekend at Hershey’s Giant Center, but did not reach the Class AA 132-pound medal podium at the PIAA Wrestling Championships.
So did the Annville-Cleona sophomore do his best? Well, that is yet to come.
On Friday afternoon, Inman fell short of his goal of a medal at the state wrestling tournament, falling to Dalton Zimmerman, a tenth-grader from Brookville, 3-1 in the second-round of consolations. Inman had been relegated to the consolation bracket by an 8-2 loss to undefeated Jason Nolf of Kitttaning, during a quarterfinal bout Friday morning.
The losses ended Inman’s campaign at 41-6
. “I thought I did OK,” said Inman. “But I didn’t think I wrestled my best. The atmosphere here is a lot different. It’s more intense. I’ve just got to be more prepared next time.”
“I thought he wrestled well all three matches,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Mike Miller, referencing Inman’s 4-2 OT victory in his Thursday opener. “He wrestles hard. I don’t think there was ever a point where he was out of matches or over matched.
“There’s some things he’s going to work on,” Miller added. “Just being a tenth-grader, he’s going to grow and mature. It’s hard to score on these guys. As a sophomore, he’s in a great place. This is just going to drive him that much more.”
Trailing Zimmerman 3-1 late, Inman put himself in position for a potential tying takedown, but couldn’t complete the move. It appeared that Inman could’ve eventually gotten there, had he had more time.
Inman had sliced his deficit to 3-1 with an escape in the middle of the final stanza.
“I just try to keep it close to the end, and then pull out that one move,” said Inman. “I shot in, and he (Zimmerman) kind of slipped off and rolled through. But he still had my leg and I couldn’t finish it.”
“It was very close,” said Miller. “Some places along the line he might have gotten that takedown. But I don’t think he actually had it. If I would’ve been officiating, I wouldn’t have given in.
“It was a tight match, like we expected,” continued Miller. “I thought he (Inman) wrestled fairly well. But he gave up that takedown at the end of the second period, and that was the difference.”
Following a scoreless opening period, Zimmerman escaped Inman 34 seconds into the second to grab a 1-0 lead. Then with five seconds left in the stanza, Zimmerman notched what would prove to be the decisive takedown.
“Yeah, it was a pretty awesome experience,” said Inman. “I’m just going to have to come back next year and get on the podium.
“I’ve just got to be confident I can beat those better kids,” Inman added. “And train on my weaknesses. Getting out on the bottom would be an area I could improve I guess. But this will be a driving point for next year.”
“He had a great year,” said Miller. “This was the first time he was in the loser’s bracket in any tournament he’s been in. He’s consistent. He leads by example. Sometime he’s not going to just want to come here and medal. Maybe he’ll reassess his goals and want to be a state champion.”
Searching for countering opportunities, the defensive-minded Inman could not uncover any chinks in Nolf’s armor.
Thanks to a late first-period escape, Inman was very much in his quarterfinal bout, down just 3-1 entering the final period. But Inman was whistled for his third false-start caution, and that technical point made it 4-1, then seconds later Nolf registered a quick two-point near-fall to establish a nearly insurmountable five-point bulge.
“I knew that first kid was amazing,” said Inman of Nolf. “He lost one match ever. I went out and couldn’t do anything. It’s just disappointing.”
“I thought that match was closer than the score indicates,” said Miller of the morning bout. “That match turned on the last caution. I thought Nolf was the one who jumped and they called it on Jeff.”
A Lebanon County champion and a District Three Class AA sectional champ, Inman reached the finals at the Lancaster-Lebanon League, district and Southeast Regional tournaments. In the fall, Inman was an integral competitor for the Annville-Cleona boys’ cross country team that claimed its third straight District Three Class AA title.
“He’s quiet,” said Miller of Inman. “This year he’s going out for track, and he’s excellent at that. School-wise, he’s in the top ten of his class.
“There isn’t any emotion on his face when he wrestles,” Miller continued. “Sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad. That’s his personality. I had him in class and he doesn’t raise his hand. But when I called on him, he knew the answer.”