With the release of the final District 3 Wrestling Power Rankings and brackets, it's time to move beyond the regular season and into the postseason.
Before we move on though, I believe it's necessary to send out congratulations to our YAIAA Champions in South Western (Div. I), Kennard-Dale (Div. II) and Bermudian Springs (Div. III). South Western's title was their first out-right since 1997 and their fifth overall. Bermudian Springs has won nine in their last 10 years.
The Rams, however, are in uncharted waters as they won their first YAIAA wrestling title in school history. That, after graduating arguably the greatest wrestler in PIAA history.
All three of these teams as well as Red Lion, Spring Grove, Delone Catholic and Biglerville will compete in the District 3 Team Championships starting this week with AAA on Tuesday and AA on Wednesday.
The seven teams are tied for the second most ever, the most being eight coming when the AA bracket still sent 16 teams instead of the eight they do now.
But enough about the past, let's focus on the present and dive right into the brackets with full analysis of each pod and predictions. The first two rounds are set for Tuesday night at Cumberland Valley, South Western, Governor Mifflin and Central Dauphin.
Class AAA: Chambersburg, Milton Hershey and Kennard-Dale at Cumberland Valley
Cumberland Valley ended the season as the top seed in AAA and will open the postseason as the favorite to win the district title. The Eagles will face Chambersburg, the 16th seed. In the other first round match at Cumberland Valley, Kennard-Dale, the No. 9 seed will face No. 8 Milton Hershey.
Analysis: Cumberland Valley is not only one of the best, if not the best, team in District 3, but is among the best in PIAA. The Eagles are also ranked 47th in the nation by InterMat Wrestle. Cumberland Valley is led by nationally ranked senior Patrick Duggan. Chambersburg has some solid wrestlers, led by Drew Peck, David Rump, Garrett Kyner and Aaron Rump. Kennard-Dale has had a great season, the best in school history, and will be led by a pair of lightweights in Andrew Barnett and Mike Bracey. Milton Hershey, meanwhile, is led by Spencer Gallitz and Christopher Santana.
Predictions: Kennard-Dale will push Milton Hershey, but will fall short while Cumberland Valley takes care of Chambersburg with relative ease. The Eagles move on with a thoroughly dominating victory against the Spartans.
Class AAA: Cedar Cliff, Spring Grove and Red Land at Central Dauphin
Central Dauphin will have the tournament's No. 2 seed and will face No. 15 Red Land in the opening bout. No. 10 Spring Grove will face No. 7 Cedar Cliff in the other first-round matchup.
Analysis: Central Dauphin is good, but not as good as a few of their mid-2000s teams, which won 95 consecutive matches. The Rams have some studs, led by Zach Elvin and Tyshawn White. Red Land is led by Kiernan Kelly and Dylan Gettys. The Rockets are riding a solid YAIAA season despite being gutted by graduation. They are led by Marcus Kehr, Levi Witmer and Dalton Rohrbaugh. Cedar Cliff could be the most intriguing team in this field with Josh Colello and Luis Tirado leading the way.
In an interesting note, Cedar Cliff and Spring Grove lost to Red Lion by a combined three points this season, which shows how even this matchup is.
Predictions: Host Central Dauphin dispatches of the Patriots with ease while the Rockets edge the Colts. The Rams downs Spring Grove to advance to the semifinals.
Class AAA: Conestoga Valley, Red Lion, Penn Manor at Governor Mifflin
Moving on to Berks County, the No. 3 seed Governor Mifflin Mustangs will face Lancaster-Lebanon League entrant and No. 14 seed Conestoga Valley. No. 11 Penn Manor will face No. 6 Red Lion in the other opening-round matchup. These matches will be held at Governor Mifflin's intermediate school.
Analysis: This group of four will be the most competitive of the four first-round and quarterfinal sites as each team features great individual talent. Governor Mifflin has one of the most talented wrestlers in the PIAA in 195-pounder Jan Johnson. Johnson won a PIAA title last year and is 31-0 this year. Teammate Keith Miller sits at 29-0 while Jonah Fisher has lost just twice this season. Conestoga Valley is led by a pair of L-L Champions in Lucas Ortiz and Vincente Maldonado. Jose Morales is solid, too. The 11th-seeded Comets just won the L-L team title and boast an extremely deep and talented roster as seven regular starters have five or fewer losses. Ashton Leschke and Jonah Barley are the the best of those. Red Lion has a very deep lineup, led by Jacob Frock and Jared Schell, forming one of the best 106-285 counter-punches in the District.
Predictions: Governor Mifflin dispatches the Buckskins by 20 points while Penn Manor edges Red Lion by 10 with a victory in the final bout to seal it. The Mustangs then take down the Comets by 15 points to move onto the semifinals.
Class AAA: Mechanicsburg, ELCO and Exeter Township at South Western
No. 4 seed South Western will face No. 13 Mechanicsburg while No. 12 ELCO will face No. 5 Exeter Township.
