Rockets clinch tie for D-I title
All season long, it was expected that the York-Adams League Division I wrestling title would come down to the winner of the South Western-Spring Grove match.
Sure enough, it did on Wednesday night, one night after the snowstorm from this past weekend postponed it a day. All that did, however, was help to build the anticipation, with a sold-out Spring Grove gymnasium and two raucous student sections engaging in their own battle.
In the end, it was the Rockets' fans who were loudest, winning the final four bouts to secure a 31-24 victory and clinch at least a tie for the York-Adams Division I crown.
"South Western really showed up," Spring Grove head coach Tony Miller said. "I thought our kids wrestled with a lot of heart. I don't know how many matches came down to one point, but it was a bunch of them in the whole thing and it was a good battle between two close teams."
The difference came in the end came when Andrew Lawson earned an ultimate tiebreaker victory over Scotty Dickmyer at 285, escaping from bottom position with just 3.5 seconds left in the final overtime period to earn the 3-2 win and get the Rockets (9-1 overall, 5-0 Division I) to within 24-16 with three bouts to go. After Spring Grove's Noah Colehaus earned a forfeit at 106 to make it 24-22 Mustangs, the match ultimately came down to 113 pounds. The Rockets' bumped Clay Baker up a weight class to wrestle South Western's Adam Leib, who needed some sort of bonus points to give the Mustangs (10-5 overall, 4-1 Division I) enough of a cushion going into the final match. Baker overcame an 8-6 deficit in the third period to secure a 12-6 victory, putting Spring Grove in front for the first time all night at 25-24, clinching the match. Dalton Rohrbaugh capped things off with a forfeit at 120 for the Rockets.
"We hit the meat of their lineup right away," Miller said about the match beginning at 126 pounds. "That's where their strength was, so I knew we were going to be down, so we kept telling our kids, 'It's 12-0, don't worry about it. It's a tied scored.' ...It was nice to have (Ryan) Daugherty go out and get us on the board (at 170)."
South Western did what it was expected to do right out of the gate, securing victories in the first six bouts of the match to build a 21-0 advantage. However, only one of those wins earned the team bonus points, which came from Derek Wilson, earning a pin in 28 seconds at 132 pounds. One of the big moments of the match was when Tanner Sterner prevented the Mustangs' Owen Wherley from securing any bonus points at 145 pounds, holding Wherley to just a 6-1 win. Despite Wherley earning his 20th straight victory and improving to 24-2 on the year, he was visibly upset at the result, which turned out to be a minor, moral victory for Spring Grove.
"Tanner is one of our senior leaders and hats off to him because he was in a tough one there," Miller said. "He knew what he had to do, he was doing his job keeping it as close as possible. I know he wants to win every one, but he's trying to win for the team right now."
Understanding that South Western was giving up 12 points over the final three bouts of the match because of forfeits, Mustangs head coach Nate Murren knew that his team was going to need to not only accumulate as many bonus points early as possible, but also win a couple swing bouts. While the bonus points didn't come, the swing bouts did go the Mustangs way, with Jordan Shepard defeating Trent Baker at 152, 8-4, and then Gage Thomas holding off Marcus Kehr, 6-5, in the highlight match of the evening. That bout at 160 pounds had Thomas entering at 20-4 on the year and Kehr at 23-5.
"The strategy was to get the best match-ups we could and win a lot of swing matches," Murren said. "We were showing our hand right from the get-go because of where we started. We had to bump (Jake) Mowery up to 126, so we showed them what we were going to do and basically said, 'Come and get it.'"
Once Daugherty earned a major decision for the Rockets at 170 pounds with a 9-1 victory, that started a stretch of bouts where Spring Grove won seven of the final eight in the match. Josh Cribbs got a huge pin for the Rockets at 195 pounds, then it came down to Lawson and Baker at the end to complete the comeback and seal the tie for the division title.
"Obviously that's always the goal is to win the division title," Miller said. "We got another match tomorrow, so we're not going to get too complacent, but tonight is an exciting night."
Spring Grove can clinch the outright division crown with a win at New Oxford on Thursday.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com