The official brackets for this week's 16-team District 3-AAA Team Tournament were released Sunday.
The tournament will begin Tuesday, with opening-round matches at 6 p.m. and quarterfinal matches immediately following. The top four seeded teams will be the host sites of Tuesday's first two rounds.
Included in the Class AAA bracket are four York-Adams League teams, three of which aren't much of a surprise. Returning nearly its entire lineup this season, New Oxford (13-1) performed up to expectations to earn the No. 2 seed and the Colonials are set to host No. 15 South Western (13-6), which entered last week on the outside looking in at the district event before pulling off an upset last Thursday over Spring Grove. That match bumped the traditionally strong Rockets (18-2) from No. 2 in the power rankings down to the No. 4, with Spring Grove set to host No. 13 Milton Hershey (6-0). Plus, Spring Grove is the host site for this year's district semifinals. So if the Rockets make it that far, they'll have home-gym advantage all the way up to the district championship, which will be held Saturday at Milton Hershey.
Red Lion: The surprise entrant to the party is No. 8 seed Red Lion, which will face No. 9 Big Spring (8-2) at top-seeded Cumberland Valley (12-1) on Tuesday. The Lions (13-3) entered the season with just seven returning starters from a club that went 2-8 in York-Adams Division I competition a year ago, including just two returning wrestlers who had plus-.500 individual records.
Starting four seniors, three juniors and seven underclassmen, Red Lion began this season going 2-3 in division competition, with the three losses coming to the top three teams in Division I (Spring Grove, South Western and New Oxford). Since then, Red Lion has won three straight league matches, the most recent coming last Thursday in a 34-26 victory at rival Dallastown (8-7).
"We hadn't beat Dallastown in years," said second-year Red Lion coach Chris Schell. "We hadn't made district duals in probably seven years. I said (Thursday) 'You guys can change the world tonight by beating Dallastown and making district duals.'"
The last time Red Lion had beaten Dallastown on the mat was Dec. 19, 2006, 28-27. Highly-respected coach Biff Walizer was leading the Red Lion program back then. Walizer, now an assistant at NCAA Division II Millersville, stepped down after the 2010-2011 campaign following 11 seasons at the helm. During his last 10 seasons, Walizer led Red Lion to a share of four division titles and a 66-17 record in league competition.
Walizer's departure was felt immediately. The Lions went 4-6 in Division I under new coach Brad Keeney in 2011-12, marking the program's first losing record in league action in 11 years. Keeney resigned following that season and now coaches Susquehannock. Schell didn't fare much better last season, though, with Red Lion posting a 2-8 record in the division.
"If you make it to any of our matches, you'll see we wear black T-shirts that say 'attitude' on the front and on the back 'respect the past, wrestle for the present and build for the future,'" Schell said. "By 'attitude.' it's not a negative type of attitude. It's going after somebody and dominating on the mat. We want that back. We want that attitude Red Lion used to have."
Schell, who previously coached 11 seasons in Red Lion's junior high and elementary ranks, also added varsity assistants Dave Conaway and Albert Gleichauf to a staff that already includes assistants Jerrid Hartman, a former Red Lion and York College wrestler, and Matt Maris. Gleichauf is a former York College wrestler. Conaway retired following last season after coaching New Oxford's varsity program for 21 seasons.
The Lions have two remaining league matches against Northeastern on Monday and Central York on Wednesday, the latter of which Schell is trying to get moved to the following week to give his team a rest given Tuesday's scheduled team-tournament matches.
"Anything can happen Tuesday night," Schell said. "I know we're likely gonna be up against Cumberland Valley (in the quarterfinals) but these kids keep surprising me."
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
District 3-AAA Team Tournament
First-round matches, 6 p.m. Tuesday:
Note — Quarterfinal matches will immediately follow first-round matches at first-round host sites:
No. 1 Cumberland Valley (12-1) vs. No. 16 Hempfield (13-4) at Cumberland Valley.
No. 8 Red Lion (13-3) vs. No. 9 Big Spring (8-2) at Cumberland Valley.
No. 5 Cedar Cliff (17-2) vs. No. 12 Governor Mifflin (15-4) at Spring Grove.
No. 4 Spring Grove (18-2) vs. No. 13 Milton Hershey (6-0) at Spring Grove.
No. 3 Central Dauphin (15-2) vs. No. 14 Red Land (9-4) at Central Dauphin.
No. 6 Wilson (14-3) vs. No. 11 Garden Spot (14-3) at Central Dauphin.
No. 7 Solanco (5-1) vs. No. 10 Exeter Township (16-3) at New Oxford.
No. 2 New Oxford (13-1) vs. No. 15 South Western (13-6) at New Oxford.
District 3-AA Team Tournament
Quarterfinal matches, 6 p.m. Wednesday:
Note — Semifinal matches will immediately following quarterfinal matches at quarterfinal host sites:
No. 1 Boiling Springs (8-1) vs. No. 8 Bishop McDevitt (8-5) at Boiling Springs.
No. 4 Bermudian Springs (20-5) vs. No. 5 Schuylkill Valley (11-4) at Boiling Springs.
No. 3 Northern Lebanon (11-0) vs. No. 6 Wyomissing (12-6) at Hamburg.
No. 2 Hamburg (16-2) vs. No. 7 ELCO (16-7) at Hamburg.