They first met on the mat during a tournament back in their elementary school days. They wouldn't meet again until last February in the Central York High School wrestling room.

Sam Butler was a sophomore. Dylan Chatterton was an eighth grader. Preparing for the upcoming sectional tournament, Butler needed a better practice partner last February.

"It's the first time I've ever had a really tough partner to challenge me when we go live (in practice)," Butler said of Chatterton. "If I don't bring my A-game I can't beat him. Even when I'm good, sometimes I don't get the best of him."

It's a similar scene in the Panthers' wrestling room this week. The grapplers are pushing each other to get ready for what lies on the horizon -- the upcoming individual sectional tournament that will decide who gets to move on to districts.

Central York wrestlers Dylan Chatterton and Sam Butler prepare for the upcoming sectional tournament.
Central York wrestlers Dylan Chatterton and Sam Butler prepare for the upcoming sectional tournament. (John A. Pavoncello)

York-Adams League grapplers from Class AAA will compete in the Section V Tournament at South Western High School. The league's grapplers at the Class AA level will compete in the Section I Tournament at Susquenita. All sectional tournaments will be held this Saturday.

Butler: The plaques hang on the wall in Central's wrestling room like motivational tools. On one is the list of two state medalists -- both from James English in 2007 and 2008. On another are the seven state qualifiers. Then the seven district medalists, 73 district qualifiers and 29 sectional champs.

Butler and Chatterton are Central's best bets this season to add to those lists. It'll be the third go-around for Butler (120 pounds) at sectionals after falling short the last two seasons. A year ago he got pinned in the 106-pound semifinals to South Western's Logan Feeser, the eventual District 3-AAA champ. In his consolation match, Butler lost 9-4 to Dallastown's Nick Shields, who later took bronze at districts.

Butler, now a junior, thinks about those performances everyday. But he doesn't give any excuses, despite the fact he was competing on a bum right knee for most of the 2011-12 season. He kept that bit of information quiet from everyone until he had surgery a month after the season at WellSpan's Apple Hill Medical Center to repair torn cartilage and a partially torn MCL. He wasn't back to full health until a month before this season started.

Butler has compiled a 26-4 individual mark so far this year. Two of those losses have come against Spring Grove standout Zack Clingan (33-4), a returning District 3-AAA qualifier and arguably the best 120-pounder in the York-Adams League. Butler, though, said he has used those bouts against Clingan as learning lessons.

"If I wanted to I could've gone in there and not been opened up but I wouldn't have learned anything because I wouldn't have attacked him," Butler said. "So I have a game plan for him."

Chatterton: Much like Shields a year ago, Chatterton will be the freshman to watch out for in the 106-pound weight class at sectionals and beyond. Chatterton is dropping down from 113 pounds to 106 pounds for sectionals.

This comes after the grappler compiled a 22-1 record at 113 pounds during the regular season. His only loss came from an injury default when he suffered a concussion in the first round of the Penn Manor tournament in December. The freshman, who talks with the maturity of a senior, has since gone on to beat some of the best 113-pounders in the York-Adams League.

"I think a couple of those matches could have possibly been a little better on my part," Chatterton said. "But I'm not really surprised (with the early success). With sectionals coming up my hard work is gonna finally, hopefully, pay off here soon."

Note: Kennard-Dale junior standout Chance Marsteller has officially dropped down to 160 pounds for the individual postseason.

The two-time Class AAA state champion is 29-0 this season and 114-0 for his career. He also wrestled at 160 pounds last year, when he cruised to the state title. Marsteller had wrestled at 170 pounds during the regular season.

The move down to 160 could put him on a collision course with Central Dauphin star Garrett Peppelman in the District 3 and PIAA Class AAA tournaments at 160. Peppelman is 37-0 this season and won the 152-pound state AAA championship in 2012.

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.