A few years ago, Central Dauphin High wrestling coach Jeff Sweigard kept hearing how good the Spring Grove middle school wrestling team was, leading him to think the high school team would be as well. He realized his premonition was right when his team scrimmaged the Rockets early this season.
"When I was on the bus on the way home," Sweigard said, "I said, 'They're going to make the playoffs and they're going to make some noise.'"
The Rockets fared well Thursday night but still lost, 33-26, in its District 3 Class AAA team tournament semifinal against the Rams at Central Dauphin.
The seven-point deficit was the closest any team has come to beating the Rams (20-0) this season. Cumberland Valley lost by 12, 36-24, earlier this month before being thumped 44-16 in a district quarterfinal.
But don't consider this a moral victory for the Rockets.
"It's not for our seniors," Rockets coach Tony Miller said. "You think about tonight, and it's going to hurt."
The Rockets (22-1) entered the 195-pound bout, the third-to-last match after starting at 106 pounds, trailing 30-14. Rockets senior Andy Melhorn built a 6-5 lead over the Rams' Detrick Ferster with the final seconds ticking away.
Knowing he needed a pin to help his team win, Melhorn began being more aggressive. That led to Ferster's takedown as time expired to take the 7-5 decision the sealed the win.
"He knew what he had to do," Miller said. "He knew a decision did nothing for his team. That's the character of that kid. He could win for himself, but it would do nothing for the outcome of that match."
Ferster, who has been pinned just once this season, was on his back about three times but escaped each time.
"If he gets on his back, he's like a cat," Sweigard said. "That scares the crap out of me. He's so strong and powerful that you better clamp him. He's got good hips for a second-year kid."
Rockets 220-pounder Alex Guinn and heavyweight Mike Lentz received forfeits to end the bout, making the final margin somewhat deceiving.
The Rams face Chambersburg (17-3), which beat Wilson, 30-29, in the other district semifinal, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Milton Hershey in an attempt to win their sixth consecutive district title. The Rockets face Wilson (14-6) at the same time and location.
"We're going to move forward and tell the kids the true measure is how do you respond," Miller said. "We're not going to let one team stop our season. It's tough to be unbeaten."
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106 -- Zach Elvin, CD, dec. Levi Witmer, 3-0; 113 -- Derek Carlisle, SG, dec. Austin Camacci, 4-3; 120 -- Zach Clingan, SG, tech. fall Koltyn Eason, 3:40 (15-0); 126 -- Nick Ward, CD, dec. Alec Zorbaugh, 4-2; 132 -- Dakota Laughman, SG, dec. Zach Bentz, 6-2; 138 -- Michael Hartman, SG, dec. Mitchell Pleskenko, 2-1; 145 -- Tyson Dippery, CD, dec. Mason Bentzel, 4-1; 152 -- Austin Rose, CD, pinned Tyler Miller, 2:42; 160 -- Garrett Peppelman, CD, tech. fall Austin Barley, 5:11 (22-7); 170 -- Colton Peppelman, CD, pinned Max Copenheaver, 1:17; 182 -- Terrance Parsons, CD, maj. decision John Gross, 10-0; 195 -- Detrick Ferster, CD, dec. Andy Melhorn, 7-6; 220 -- Alex Guinn, SG, won by forfeit; 285 -- Mike Lentz, SG, won by forfeit.