Anxious moments come in all forms in the annual meat grinder known as the District 3 Class AAA wrestling championships.
A late takedown allows a career to continue for two more weeks. Another one ends with the referee's whistle and a slap of the mat for a fall.
Two of the YAIAA's best wrestlers — Dallastown's Rodney Sunday and Kennard-Dale's Chance Marsteller — experienced moments no wrestler ever wants to encounter, especially when comfortably leading in championship bouts as they were doing Saturday evening in Hersheypark Arena.
Fortunately, each situation resolved itself in favor of the league standouts, who claimed district gold medals along with Spring Grove's Zack Clingan.
Michael Bracey of Kennard-Dale and Mason Bentzel of Spring Grove each came home with silver medals.
Finishing third and joining the five finalists in the PIAA championships at Giant Center were New Oxford's Zurich Storm (103), Central York's Dylan Chatterton (113), South Western's Owen Wherley (120) and Spring Grove's Mike Hartman (145).
South Western's Derek Wilson (113) and Dallastown's Wes Hoover (138) placed fourth, also earning the coveted state tournament spots.
In the 126-pound final, Sunday thoroughly dominated surprise finalist Tristan Watts of Exeter. Sunday registered his seventh takedown to build a 12-point lead with 11 seconds remaining in the bout.
When the Eagles senior stood up, Sunday picked him up and took him hard to the mat. The referee called a slam and gave a penalty point to Watts with just six seconds left. Had he not been able to continue, he would have been awarded the victory.
However, Watts used about two minutes of recovery time before finishing out the match, a 17-7 victory for Sunday (32-3).
The Wildcat senior disagreed with the call but praised Watts for not taking a dive.
"(The slam call) didn't phase me. I knew what I did, it wasn't a slam but the ref said it was," he said. "(Watts)'s a great sport for doing that. It took a lot of guts. With six seconds in the match he could have easily stopped, and he would have won."
Marsteller became the 11th four-time District 3 Class AAA champion with a 16-5 major decision against Cody Seibert of Big Spring but was forced to take injury time.
With Seibert on top, the Ram wrestler started making a move to get out but was stopped dead in his tracks with obvious pain. After the injury time, he finished out the match lying on the mat, giving up the first stalling points of his career.
"(The back) hurts bad but at least I was able to come out and wrestle," said Marsteller, still unbeaten for his career. "I probably won't practice till Wednesday and try to figure out what's really wrong."
Marsteller's teammate Bracey lost a tough 5-4 decision to Central Dauphin's TyShawn White in the 113-pound bout when White was able to record his lone takedown of the match with nine seconds left in the final period.
"It was a close call. It can go both ways," said the sophomore of the takedown. "It's not really set in yet that (I'm in states)."
This is the first time in school history that two Ram wrestlers will be in the state tournament together.