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Back in the not-too-distant past, high school wrestling teams ended their dual meet season - whether it was in district and PIAA team championships or just non-league, end of the year duals - and the following weekend started the individual postseason trail with sectionals.

Not any more.

By the time Greencastle-Antrim and James Buchanan wrestlers hear the whistles at sectionals on Feb. 18, they will have been off 23 days since their last live action. For Waynesboro, it will have been 21 days, Chambersburg will have an 18-day gap and Shippensburg's will be 16 days.

Only the elite teams that have advanced to Giant Center for the PIAA Team Championships this week will be looking at a gap of a week or so.

Is this a good or bad thing? Most coaches, now that they have been able to experience that long break, believe it has far more positives than negatives.

Greencastle-Antrim first-year coach Drew Allshouse said, "We've had a good many injuries this year, so we took it easy that first week and tried to get everybody healthy. With three weeks between, there was no reason to push it that whole time."

"I think the biggest benefit is having time to heal a little bit," Chambersburg coach Matt Mentzer said. "We were a little beat up."

Coaches will use all the extra time in different ways, depending on what they think the team needs, but it is geared toward the individuals to get them ready for the tournament grind.

Waynesboro coach Dan Craig said, "We want to keep them fresh, so we have shorter practices, but they're more intense. We back off technique this point of the season and do a lot of teaching, conditioning and live wrestling. The coaches can go around the room and help different kids."

"We go back to how we work in the preseason," Mentzer said. "We do morning conditioning (a lot of running) and for the afternoon practice we work on technique rather than a lot of live wrestling. We give them a little more rest and hit them with the things they need to work on individually."

Greencastle has a young team and won't have any high seeds at sectionals, so Allshouse's approach is different.

"With where we're at, for us it's better this time of year to take a team approach, because a lot of our kids are at the same level," he said. "We're working on a lot of basics and little things, and we're teaching them moves we've seen this year. For example, we've seen a lot of teams using the 'claw' and we've had trouble with that, so we're learning how to defend that move.

"And for our better kids, we have volunteer coaches who can work with them one-on-one."

RETURNING CHAMPIONS: Four area wrestlers will be defending sectional championships when those tournaments happen on Feb. 18.

Those wrestlers include Chambersburg's Spencer Runshaw (113) and Drew Peck (182) and Shippensburg's Chandler Olson (126) and Cameron Tinner (220). Runshaw is now up to 126 and Tinner is at 285.

NEW FACES: Waynesboro, along with the other Franklin County schools, has competed in the Section I Tournament at Mechanicsburg for many years. This season, however, the Indians have been moved to the York-area Section IV at South Western.

Craig said, "We saw South Western, Central York and West York at our dual meet tournament, and we've seen New Oxford and Gettysburg at other tournaments. It's good and bad. We'll see some fresh faces, and there won't be any previous results against a lot of the guys, so that might help the mind set."

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