With the final seconds of the third period counting down and trailing by just two points, Spring Grove senior Mike Hartman needed to score a reversal to tie it up and send the 145-pound bout to overtime.
With Wilson senior Mike Hafer on his back and the wrestlers near the edge of the mat, Hartman was sitting up on his butt when he arched his back and stretched his arm back over Hafer's body, aiming to get his hand on the back of Hafer's leg. He nearly accomplished the feat, but the buzzer sounded just when it appeared Hartman had the reversal. Hafer walked away with a two-point victory.
"I had it for a split second. I just didn't have control," Hartman said. "I had a couple opportunities I just didn't capitalize on."
A few other bouts would follow similar outcomes and No. 6 seed Wilson eventually pulled out a 34-29 victory over No. 4 Spring Grove in a District 3-AAA Team Tournament consolation match Thursday night inside the Rockets' home gym.
A match earlier, the Bulldogs had done the same to No. 15 South Western in a 35-23 consolation victory, winning four of nine bouts by four points or less. In one night, Wilson (17-4) brought an end to the team seasons of South Western (14-8) and Spring Grove to move on to Saturday's District 3-AAA third-place match while also qualifying for the PIAA Class AAA Team Tournament. Spring Grove faced Wilson shortly after dropping a district semifinal match, 46-16, to top-seeded Cumberland Valley (15-1), who will meet No. 3 Central Dauphin (18-2) in the title match Saturday.
Not once did Spring Grove hold a lead Thursday, although the Rockets were on the verge of doing so multiple times against Wilson. Falling behind early, 15-0, after three bouts, Spring Grove responded by winning the next two bouts and three of the next four to pull within 15-10 and 21-16 before a hard-fought 138-pound bout featuring Spring Grove senior Taylor Gardner. Trailing 7-0 going into the second period, Gardner picked up Wilson freshman Tommy O'Brien and slammed him on his back. For a split second, it appeared Gardner had the takedown and was going for a pin, but the referees blew the whistle and penalized Gardner for the slam. O'Brien went on to win the bout, 8-0.
"It's the officials' call. It's not my call," Spring Grove coach Tony Miller said.
The Rockets later trailed 31-20 with three bouts remaining when Wilson sophomore Adam Brown (170) was questionably awarded two points on a takedown of sophomore Marcus Kehr on the edge of the mat. A Spring Grove assistant coach discussed that takedown with an official, feeling it should not have counted because the wrestlers appeared to be out of the circle. It would've kept the bout tied, but Brown eventually won, 7-3.
"You can't blame the official," Miller said. "It's yours to win or lose. When matches get tight like that, then calls make a big difference. You try to prevent it from being like that, then those things don't happen."
Earlier in the match, Spring Grove senior C.J. Sterner had lost his heavyweight bout by a point.
"That's what it comes down to are those couple decisions. And it wasn't one spot. There were a bunch of spots," Miller said. "Maybe we could've got bonus points, could've got a decision to go our way and we would've won the match."
Spring Grove finished its team season with a 20-4 overall record, which included a 9-1 mark in York-Adams League competition. The Rockets earned a share of the division title. Spring Grove also reached back-to-back district semifinals for the first time in program history.
"What we lost last year to get back to district semifinals ... if you step back and look at what we lost there aren't many people out there who said we could've gotten back to that point," Miller said. "And these kids did it."
Central York 39, Kennard-Dale 35: At Central, the Panthers trailed 35-33 going into the final bout of the match, when Richard Blaine (145) scored a pin at the 2:21 mark of the bout to secure the York-Adams Division I victory. Nathaniel Stephens (220) and Sam Butler (126) also recorded pins for Central. For the Rams, Pat Scarborough (160), Chance Marsteller (182), Mike Bracey (113) and Austin McNamee (138) each scored pins.
Susquehannock 37, Hanover 31: At Glen Rock, Zach Holloway earned a third-period pin in the final bout of the night at 138 to give Susquehannock the win. The Warriors also got pins from Tyler White (182), R.J. Myers (220) and Adam Dell (285). Hanover got pins from Caleb Garland (120), Travis Golden (126) Tyler Shafer (145) and Josh Ledbetter (160).
Columbia 48, Eastern 30: At Wrightsville, the Golden Knights received pins from Dalton Lauer (132), Damian McKinsey (152), Clayton Miller (170), Zackery Ilgenfritz (182) and Lucas Barshinger (195).
Dover 33, Northern York 33 (Dover wins on criteria): At Dover, the Eagles triumphed on criteria in the non-league battle. The Eagles' Calvin Anderson won the final bout at 152, 8-2, to forge the tie and allow Dover to get the win. Brandon Rodriguez (113) had a pin for Dover.
— Reach John Walk at email@example.com.