HERSHEY >> Nate Newberry benefits from a luxury that not many wrestlers have in practice.
Rather than doing most of drilling with another high school wrestler, the Biglerville junior's usual practice partner is a former NCAA Division I wrestler and his current coach. Nate Becker, the Canners' second-year coach, was a two-time state qualifier for Hanover in the mid-90s before wrestling at George Mason.
Newberry and Becker are right around the same size, so the coach often works out with the newly-annointed District 3 Class AA 145-pound champion, whose 5-1 win in Saturday's championship match over AJ Kostyak of Boiling Springs was also the 100th victory of Newberry's career.
"It's great having a coach as a practice partner," Newberry said. "He scouts really well and I lift with him too."
Newberry also has the luxury of practicing with fellow junior Scott Cooper, who placed second one weight class down at 138 pounds.
After taking fourth at last year's District 3 championships, Newberry said the confidence that comes practicing with Becker and Cooper is the biggest difference between this year and last year. Newberry is now 31-2 this season, and hasn't lost in more than a month.
"We're in his ear telling him (how good he is), and we're not lying to him, everything we're telling him is legitimate," Becker said. "He's that good, and if the switch goes on and he allows it to happen, he's a tough kid."
Becker points to last month's New Oxford Wrestling Invitational, where Newberry won the 152-pound title, as the first time he really saw everything click.
"Throughout his career, there's been a lot of times where he was second and third, even growing up at tournaments, but that got him over the hump and I think made him realize where he could be and I think its starting to snowball in a good way," Becker said.
Newberry continues his season at next week's regional meet, where he can earn his spot in the state tournament. Cooper, Brady Mentzer (third place at 132 pounds) and Nate Mentzer (fifth at 220) will also compete at that meet for Biglerville.
FOUR BERMUDIAN SPRINGS WRESTLERS WIN DISTRICT TITLES >> Briton Shelton (170 pounds), Colton Dull (182), Sam McCollum (220) and Brady Linebaugh (285) all came into the District 3 championships as the favorites to win their weight classes, and all four lived up to those expectations on Saturday.
There was very little drama surrounding Shelton, Dull and McCollum's titles, but Linebaugh's semifinal and final matches packed enough drama for all four of them.
Linebaugh won his semifinal match by scoring an escape five seconds into an ultimate tiebreaker, but Brandywine Heights fans and coaches were already furious that the match was still going at that point. In the previous overtime period, Linebaugh was awarded a penalty point after referees called Collin Conrad for locking his hands with a few seconds to go. The debate over that call raged for several minutes after Linebaugh was declared the winner by a 3-2 decision.
In the final, Linebaugh found himself in another battle as he fended off Wyomissing's Robert Dunbar for another 3-2 decision.
"The fact that Brady came out and won after me, since day one we've been talking about drilling every day and becoming district champs, we want to be district champs, that was our goal as partners," said McCollum, who remained undefeated with his championship at 220 pounds. "The fact that we both won makes this gold medal mean a lot more."
BARSHINGER STAYS UNDEFEATED >> Eastern York's Lucas Barshinger pushed his record to 28-0 by winning the district championship at 195 pounds.
After a hard-fought 1-0 win on Friday, Barshinger made quick work of Brandywine Heights' Cole Swackhammer in the semifinal, pinning Swackhammer in 27 seconds. He followed that up by jumping out to a 5-1 lead against Schuylkill Valley's Jonathan Tindall in the finals and holding on for a 5-3 win.
"Going six minutes definitely takes a toll on you throughout the day, you sit around after getting a lot of anxiety, so that quick pin really helped me out," Barshinger said.
He said that having an undefeated record this late in the season isn't changing the way he thinks or prepares.
"We do as much as we can to relieve that, we take each match on its own," Eastern York coach Dan Garner said. "We don't focus on the zero on his record, we just focus on his next opponent and who we're going after."
GARLAND DROPS CONTROVERSIAL SEMIFINAL, RALLIES FOR THIRD >> After falling behind 4-1 after two periods in his semifinal match, Hanover's Caleb Garland rallied to tie the match with an escape and a takedown in the final period. It appeared the match was headed for overtime until referees gave Trinity's Andrew Wert an escape with 11 seconds left, when the two still looked to be locked and heading out of bounds.
Hanover coach Kurt Brenner continued discussing the call with the referees following the match.
"It was just a judgement call that went the wrong way this time and I just wanted clarification on what the referee saw. They felt he lost control," Brenner said. "Of course I disagreed, but I might be a little bit biased on that."
Garland bounced back with two straight wins to earn third place.
"It says something about the kid whenever he comes back and wins two hard-faught matches to finish off third. We're happy with that," Brenner said. "We wanted to win the district title, but we're looking at the state title in two weeks and this is just one of the stops along the way.
"Not that Caleb needs it any more, but it does keep him hungry and it will keep him working. I don't want to call it a good thing, but sometimes it's not a bad thing."
20 YAIAA WRESTLERS QUALIFY FOR REGIONALS >> Out of the 26 YAIAA wrestlers who made it to the medal round, 20 placed in the top five and earned spots at regionals. Here's the list of all the YAIAA medalists, broken up by place:
First: Nate Newberry (Biglerville, 145), Briton Shelton (Bermudian Springs, 170), Colton Dull (Bermudian Springs, 182), Lucas Barshinger (Eastern York, 195), Sam McCollum (Bermudian Springs, 220), Brady Linebaugh (Bermudian Springs, 285).
Second: Scott Cooper (Biglerville, 138)
Third: Caleb Garland (Hanover, 120), Brady Mentzer (Biglerville, 132), Brian Shermeyer (Delone Catholic, 145), Dakota Mackley (Eastern York, 152), Matt Guilday (Littlestown, 195)
Fourth: Antonio Ugarte (Delone Catholic, 126)
Fifth: Austin Clabaugh (Bermudian Springs, 120), Cory Becker (Littlestown, 126), Jarod Miller (Bermudian Springs, 132), Noah Fleshman (Bermudian Springs, 160), Jordan Matthews (Littlestown, 152), Nate Mentzer (Biglerville, 220), Zach MacLeod (Littlestown, 285)
Sixth: Ben Hurda (Biglerville, 160), Brock Asper (Biglerville, 152), Brandon Mullican (Littlestown, 132), Bryce Perkins (Delone Catholic, 285), Michael Rider (Delone Catholic, 220), Connor Geiman (Littlestown, 182)