12 Franklin County wrestlers get through Section III
The main objective for wrestlers from Chambersburg, Shippensburg and Greencastle-Antrim was to get through Saturday's Class 3A Section III wrestling tournament at Mechanicsburg and advance to the District 3 Championships next week.
And 12 Franklin County wrestlers did just that, including four who came home wearing a gold medal. Six others placed third or fourth to qualify for next week.
Chambersburg's Drew Peck (182 pounds) and Luke Nichter (160), and Shippensburg's powerful duo of Chandler Olson (126) and Cameron Tinner (285) captured championships, while the Trojans' Cole Grove (132) and Aaron Rump (138) placed second.
Of the winners, Nichter, a freshman, had the most exciting finish by far.
Having already logged a pair of losses against Cumberland Valley's Quentin Milliken this season, Nichter found himself in a 3-3 tie with well under a minute left. He snapped Milliken's head down, but Milliken used the momentum to snatch Nichter's leg.
"When I snapped him, I didn't move my leg fast enough," Nichter said. "But sometimes that works out."
Trojan coach Matt Mentzer said, "Luke is great in scrambles. The first time these guys wrestled it was like that, but he was just too far behind."
And scramble Nichter did. He was able to scoot under Milliken and come up the back side and over the top to gain the go-ahead takedown with 0:29 left, then sealed the deal when he reached over and stuffed Milliken into a spladle for three back points and an 8-3 victory.
"After I got the takedown, I was thinking that it was a long time to ride him out," Nichter said. "Then I realized what was there and saw I could score with that."
Olson and Tinner had little trouble defending sectional titles from a year ago. Olson majored Cedar Cliff's Josh McLaughlin 11-2 on the strength of five takedowns, while Tinner manhandled Hunter Adams with a quick takedown and five tilts for a 15-0 technical fall in 2:32.
"I got a couple of good matches in today, and that should help get me prepared for districts," Olson said. "In the postseason you still have to wrestle one weekend at a time."
Tinner, who will hit some good competition next week, said, "At the Chambersburg tournament (at the holidays), I realized that I had some things to improve on, especially mentally. Now I feel like I'm ready to go."
Peck, in his first action back from a knee injury, led 4-0 after one period against Cedar Cliff's Emorson Wentz, then used a five-point move from his feet to jump the score to 11-0 after two. Wentz pushed Peck in the third, but the final was still 14-5.
"He was attacking, and those are the matches I like," Peck said, "because they make me work. But what I'll take from this is I have to stay on the offensive."
Mentzer said, "He had an 11-point lead at one point, then went a little conservative, but he's got a lot of experience and knew what he was doing."
In the 132 final, Chambersburg's Grove was victimized by eight takedowns by his opponent, Wyatt Long of CV. After the last, he stuck Grove in 5:55. Grove had wrestled a fabulous semifinal, hitting No. 2 seed Nick Tewell of Mechanicsburg with a 16-1 tech fall.
At 138, Rump and Northern York's Micah Hoffman battled tooth and nail for five minutes, but with 55 seconds left, Hoffman scored the match's only takedown and earned a 3-1 win.
For Chambersburg, Seth Runshaw (120) and Drake Brenize (152) each placed third.
Shippensburg got thirds from Jeffrey Russell (106) and Cole Forrester (195) and a fourth from Levi Shoemaker (160), while Ralondas Green picked up a third at 285 for Greencastle.
The Greyhounds ended up taking third place behind Cumberland Valley and Cedar Cliff in the team standings, nosing out Chambersburg by one point.
Ship coach Tony Yaniello said, "We had eight kids place (in the top six), and some kids exceeded their seeds. Our big guns came through and I think we wrestled well as a team."
Forrester was nipped 2-1 in the semifinals by Blake Barrick of Big Spring when Forrester could not get free in the second rideout.
"He got that merkle in, and I just couldn't spin out," Forrester said.