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Dallastown wrestler makes triumphant return, then retires

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Drake Pew made a triumphant return to the wrestling mat this past weekend at the District 3 Class 3A Section 4 tournament.

It will likely be his last competitive match ever. And it was a grudge match.

A month ago, Pew suffered a serious injury – a second degree MCL sprain to his left knee – during a match against Spring Grove’s Jared Barley.

When they met again in a rematch for the 170-pound sectional title on Saturday, it was Pew who came out on top, however, beating Barley in a 5-2 decision.

But that's likely where the rivalry will end. Pew said Saturday’s win was most likely the last of his high school career, and that he's pulled out of this weekend’s District 3 tournament.

“I kind of retired, I guess you could say,” Pew said.

Pew returned to the sectional tournament in large part, he said, to get another crack at Barley. When Pew was injured a month ago, he saw Barley celebrating the victory following their hotly competitive match.

“That fueled my fire,” Pew said.

“I didn’t want to end my season with an injury and a loss,” he said.

So in somewhat of a surprise, Pew entered the sectional tournament, his first competitive action since suffering the injury. He'd originally speculated the injury could keep him out for the remainder of the wrestling season as well as the high school lacrosse season.

And he got the rematch he was looking for against Barley. It came in the 170-pound final.

“I could tell that he was trying to come after me," Barley said. "I just wrestled like I normally do.”

Spring Grove coach Tony Miller said there was no prior history between the two wrestlers. Miller added both matches were an example of two competitors going at it during crunch time of the high school wrestling season.

“Whatever happened, happened there," Miller said. "Good battle between the two of them, both times.”

Now, with Pew pulling out of the District 3 tournament, Barley will be Section 4's top entrant at 170 pounds in the District 3 Class 3A tournament that begins Thursday.

Pew said doctors originally told him that he would miss three months because of the injury, but a follow-up MRI indicated he could be back in about a month.

Pew began rehabbing immediately, but he could only do upper-body workouts. He said he ditched crutches just over two weeks ago and began “rolling around with teammates” on the wrestling mat last Monday in preparation for sectionals.

“Made sure weight was all right and said whatever happens, happens,” Pew said. “I completely understood the risk.”

Pew's knee was heavily bandaged, and he wore a brace during Saturday’s matches. He said he was not 100 percent physically and that he also became fatigued, particularly during the championship.

“I was able to do what I could do,” he said. “I had to keep it at my pace.”

Pew said the deciding factor on not continuing his wrestling postseason stems from his aspirations to play college football. The four-sport star at Dallastown said he’ll likely to commit to Bryant University in the coming weeks as a kicker, and doesn't want to jeopardize that opportunity.

Pew added that on Sunday – one day after sectionals – he took a mile run to test his knee in hopes of playing lacrosse this spring. He added that his status for the lacrosse season remains up in the air.

One thing that's not up in the air, however, is Pew's toughness or his competitive drive.

“Wrestling is kind of a love, hate thing,” he said. “You hate practice, you hate cutting weight, you love getting your hand raised. I just had a voice in my head, I guess, that I shouldn’t quit. I had something to prove. I’m not someone who’s going to quit after getting hurt.”