Media Day: Trojan Wars set to be bigger and better
Although official high school wrestling practice doesn't begin until Friday, some hype has already begun to build for a big event in the area.
The third installment of the Trojan Wars Tournament - this year slated to be held Dec. 29-30 at CASHS Field House - is up to 26 teams and the caliber of entries has improved greatly.
That was just one nugget of information gleaned Wednesday at the Mid Penn Conference wrestling media day, attended by Chambersburg and Shippensburg.
The Trojans Wars event has four more teams entered this year. All of the local teams except for Waynesboro - host Chambersburg, Shippensburg, James Buchanan and Greencastle-Antrim - are in, as are newcomers Cumberland Valley, Boiling Springs, Big Spring and Exeter Township, and Bishop McDevitt returns.
"We are really excited about that," Trojan coach Matt Mentzer said. "We've tried to make it better each year and we definitely did this year."
BETTER VENUE: District 3 has made some changes to its individual tournament, moving the event across several parking lots from the Hersheypark Arena to Giant Center. There's no question the move will be welcomed by everybody, from the wrestlers and coaches, to the fans, and yes, even the media.
Chambersburg senior 138-pounder Aaron Rump said, "That's a good move. I didn't like the other arena - it was cold and hard to get warmed up in."
It will also be an advantage to District 3 wrestlers who qualify for the PIAA Championships, which be held two weeks later at the same site.
Shippensburg senior 220-pounder Cameron Tinner said, "Moving districts is a big deal, and it can be an advantage for our district. I know I was shell-shocked at states last year (in his first competition at Giant Center). It'll help big time."
"I'm excited about that and I think it will be an advantage for us," Trojan senior 182-pounder Drew Peck said. "My sophomore year when I was in states for the first time, being at Giant Center made me more nervous."
SEASONED TEAM: Shippensburg coach Tony Yaniello is looking forward to the season, and why not? Tinner was undefeated until the quarterfinals of the state tournament, and Chandler Olson is back to try for his fourth PIAA medal.
In addition, junior Cole Forrester is planning to join his teammates at the state tournament, and Yaniello said he has a few young wrestlers who should do well in their first season.
"It's nice to have your underclassmen get the kind of experiences those guys did last year," Yaniello said. "All three are back at the same weight, but they're bigger and stronger. Heck, Cameron wrestled at 209 last year at states."
Olson's plan to go from fourth place to a state title involves having the right attitude.
"It comes back to the intensity you put into all of your practices and matches," he said. "I'm trying for a new level."
Tinner will have to transition from football to wrestling when the season ends - the Hounds are playing in the District 3 Class 4A semifinals Friday.
"It's mostly mental," he said. "You have to get back into the routine of a different sport. In football you react, while in wrestling you have to push the pace. It takes about a week to switch over."
Forrester (195) is Tinner's workout partner and watching his friend do so well last year has inspired him.
"Last year I fell a little short (of qualifying for states) - my head wasn't in it," he said. "But I want to get there this year and would love to place."
RARING TO GO: Mentzer thinks Chambersburg could be on the brink of a great season. The Trojans lost only three starters, and welcome in a few new names that are expected to do quite well in their debut seasons.
"I'm really excited about our lineup," he said. "We have a good core group of about 10-11 kids who can wrestle against anybody. They know the sport and have committed year-round to the program. They are ready to go."
Chambersburg will face its usual strong schedule, with its own event, The Beast of the East and the Escape the Rock tournaments, and dual tourneys at Wilson and Warwick. The Trojans had to drop the Carlisle tournament because it's the same weekend as the Beast.
Mentzer said, "We lost CD East (moved to the Keystone Division), but we were able to pick up Waynesboro on our schedule."
Peck, who placed fourth at states last year despite a knee injury, is healthy and showed he is already in good form with a third at the Super 32 Tournament this fall.
Rump, who started his career at 106, is up to 138 for his senior season.
"You have to adjust to be more physical," Rump said. "You have to have different aspects to your style, like you have to be better at hand fighting and do a lot of moving on your feet."
Another Trojan senior, Dalton Grace, is looking forward to his battles with Ship's Forrester, as well as Blake Barrick of Big Spring, at 195.
"I think we're all three right there," Grace said. "It will be great competition and it will be interesting."