Analysis: The Mustangs are a talented bunch, led by sophomore Seth Janney and juniors Owen Wherley, Derek Wilson and Gage Thomas. South Western beat Mechanicsburg earlier this year, 37-27. The Wildcats are led by Tristen Skelly and Drew Tochterman. After spending the last two years in Class AA, ELCO returns to the AAA ranks and are led by Wes Bankus -- a returning PIAA qualifier in AA -- and Randy Wintersohl. Exeter has a terrific 1-2 punch in the lower weights with Austin Desanto and Brett Kulp. Both are among the best wrestlers in their weights in the district.
Predictions: South Western downs the Wildcats by 20 points while Berks County's Exeter easily dispatches ELCO. Quite possibly the trickiest quarterfinal to pick, I'll give South Western the nod in a very tight match. Lightweight matchups will be key as the Mustangs and Eagles both possess very talented wrestlers.
The Class AA quarterfinals will be at Bermudian Springs and Boiling Springs.
Class AA: Annville-Cleona, Northern Lebanon and Newport at Bermudian Springs
Top-seeded Bermudian Springs will host No. 8 Annville-Cleona while No. 4 Northern Lebanon will face No. 5 Newport in the quarterfinals.
Analysis: Bermudian Springs isn't your typical AA team, as they possess heavy-hitters throughout their lineup. It starts down at the lightweights with Bayley Oberlander -- who received two forfeits last week after injuring his shoulder against Boiling Springs. Is he ready to go? -- and Austin Clabaugh. The Eagles move into some solid depth and "role players" in the middle weights before a lineup that few teams could even dream of: Briton Shelton, Colton Dull, Sam McCollum and Brady Linebaugh. Northern Lebanon is certainly the next-best team as coach Rusty Wallace brings in a deep, experienced squad. The Vikings are led by Evan Daub, Luke Funck and Joey Emborsky. Newport is led by Dalton Klinger and Josh Bower, while Annville-Cleona is led by returning District 3 champion Jeff Inman.
Predictions: Bermudian Springs decks Annville-Cleona by 30-plus points while Northern Lebanon handles Newport by 15-plus points. In the semifinal, Bermudian Springs takes a 10-point victory in a rematch of a contest from the Northern Lebanon duals, won by the Eagles on the same afternoon Bermudian coach Dave McCollum recorded his 500th victory.
Class AA: Delone Catholic, Hamburg and Biglerville at Boiling Springs
Over in the other AA quartet at Boiling Springs, the No. 2 seed Bubblers will host YAIAA entrant No. 7 Biglerville while No. 3 Delone Catholic will face No. 6 Hamburg.
Analysis: The Bubblers, much like Bermudian Springs, are blessed in ways that most AA teams aren't. They have a returning PIAA champion in Korbin Myers, and they also have a returning PIAA runner-up in Kyle Shoop as well as studs Grant Bond and Jalin Hankerson. Biglerville has some quality talent, as well, in Nate Newberry, Nate Mentzer and Brady Mentzer. Delone Catholic is very deep and is led by Josh Sneeringer, Antonio Ugarte and Brian Shermeyer. The Hawks, meanwhile, have a very talented Sean Stanish leading the way.
Predictions: The Bubblers down the Canners by 20-plus points while Hamburg, my upset special, will down the Squires in a tight match. Boiling Springs then keeps up their momentum with a lopsided victory over Hamburg to setup a rematch with the Eagles for the District 3 title.
With the regular season in the books, here are my final YAIAA power rankings for 2014-2015.
1. Bermudian Springs (LW: 1): No change for the Eagles as they really rounded into form down the stretch. Bayley Oberlander's health will make a HUGE difference in the team aspect of the postseason.
2. South Western (LW: 2): The Mustangs come into the final rankings as a close No. 2 behind Bermudian Springs. South Western's ceiling came into focus during the final month of the season and a PIAA berth is possible for these Mustangs.
3. Red Lion (LW: 3): I said before the season the Lions would be competitive but felt they were a season or so away because of the number of underclassmen on this team. They were very good this year, but this is just a stepping stone.
4. Spring Grove (LW: 4): No change for the young Rockets. Coming into the season, they had a bunch of question marks as any team would have trying to replace three PIAA qualifiers and a handful more of district qualifiers. Expect big things from the Rockets, per usual, in the coming years.
5. Kennard-Dale (LW: 5): The Rams have had their most successful season as a team in the history of their program, and with the current YAIAA alignment it could be the start of a run.
Yeah, a boring installment of the power rankings with absolutely no change, but no team showed anything to warrant a rise or fall. Delone Catholic, Biglerville, Dallastown, West York and Littlestown round out the top 10 in that order.
What do you think of my District 3 predictions? Heading out to a match this week? Sound off below, find me on twitter @ameaseYDR or email me email@example.com
I'll be heading to Central Dauphin on Tuesday, so if you head over there, find me and say hello!