Wrestling coaches sometimes refer to a tournament with a strong field as a "meat grinder."

That term certainly applies to the District 3 Class AAA Tournament, which doubles as the PIAA Southcentral Regional. There will some serious grinding going on Friday and Saturday at Hersheypark Arena, when the district's top wrestlers get together to decide who will earn gold medals and who will qualify for the PIAA State Tournament.

District 3 has historically sent its top three finishers to states, but, thanks to some rearranging in other regionals, it will now send its top four. Based on District 3's big-time success at states in the past few years, it's a welcome and fair change.

Chambersburg coach Doug Rine said, "I would not be surprised to see four or five of the fourth-place finishers from our region end up with medals at states - that's how tough District 3 has gotten. But you still want to finish at least third, because if you're fourth you'll definitely hit another regional champ in the first round of states."

For veteran wrestlers like Chambersburg seniors Tanner Shoap and Garett Hammond, both defending champions, getting through districts would seem to be a foregone conclusion. But it's not that easy.

Just ask Greencastle-Antrim's Cody Carbaugh, who came excruciatingly close to advancing to states last year. He lost to the eventual champion in the quarterfinals, then worked his way back through the consolations for a shot at third place, but fell two points short.

That has given him motivation for this year.

G-A coach Fred Yelton said, "Cody is wrestling like a man on a mission. This is his third go-round at districts and I do not believe anyone is going to get in his way of qualifying for states. Two years ago he was 0-2, last year he was 3-2; this year I believe he will take the next step and achieve that goal.

"There is a certain look a senior gets when he has made his mind up to accomplish something and Cody has that look. Cody has a lifelong goal of qualifying for states and I believe everything he has committed to and done has prepared him for this moment."

Carbaugh (27-3) is in the opposite side of the bracket as Shoap (34-7) at 113 pounds, and James Buchanan's Hunter Faith (25-6) in on Shoap's side, but they couldn't meet until the semifinals.

"Tanner is 100 percent healthy and looks like he's peaking," Rine said.

JB coach Matt Gordon said, "It's AAA districts, so Hunter will have a tough road. But he's had a great week of practice."

Hammond (40-5), who is also a defending PIAA champion, was in a ridiculously strong weight class at sectionals last week and lost to Cumberland Valley's T.C. Warner 7-6 in the final. It's that way again this week - 6 of the 16 wrestlers at 152 are ranked in the top 15 in the state.

Rine said, "It's an interesting bracket. Garett's in with three other ranked kids in the bottom half. He could meet (Tanner) Druck (of Dallastown, 29-5) in the quarters, and (Clay) Kocsis (of Gettysburg, 30-1) and (Austin) Rose (Central Dauphin, 41-4) meet in the first round."

Three more of Franklin County's 13 entries have previous district experience. The Trojans' Dontez King (26-10 at 195) and David Rump (25-11 at 126) qualified last year and Shippensburg's Cary Hess (26-2 at 285) did not make it last year, but did as a sophomore.

King was 1-2 last year and hits Harrisburg's Lemir Isom in the first round - he beat Isom in a close match last year in a dual. Rump could meet one of the favorites, Cortlandt Schuyler of Manheim Township (37-4) in the quarters.

Hess, who is considered by most to be one of the top four contenders, could see Bo Spiller of Solanco (26-6) in the quarterfinals.

Ship coach Tony Yaniello said, "Cary lost by one point to the top seed (Joey Goodhart of Hempfield, 32-3) in the Carlisle tournament, and most of the other wrestlers in his bracket have also lost or split with (Goodhart), so we feel we're right in it with anybody there. It's where Cary's head is that will count the most."

The other entry at 285 is JB's Devin Reed (18-7).

Gordon said, "I think Devin is in the better side of the bracket, so I'm optimistic. He's been wrestling the coaches all week and we've pushed him."

Two Chambersburg freshmen qualified - Garrett Kyner (28-12) at 120 and Colin Runshaw (25-12) at 106. Both have tough assignments in the prelim round. Kyner faces Nick Ward of Central Dauphin (17-7) and Runshaw takes on Devin Schnupp of Warwick (36-2), who has beaten Runshaw this year.

For Greencastle, Wyatt Binkley (23-5) also meets a familiar opponent in his opener at 106 - he lost to Evan Bogdan of Palmyra (28-6) in an early tournament by one point.

"Wyatt is greatly improved and we think he can turn the tables on him this time," Yelton said. "We think he has an excellent chance to advance."

