Hershey's Giant Center to become mecca for wrestling
Yeah, we know it's not even the end of the calendar year yet, but it's never too early to talk about the wrestling postseason, is it?
We didn't think so.
So we'll begin this first edition of our weekly wrestling notebook - Drilling Down - with some dates to know.
The thing you need to know is that Giant Center will be the mecca of wrestling, not only for PIAA championships, but for District 3, too. The Old Barn (Hersheypark Arena) and all of its memories are now a thing of the past (we will miss the Bricker's french fries, but not the cramped, ill-equipped press row).
The District 3 individual tournament is now a three-day affair - all at Giant Center - with Class 3A starting at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23. Class 2A starts on Friday morning at 10 a.m., then Friday evening around 5:30 will be semifinals for both classes. The championships and consolations begin around 10 a.m. Saturday.
Of course, Giant Center also hosts the PIAA Championships on March 9-11.
The individual tournaments begin with sectionals on Feb. 18. Chambersburg, Shippensburg, Greencastle-Antrim and Waynesboro will again be in the 3A field at Mechanicsburg, while James Buchanan has dropped back to 2A.
The district team championship brackets are announced on Jan. 29 and the first round is Jan. 31 at the four highest-seeded teams. The semifinals are at Spring Grove on Feb. 2 and the finals are at Milton Hershey on Feb. 4.
PIAA team championships are Feb. 6 (first round) and Feb. 9-11 at Giant Center.
CONTROVERSY AVERTED ... FOR NOW: A highly-anticipated dual meet near Johnstown was postponed Thursday because of bad weather. It delayed what could be a very interesting match between Westmont Hilltop and Bishop McCort.
A story by Eric Knopsnyder in the Tribune-Democrat revealed that had the match taken place, there was a good possibility that Westmont may have sent out a female to wrestler in as many bouts as possible. Since McCort is a Catholic school, and under a policy drawn up in 2014 by the church says no boys can wrestle against a female, that could have meant a bunch of forfeit victories for Westmont.
This is the first year McCort has a wrestling team, but several of the Crimson Crushers did wrestle last year - for Westmont in a co-op program. So their was some tension to start with. And the schools are already rivals.
But it got more intense when McCort brought in several wrestlers from other schools in the area. It was believed that Westmont was trying to make a statement about "recruiting." At the beginning of the season, there were no girls on the Hilltoppers' roster, but by last week, there were 12 listed.
QUOTABLE: Chambersburg girls track & field coach Chris Monheim, to Trojan mat coach Matt Mentzer, after he sent his wrestlers out to run a series of steps in Trojan Stadium: "This looks more like a track practice than wrestling."
RANKED ROOKIES: The website Pa. Power Wrestling annually puts out a comprehensive list of the top freshmen in Pennsylvania wrestling. This year, two locals were near the top.
Chambersburg 160-pounder Luke Nichter was listed at No. 12. So far, he's compiled a 5-3 record against pretty good competition.
Aurelius Dunbar of Greencastle was the No. 5 choice. He has begun is prep career at Mercersburg Academy. Dunbar won a title at the Holloway Invitational in his first event at 145.