Shippensburg's run in the District 3 Class 3A Team Championships came to an end Thursday, but it certainly was fun while it lasted.
The Greyhounds, an 11th seed, beat two higher-seeded teams on Tuesday in the first round (Dallastown, No. 6) and Spring Grove (No. 3), but on Thursday lost 38-23 to Exeter Twp. in the semifinals and Cumberland Valley (52-15) in the consolations to miss a PIAA berth by one win.
Ship coach Tony Yaniello said, "We have some guys who can beat just about anybody, and if we get the right matchups with the other guys, we can beat a lot of teams."
Tuesday, the Hounds got those good matchups, and wrestlers like John Adams and Philip Torres came through with huge wins in clutch situations.
Thursday, Exeter had a few too many better-than-average wrestlers in its lineup and CV's lineup simply was too much for Shippensburg. But in the Hounds' first-ever appearance in the team tourney, it was a great ride.
ON THE WAY UP: Mercersburg Academy is on its way to having its best dual meet season for several years. The Blue Storm are 8-4 going into the Mid-Atlantic Prep League tournament today at Hill School.
The only real change in the lineup is freshman Aurelius Dunbar of Greencastle, and he is a nice addition.
But the biggest factor has been the steady improvement of a group of wrestlers who started out with not much experience over the last two years.
Mercersburg coach Nate Jacklin, "We were able to do some training last spring in freestyle and Greco, and some of the kids went to camps over the summer. You can tell that it really helped."
Dunbar's only two losses this season were to John Pipa of Bishop McDevitt in the quarterfinals of the Escape the Rock Tournament, and in the consolations to Tucker Brough of Big Spring.
"In both of those matches, Aurelius was winning," Jacklin said. "Both times he held on to a move too long and got pinned. He took Pipa (ranked No. 1 in PA in AA) down twice. If he can just clean up a few things, he'll be in really good shape."
Jacklin believes Dunbar has a chance to place in high in the National Prep championships in the 145 pound weight class.
SPLIT UP: For several years, all of the Franklin County wrestling teams have competed in Section I at Mechanicsburg to begin the postseason individual journey.
That's not the case this year.
James Buchanan has dropped to Class AA and will be in the eight-team Section III at Susquenita. Waynesboro was moved to Section IV at South Western. That leaves Chambersburg, Shippensburg and Greencastle-Antrim at Mechanicsburg in what is now Section III.
That section became tougher with the addition of Cedar Cliff and Red Land.
Sectionals are Feb. 18.