Despite being a freshman, Luke Nichter is not sneaking up on anybody in Pennsylvania wrestling circles.
He made a name for himself in youth wrestling and is simply carrying on that success in his first year for Chambersburg. And it showed up Saturday when he captured the 160-pound title at the Class 3A Section III Tournament. For that, he has been named the Public Opinion Male Athlete of the Week.
"We had pretty high expectations for him coming in, because he'd been successful at all the age groups," Trojan coach Matt Mentzer said. "He seems to be gaining more momentum and confidence as the season goes on. There's definitely a difference in him between the Beast (of the East Tournament) and now."
Nichter would quickly agree with that assessment.
"Yeah, my confidence is way better now," he said. "Going into the Beast, I was thinking maybe I could hang with the best guys. Now that I've gotten a couple of big wins under my belt, it's a different story."
Saturday, Nichter entered as the No. 2 seed behind Cumberland Valley's Quentin Milliken, who had defeated him twice already - a close match in a dual meet and 5-1 at the Trojan Wars. This time, Nichter fell behind 3-0, but scored a takedown in the second period and a third-period escape to knot the score 3-3.
With under 40 seconds left, Milliken got in on Nichter's leg, but Nichter kept his cool, scooted under and came up on top for a takedown at 0:29, then tied Milliken up with a spladle for three back points and an 8-3 win.
"Normally if I'd get down two or three points against somebody that good, I'd feel like I'd have to hit a big move," Nichter said. "But now I know I can still win by staying with the game plan and just getting takedowns."
Mentzer said, "He's wrestled a very tough schedule and hit some of the best kids in the state and held his own. When you can beat somebody like Milliken, you get confidence in tight situations and you start to believe you can beat him again."
He'll be up against it this weekend in the District 3 Tournament at Giant Center, but he's ready.
"I love wrestling in big places like that; I think I wrestle better," Nichter said. "I've been preparing myself for the big tournaments."
Luke Nichter, Chambersburg
Weight class: 160 pounds
Parents: Brian and Jamie Nichter
Interests: In winter, Nichter says,"It's pretty much school, practice, come home and eat and go to bed."
Favorite team: Penn State wrestling
Favorite athlete: David Taylor
Statistics: In the Class 3A Section III Tournament, Nichter went 3-0 with 2 pins and an 8-3 victory over No. 1 seed Quentin Milliken of Cumberland Valley in the final ... For the season, he is 26-7 with 13 pins, a technical fall and four major decisions.