Shippensburg has a pair of juniors making their first appearance in districts, Chris Williams (28-6) at 170 and Dylan Herb (24-65) at 195. Both appear to have winnable matches in the first round, followed by a difficult draw.

"Based on the pairings, I think both Dylan and Chris will be confident in their first matches," Yaniello said. "But it is a double-elimination tournament, so after a tough loss, you're only as good as your next match."

They can expect plenty of tough matches this weekend.

NOTES: Class AA is also holding districts at the arena this weekend, but they also have regionals next week AAA wrestling begins Friday at 3:15 and will have two rounds, plus wrestlebacks that day Semifinals are Saturday at 10:15, consolation rounds are at 10:15, 12:25 and 2, and the finals are at 6 p.m.

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Ed Gotwals can be reached at 262-4755 and egotwals@publicopinionnews.com.

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District 3 Wrestling

CLASS AAA

Local Pairings

106 - Wyatt Binkley, Greencastle-Antrim (so., 23-5) vs. Evan Bogdan, Palmyra (jr., 28-6); winner vs. winner of Brett Kulp, Exeter (fr., 28-11) vs. Brandon Rodriguez, Dover (fr., 19-9)

106 - Colin Runshaw, Chambersburg (fr., 25-12) vs. Devin Schnupp, Warwick (fr., 36-2); winner vs. winner of Dylan Chatterton, Central York (fr., 24-1) vs. Myles Taylor, Milton Hershey (fr., 11-6)

113 - Tanner Shoap, Chambersburg (sr., 34-7) vs. Aidyn Miller, Hempfield (fr., 26-13); winner vs. winner of Alex Klucker, East Pennsboro (so., 20-11) vs. Connor Moyer, Wilson (jr., 29-15)

113 - Cody Carbaugh, Greencastle-Antrim (sr., 27-3) vs. Lake Laughman, New Oxford (jr., 24-8); winner vs. winner of Austin Camacci, Central Dauphin (sr., 29-8) vs. Tristan Watts, Exeter (jr., 25-11)

113 - Hunter Faith, James Buchanan (so., 25-6) vs. Josh Charles, Warwick (jr., 35-5); winner vs. winner of Derek Wilson, South Western (fr., 23-7) vs. Michal Duncan, Harrisburg (sr., 15-11)

120 - Garrett Kyner, Chambersburg (fr., 28-12) vs. Nick Ward, Central Dauphin (jr., 17-7); winner vs. winner of Sam Butler, Central York (jr., 29-5) vs. Jonah Fisher, Gov. Mifflin (so., 29-7)

126 - David Rump, Chambersburg (so., 25-11) vs. Scott Baker, Exeter (jr., 22-14); winner vs. winner of Cortlandt Schuyler, Manheim Twp. (jr., 37-4) vs. Todd Houser, Middletown (jr., 13-13)

152 - Garett Hammond, Chambersburg (sr., 40-5) vs. Austin King, Manheim Central (sr., 18-10); winner vs. winner of Tanner Druck, Dallastown (sr., 29-5) vs. Arthur Watkins, Susquehanna Twp. (jr., 11-6)

170 - Chris Williams, Shippensburg (jr., 28-6) vs. Andrew Woltman, Hershey (sr., 26-7); winner vs. winner of Ben Swarr, Garden Spot (jr., 32-2) vs. Jonathan Gross, Spring Grove (sr., 34-8)

195 - Dontez King, Chambersburg (sr., 26-10) vs. Lemir Isom, Harrisburg (sr., 12-3); winner vs. winner of Charlie Hoffman, New Oxford (jr., 17-6) vs. Jeff Pickel, Lampeter-Strasburg (sr., 31-1)

195 - Dylan Herb, Shippensburg (jr., 24-5) vs. Ziare Lawrence, Dallastown (sr., 21-11); winner vs. winner of Jan Johnson, Gov. Mifflin (so., 34-2) vs. Travis Morrill, Lower Dauphin (sr., 21-11)

285 - Cary Hess, Shippensburg (sr., 26-2) vs. Brock Hartman, New Oxford (fr., 17-13); winner vs. winner of Jamison Barker, Palmyra (sr., 15-12) vs. Bo Spiller, Solanco (so., 26-6)

285 - Devin Reed, James Buchanan (jr., 18-7) vs. Sampson Hartman, WIlson (sr., 23-15); winner vs. winner of Joey Goodhart, Hempfield (jr., 32-3) vs. Tymere Eaton, Milton Hershey (jr., 11-6)