Five takeaways from 2015-16 wrestling season
There will be a lot of intense wrestling coming up in the next six weeks. Two rivalry dual meets will decide YAIAA division titles this week. The District 3 team tournament begins next week, and the individual postseason will start Feb. 20.
But that's not to say there hasn't been plenty of quality wrestling in the past two months. As the regular season nears a close, here's a look at five takeaways from the 2015-16 wrestling season:
1. Freshmen contenders: Some YAIAA freshmen could make serious noise this postseason.
Central York's freshman heavyweight, Michael Wolfgram, grabbed attention with some of his performances this season. He most notably defeated New Oxford's Brock Hartman last week and took Red Lion's Jared Schell to the brink in a 5-4 loss the week before. He looks like a serious contender to make a Class AAA postseason run, but he isn't the only freshman contender.
Spring Grove 106-pounder Clay Baker has also ripped through his slate of matches, including winning the U.S. Air Force Indian Classic title in Kingsport, Tenn., last month. It seems his work with practice partner Dalton Rohrbaugh — a AAA state qualifer last season — could help him reach Hershey as well.
On the Class AA side, Littlestown's Corbin Brown (126) and Carl Harris (145) have both impressed.
2. Spring Grove's title aspirations: The Rockets have a shot at making the state team tournament.
The Rockets have yet to lose a dual meet to a District 3 opponent and are currently ranked No. 6 in the Class AAA team rankings.
The Rockets boast a very complete lineup. Baker and Rohrbaugh dominate in lightweight action. State qualifier Marcus Kehr holds down the 160-pound division, and the Rockets' heavier weight classes have scored bonus points against YAIAA Division I opponents.
The top four teams in next week's district team tournament advance to states, and Spring Grove figures to have as good a shot as any league team to make it. The No. 2-ranked team in District 3, Solanco, did not wrestle enough dual meets to be eligible for the tournament. So that's one less team in the Rockets' way.
3. South Western's power: The Mustangs have a solid team as well. Their strength comes from a talented group in the 120- through 152-pound weight classes. It's a group of wrestlers South Western's 113-pounder Adam Leib coined "Death Row" after last week's win against Dallastown.
Chase Mowery (120 pounds), Derek Wilson (126), Gavin Smith (132), Owen Wherley (138) and Gage Thomas (152) have all scored major bonus points for the Mustangs this season. Each should have a chance to make noise once the individual postseason starts in late February. Smith and Wherley both made it to states last season, with Wilson earning a medal.
4. Disregard the team record: Littlestown (7-12, 2-2 Division III) has a solid team.
The Thunderbolts only have nine wrestlers, so they're forced to forfeit matches and surrender team points in dual meets. But they're keeping some dual meets remarkably close considering the numbers shortage, and they should score a lot of points at the sectional meet.
It's not out of the question that seven or eight Littlestown wrestlers could make districts, and a few could go further. Connor Geiman (182), Matt Guilday (220) and Cory Becker (138) all look like wrestlers who could make a run to the Class AA state tournament.
5. A loaded weight class: Fans are sometimes robbed of great individual matchups during dual meets when coaches maneuver their lineups and bump wrestlers to different weight classes to score points, but a couple of the most competitive individual bouts that we've had a chance to see this year have come from Class AA wrestlers at 152 pounds.
Bermudian Springs' Ashton West edged Delone Catholic's Brian Shermeyer, 2-1, in their dual meet two weeks ago, and Shermeyer beat Biglerville's Scott Cooper, 2-0, last week. West bumped up against Biglerville to face Nate Newberry, but will likely run into Cooper at some point.
It's possible we could see all these wrestlers go at it in sectionals, districts, regionals and states, making for some great local drama in February and March.
Duals to watch this week
Jan. 27, South Western at Spring Grove: The Rockets look to dethrone the Mustangs as YAIAA Division I champions in this rivalry matchup.
Jan. 28, Bermudian Springs at Biglerville: In another big rivalry match, the Eagles and Canners will duke it out for first place in YAIAA Division III.
Jan. 30, Bermudian Springs at Boiling Springs: Continuing with the rivalry theme, the Eagles and Bubblers will battle for bragging rights in a possible district preview.