"We have to be careful going live (full speed in practice)," said Barrick, the Mechanicsburg wrestling coach. "They'll beat up on each other. They get guys injured all the time if we go live. We have to do more drilling and that kind of thing. It's tough. This is a unique group of upperweights."
Spring Grove learned how strong they were Tuesday in a 49-18 dual loss at Mechanicsburg in the quarterfinal round of the District 3 Class AAA Team Tournament. Spring Grove beat ELCO, 57-18, in the preliminary round earlier in the day.
The quarterfinal match started with Mechanicsburg junior Mitchell Ramsey pinning Tyler Miller in 1 minute, 15 seconds in the 152-pound bout. The Rockets then lost six consecutive matches against Mechanicsburg's best wrestlers, who gave the Wildcats a 37-0 lead.
"We told the kids what was going to happen," Spring Grove coach Tony Miller said. "We were honest with them. If you can get out of there without getting pinned, that's a great thing. If you can't, don't panic. They're going to score some points at the top. If you're prepared for it, you know what you have to get at the end."
The Rockets secured their first points when Zack Clingan won an 11-4 decision against Alex Spaseff in the 106-pound bout. Teammate Derek Carlisle then received a forfeit at 113 to trim the lead to 37-9.
Mechanicsburg's Michael Crosson, however, secured the match win with a 5-3 decision against Alec Zorbaugh in the 120-pound bout. Following two more losses, Mason Bentzel, who won by forfeit at 138 pounds, and Mike Hartman, a 2-1 winner by tiebreaker at 145, finished the match with wins for Spring Grove.
"At the bottom weights," Miller said, "we couldn't get it to come back our way."
Barrick said he didn't have to forfeit those bouts but decided to do so because he didn't want to risk an injury where he had little depth.
"They're tough (at the lower weights)," he said. "We knew they were going to be fighters. Looking back, it was probably to our advantage starting at the upper weights."
Miller considered how strong Mechanicsburg's heavier wrestlers were and disagreed.
"You get a lead and then get hit like that, it takes all the wind out of your sails," he said. "Start at the bottom, maybe we get a big lead and hold on. Well, momentum swings and starts to shift the other way. They're incredible athletes they have at the upper weights, no doubt about it. We did try to limit the damage, but in some places we couldn't."
The Rockets had little trouble advancing to their quarterfinal match against Mechanicsburg. In the preliminary round, they jumped to a 15-0 lead after three bouts against ELCO.
The Raiders then drew within three, 15-12, after Colton Dunkle and Dylan Hickernell pinned Jon Gross and Max Copenheaver in the 170- and 182-pound bouts, respectively.
Spring Grove, however, scored 46 consecutive points in seven bouts to take a 51-12 lead. Alec Zorbaugh's 16-1 technical fall win against Nick Knight in the 113-pound bout iced the eventual 57-18 win for Spring Grove.
Mechanicsburg also easily coasted against its preliminary-round opponent, the Manheim Central Barons, 47-22. They were coached by Troy Sunderland, who resigned as Penn State's head coach on April 4, 2009, and is in his third year with the Barons.
Spring Grove must now prepare for individual postseason tournaments, which begin in two weeks.
"When you make it to team states, it's great," Miller said. "But it does take away some preparation you want for the postseason tournament. It's an individual tournament now. That's what I told my kids. 'It's up to you and you only now.'"
firstname.lastname@example.org; 717-637-3736, extension 139