Talley braces for the PVL’s best

Prep Wrestling
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Absence indeed makes the heart grow fonder. For Ryan Talley, two long years without wrestling had him chomping at the bit to get back and do battle on the mat. Now he doesn’t care who is standing in his way, even if it’s state-ranked Khymba Johnson of Center, whom he could face today at the Pioneer Valley league Championships. “I don’t give a crap who I’m facing, I’m going to go out and wrestle my heart out,” said Talley, who will be the No. 3 seed at 195 pounds in today’s tournament. “I’m not afraid of Khymba. Everyone talks about how good he is, but I haven’t seen it. I want to go out and wrestle him (today).” After a scary shoulder injury wiped out half of his freshman year and all of his sophomore season, Talley had to talk his dad into letting him join the Placer High wrestling team this season. During an exhibition match against a teammate in 2010, Talley crashed down awkwardly on his shoulder. He continued to wrestle for several minutes before relenting to the pain in the third period. He had suffered a cracked growth plate, a chipped collarbone, a partially torn rotator cuff and pulled muscles and tendons in his shoulder. The time off allowed him to get bigger and stronger. He was up to 210 pounds during football season last fall when first-year Placer coach Don Packheiser tapped him on the shoulder and reminded him that wrestling season was fast approaching. Talley went right to work after football, and he’s dropped more than 20 pounds since late November. “It’s all thanks to Coach Packheiser,” Talley said. As Talley slimmed down, the coach didn’t hesitate to move him up in the lineup to the 220-pound weight class. “He’s wrestled up a lot for us, so he hasn’t seen some of these guys, and they haven’t seen him,” Packheiser said. Talley has yet to face Johnson, the Center star who is ranked No. 6 in California. Bear River’s Travis McKnight is the No. 2 seed, but Talley said he’s not worried about rankings and records as the postseason begins. The top four finishers at today’s tournament will advance to the Division III tournament in Benicia, where they will aim for a trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters in Stockton. “I want to go to Masters, if not state,” Talley said. “If I push myself hard enough, I know I can reach that goal. It’s been a pretty good season for my first time wrestling in two years.” Freshman Josh Mason is the lone No. 1 seed at the PVL Championships for Placer. He is the top seed at 113 pounds. “We’re a very young team, but we’re very talented,”?Talley said.?“I think next year we’ll take the PVL, for sure.”