Cathedral Prep’s Paniro Johnson Upsets Nationally-Ranked Jagger Condomitti to Reach State Semis

HERSHEY, Pa.: Erie Cathedral Prep’s Paniro Johnson knew it was going to be an uphill battle to make it to the state finals.

It didn’t matter that Johnson was a returning state medalist in Class 3A-120 a year ago. That meant nothing in this field. He was competing in a super-tough 145-pound weight class against some of the best kids in the country.

In other words, Johnson had to be at his best despite slipping to 15th in the state rankings after a couple of uncharacteristic defeats.

Numbers and rankings didn’t mean anything Friday afternoon at Hershey’s Giant Center. Johnson put together a strong third period and upended Nothampton’s Jagger Condomitti by a 7-6 count in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Championships.

It was a huge victory for Johnson. Condomitti entered the bout ranked fourth in the state, according to PA Power Wrestling, and 19th in the country by

“I came in and wasn’t ranked very high, so I knew it was going to be a hard bracket,” Johnson said. “I knew I was going to have nationally-ranked kids all the way through the quarters, semifinals, and finals.

“They keep getting better and better, and I know I have to wrestle hard and keep the pace up. I feel like I was pretty good on my feet, but I felt like I was still wrestling slow. I had to do it, everyone was here, and I got the job done.”

Johnson got off to a quick start with a takedown 30 seconds into the match. Condomitti escaped, and the match headed to the second with Johnson in front 2-1.

Things got dicey for the Ramblers sophomore in the second. Condomitti escaped and appeared to have more juice on his feet, which he turned into another takedown with seven seconds left in the period.

“I was tired, but that’s why I work hard every day in practice,” Johnson said. “Every single person is going to be tired, at some point. The difference is who is going to wrestle better tired. I just wrestled better tired than he did.”

Johnson escaped in the first 20 seconds of the third to make it 4-3. He got busy on his feet and finished off a takedown with 1:12 showing on the clock. Condomitti escaped with a minute left to even the match at 5.

But, Johnson kept pushing the pace. He forced the action and got Condomitti off balance, securing a takedown with 26 seconds left to go up 7-5.

Johnson did just enough on top to hold Condomitti down for 20 seconds. The Konkrete Kids sophomore escaped and had six seconds to make something happen but fell short on the scoring pylon by a single point.

“I weighed three pounds under today,” Johnson said. “I was going to go 138 at the beginning of the year, but something happened with the descent plan.

“If I win the 145 bracket, it’s going to be way better than winning at 138. Both weights are tough, but I feel 145 is better. Plus, I don’t have to cut a pound. Wrestling is a lot more fun when you aren’t cutting weight.”

Things don’t get any easier in Saturday’s morning semifinal round. Johnson will hit Council Rock North’s Cameron Robinson, the No. 18-ranked wrestler in the country.

“I still have hard kids,” Johnson said. “Everyone says they don’t have nerves, but I wrestle better when I’m nervous.

“I need to keep going as hard as I can and keep winning. I wrestled a nationally-ranked kid and have another nationally-ranked kid next. It should be fun.”

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