Rockets, Mustangs rekindle wrestling rivalry
Zach Miller will never forget when Spring Grove and South Western hit the mats in late January. It was his top memory from the 2015-16 high school sports year.
At the end of each season, members of the South Western wrestling team ask themselves one question before determining how successful the campaign was.
Did we beat Spring Grove?
If the answer is yes, the Mustangs feel they've accomplished their biggest goal. But when the answer is no, they always feel like something is missing.
No matter how many other dual meets they've won.
"That match is pretty much the whole season," South Western head coach Nate Murren said. "If we don’t win that match, that’s kind of how the season’s remembered. It's pretty much it for (our wrestlers)."
Last season, the dual meet was it for South Western in terms of winning YAIAA Division I. With the title on the line, the Mustangs fell to the Rockets, 31-24, after leading by 21 early in the match. Since then, that result has lingered with the Mustangs.
On Thursday, they'll have a chance at redemption. South Western will host Spring Grove at 7:30 p.m. in an annual dual meet considered by many to be the best wrestling rivalry in York County.
"Every year it's a battle," Spring Grove senior 220-pounder Nate Young said. "I expect it to be heated. South Western and Spring Grove is usually the most packed match in the county.”
Added South Western senior 126-pounder Chase Mowery: "All the students, that’s the match they come out for. It’s just a big rivalry and everyone gets loud. (The environment) definitely helps everyone wrestle better and makes the match closer."
Aside from the atmosphere, the meet is nearly always competitive. The meet has been decided by 14 points or fewer in each of the last five years, with Spring Grove winning three times and South Western twice. The two teams have also combined to win at least a share of the past nine Division I titles.
Both the Rockets and the Mustangs expect Thursday's match to be tight once again. While Spring Grove (11-2, 3-0) enters as the clear favorite, South Western (7-4, 3-1) is coming off an impressive dual meet win against Dallastown on Tuesday and has the advantage of being at home.
"Our guys always believe," Murren said. "Obviously this match is crazy with the fans and the atmosphere and everything else like that. Anything can happen in this match.”
Thursday's match also features some of the top wrestlers in District 3. Spring Grove has six wrestlers (Dalton Rohrbaugh, Chase Bricker, Jake Myer, Anthony Hinson, Jared Barley, Young) ranked in the top 10 at their respective weights in Class 3A, while South Western has two (Mowery, Tom Aumen). One potential match to watch is 220 pounds, where Young and Aumen should face each other, unless one bumps up to heavyweight.
Regardless of the individual matchups, wrestlers on both sides will go into the meet looking to help their team in any way. That will mean avoiding a pin for some or fighting for bonus points for others.
With the team District 3 championships set to begin in less than a month and the Division I title yet to be decided, this rivalry match will again have high stakes.
"We’re at the point where everyone is looking ahead to where you’re going to be seeded, you’re looking at winning the county, that stuff all comes into play," Spring Grove coach Tony Miller said. "Doesn’t matter what sport, South Western vs. Spring Grove is always a great event. I’m sure Thursday night will be worth your money.”