SPRING GROVE -- Just two weeks ago, Derek Carlisle didn't have much to brag about.
Yeah, he was having a solid season after being a District 3-AAA individual qualifier last year. But the Rockets' senior didn't factor into the team's final two York-Adams League wins that sealed up the Division I crown. Carlisle ended the regular season losing to two of the better 113-pounders in the league in Central York's Dylan Chatterton (by pin) and South Western's Derek Wilson (in a 3-2 decision).
"After that I was really down on myself," Carlisle said Monday night. "But now I'm getting back up and getting ready for sectionals."
The 113-pounder has been a force on the mat since those defeats, winning all five of his bouts in the Rockets' postseason matches. The most recent came Monday in Spring Grove's preliminary-round PIAA Class AAA Team Tournament match against Boyertown.
Carlisle led by two points through two periods against freshman Garrett Mauger, one of eight Boyertown wrestlers with a plus-.500 individual record. The bout appeared to be evenly-matched until the grapplers reset on their feet after Mauger was called for stalling. Carlisle attacked with a takedown and closed out the final 90 seconds by scoring five total back points to nail down a major decision. Teammate Zack Clingan (120 pounds) followed with a major decision to seal up the Rockets' victory with two bouts remaining.
Spring Grove came out on top by a final score of 37-24.
"You could see him (Carlisle) kick it into high gear when he put that kid on his back," Spring Grove coach Tony Miller said. "I was leaning back at that point. I knew what was going on. He's going into overdrive, he's trying to pin him."
The Rockets (24-1) now move on to face defending state champion Canon McMillan (15-0) on Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey. In Class AA, Bermudian Springs also moved onto the next round by beating Mount Union, 38-21, in a preliminary match Monday.
Making history: Spring Grove's victory marked the first state tournament win in program history.
The Rockets will have a challenge in getting a second win, though. Canon McMillan is ranked No. 1 in the state in Class AAA by papowerwrestling.com.
"If we wrestle them like we did against C.D. (Central Dauphin) it's gonna be a close match," Carlisle said.
Spring Grove has done a good job of bouncing back from last Thursday's 33-26 loss to Central Dauphin in the District 3-AAA semifinals. Central Dauphin went on to win its sixth straight district title, while Spring Grove beat Wilson in the district third-place match.
"The kids knew how close they were to being district champs," Miller said. "But we set another goal. Our goal was to get to Hershey and wrestle and that's where we're going."
Spring Grove won nine of the 14 bouts against Boyertown (17-8), the third-place team from District 1. Five of the bouts were decided by three points or less, with Spring Grove coming out on top in three of them. The Rockets opened up a 25-3 lead midway through the match but Boyertown won the next three bouts to pull within 25-18 before Carlisle stopped the bleeding with a 15-3 major decision. Mason Bentzel (145) and Jon Gross (170) had Spring Grove's only pins.
"I'm so happy with the way the kids wrestled," Miller said. "You could tell they wanted to go to Hershey, there's no doubt about that."
BERMUDIAN SPRINGS 38, MOUNT UNION 21: At York Springs, the Eagles rolled to a state Class AA preliminary-round victory. Austin Jackson (138) and Briton Shelton (145) supplied pins for the winners. Bermudian will now face District 7-AA champion Burrell on Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey in a first-round match.
-- Reach John Walk at email@example.com.