7 Franklin County wrestlers reach 3A semifinals
Nobody - probably not even Matt McCann - would have envisioned the scenario that unfolded Thursday afternoon and evening at Giant Center.
McCann, a sophomore from Waynesboro, was a fourth-place finisher at the Section III wrestling tournament. But after one round of the District 3 Tournament, McCann finds himself in the semifinals thanks to two surprising results.
He joins six other Franklin County wrestlers who won twice Thursday to move into the semifinals, which will begin Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Giant Center.
Chambersburg (Drake Brenize at 152, Luke Nichter at 160 and Drew Peck at 182) and Shippensburg (Chandler Olson at 126, Cole Forrester at 195 and Cameron Tinner at 285) each advanced three wrestlers.
The Trojans also have two alive in the consolations - Seth Runshaw at 120 and Cole Grove at 132. Shippensburg's Jeffrey Russell (106) and Seth Egolf of Waynesboro (195) are also still going in the consolation rounds.
The shocker of the day, however, did not take place on the mats. Chambersburg senior Aaron Rump, who would have been in serious contention at 138, was disqualified earlier in the day during the skin check. It was a hugely disappointing way for his excellent career to end.
McCann was not expected to beat sectional champion Michael Cassidy of Cedar Cliff in the preliminary round. But McCann hung tough, down 4-2, after two periods. In the third, McCann escaped, then took Cassidy down and eventually clamped a cradle on him for a pin in 4:58.
"It was a close match until the third period and I played it smart," McCann said. "I was able to get behind him and then got the cradle."
In the quarterfinals, McCann faced Jarod Loose of Hempfield, who came in with only one loss. But that loss was in the section finals last week when he injured a knee. Against McCann, Loose was forced to default after trying to go for one period.
McCann said, "I wanted to finish the match because I hate to win that way."
McCann (30-12) will have another big hurdle tomorrow in Zurich Storm of New Oxford (31-1).
Chambersburg's Brenize had the most dramatic win in the quarterfinals. He trailed A.J. Wilson of Solanco 3-2 with time winding down in the third period with the wrestlers on their feet. But with less than 25 seconds to go, Brenize got in deep on a single, completed the takedown and put Wilson on his back for a 6-3 win.
"I didn't want to hit it too fast, because if I got the takedown and he got out, I wanted time to score again," Brenize said. "I saw he had his lead leg way out there and I knew it would be open, so I just had to get him moving first."
Nichter finished an impressive day with a pin and a 7-0 decision over Nyiem Flucas of Hershey in the quarters.
"The key is my confidence," he said. "When I'm confident, I go out thinking nobody can beat me. In my losses I haven't felt that way."
Peck breezed through two matches at 182, scoring a 28-second pin in the opener, then piling up five takedowns on his way to a 13-3 win over Connor Brinton of Conestoga Valley.
In the semifinals, Brenize (30-8) meets Brayden Wills of Mechanicsburg (33-2); Nichter (28-7) takes on Jose Lao-Cooper of Manheim Township (24-8), and Peck (29-4) will battle Brendan Shaffer of Lower Dauphin (25-5).
Forrester had the the most impressive win for Shippensburg. The junior 195-pounder was aggressive on his feet to the tune of three takedowns in an 8-2 victory over Exeter Twp.'s Dennis Karas. That came after a pin in the first round.
"The last week, coach has been preaching to me about opening up on my feet, and I did today," Forrester said. "I have to keep moving and stay active."
Tinner, a workout partner of Forrester, said, "I told him if he can get in on me in practice - and he does - that he can get the 195-pounders. He has to use that confidence."
The Greyhounds' top two wrestlers, Olson and Tinner, both romped to a pair of wins. Olson had a pair of third-period pins and Tinner outscored his opponents 31-1 in a pair of technical falls.
In the semifinals, Olson (37-1) will take on Central Dauphin's Jake Cherry (38-4); Forrester (35-3) will meet his rival, Blake Barrick of Big Spring (34-6) for the third time this year, and Tinner (35-1) will be up against Blaine Yinger of Northeastern (28-4). Tinner is the defending champion at 220 and Yinger won last year at 285.