6 Franklin Co. wrestlers earn berth in states
Friday began with 12 Franklin County wrestlers in the running for a PIAA state wrestling berth.
By the end of the night, six had qualified and four of them will wrestle for a District 3 Class 3A championship when the final session is held Saturday morning at 9:45 at Giant Center.
For Chambersburg, senior Drew Peck is in the 182-pound final, as is freshman Luke Nichter at 160 - both with pins in the semifinals. Shippensburg pushed through seniors Chandler Olson at 126 and Cameron Tinner at 285, each by the slimmest of margins.
The Trojans' Drake Brenize (152), a junior, and Ship's Cole Forrester (195), also a junior, will wrestle for third place Saturday, but have already fought their way into states.
Olson was stymied on his feet by Central Dauphin's Jake Cherry in his semifinal bout, and Cherry escaped in the second for a 1-0 lead heading into the third period. Olson reversed Cherry about 30 seconds in to take a 2-1 lead and he managed to ride him out for the 2-1 win.
But it got a little hairy at the end. Olson had to grab Cherry's leg in a death grip to maintain control, and Cherry even hooked Olson's leg, but the official ruled Olson still had control when the buzzer sounded.
In a matchup of defending district champions, Tinner at 220 and Blaine Yinger of Northeastern at 285, Yinger caught Tinner off-balance for a four-point throw late in the first period and held a 6-2 lead early in the second.
But Tinner gradually worked his way back, despite having to deal with a cut on his finger that required taping. A takedown made it 6-4 after two and he closed the gap to 6-5 with an escape. After just missing one takedown at the edge, Tinner got in again with the clock winding down and tackled Yinger just inbounds for the winning takedown with the time at 0:08.
"I have to give him credit for that throw," Tinner said. "I used that in our earlier match (at the Trojan Wars), and he recognized it and sunk his hips and caught me. I think I played to his style when I was tying up, so toward the end I didn't and that helped."
Peck found himself with a front headlock against Brendan Shaffer of Lower Dauphin in the semis, and he used it to flip Shaffer to his back for a pin in just 27 seconds.
"The guy I'm wrestling in the final saw that move, so maybe I shouldn't have used it," Peck joked. "But I've done that move countless times and Coach says when it's there, go for it. And I felt it was there."
The pin gives Peck 59 for his career, which increases the school record he broke (Garrett Hammond, 57) at the sectional tournament.
"I've wanted that record my whole career, after I got 16 as a sophomore," Peck said.
Nichter rolled to a 7-0 lead over Manheim Township's Jose Lao-Cooper, then stuffed him with a cradle in 3:03 for his second pin of districts.
"I was a little nervous, but I knew that I've beaten better kids than the one I was wrestling, so that helped," Nichter said. "I've been trying to push the pace because I could lose if I don't."
In the finals Saturday, Nichter (29-7) will tangle with Jonah Barley of Penn Manor (38-2), while Peck (30-4) will take on Ben Maack of Governor Mifflin (38-1).
Tinner (36-1) will have an interesting match against Michael Wolfgram of Central York (33-0), while Olson (38-1) will be up against possibly the most impressive wrestler so far in districts. Exeter Township's Austin DeSanto is 48-0 and in the district tournament has outscored his foes 65-17 and has three technical falls, none of which has gotten to the second period.
Chambersburg's Brenize couldn't get any offense going against Brayden Wills of Mechanicsburg in the semifinals and dropped a 5-0 verdict. But he came back with a solid 3-0 win over Warwick's Luke Hirtzel to qualify.
Brenize said, "I'm a little disappointed I didn't get to the final, but I'm glad I worked back to get to states. I was getting in some shots, but couldn't finish until that one in the third period."
Forrester lost his third close bout this season to Blake Barrick of Big Spring in the semis, this time, 3-1. Barrick spun behind for a takedown with one second left in the first period for the deciding points.
But Forrester then came back to beat Waynesboro's Seth Egolf in an entertaining bout for a state berth. Forrester built a lead, then had to hold off a comeback by the dangerous Egolf.
"I knew he likes upper body stuff, so I had to be smart," Forrester said, "and I got in on his legs. I'm just so glad I'm going to states because that's been a goal of mine since I started wrestling when I was 5."
Chambersburg's Cole Grove (132), and Waynesboro's Matt McCann (120) and Egolf each came within one victory of advancing. They will wrestle for fifth place on Saturday.
CLASS 2A: In Friday morning's District 3 Class 2A tournament, James Buchanan sophomore Derek Pine was eliminated with a pair of losses, 5-2 to Landon West of Bermudian Springs, and 9-2 to Ryan Berstler of Middletown.