At the beginning of the season, Red Lion wrestler Dylan Gurreri had relatively modest goals for his senior season.
Not knowing what was in store, he wanted to reach the 100-win mark — hardly a lackluster achievement.
Gurreri reached the century mark in wins late in the regular season, achieving that personal goal. Since then, he's turned his attention to the postseason and, after a successful Section 4 competition in which he won the 160-pound division, Gurreri is now broadening his scope.
As one of the top seeds entering the upcoming District 3 3-A tournament with a 24-5 record, Gurreri realizes that qualifying for the state competition is closer than ever and that has his full attention.
"It's my last year, so it's do or die at this point," he said. "If I don't do it, then it's my last shot of trying to get there. It's my top priority now."
Gurreri has been to this stage the previous two years of high school, but always fell short of making states. As a sophomore, after winning his opening bout, he lost the next two. Last year, after dropping his opening bout, he went on to win his first consolation bout and then lost by a point in the next round, which would've put him on the brink of qualifying for states.
Gurreri, however, might be in his best position yet heading into districts. Two wins can get you into states over the three days of competition. Being a sectional champ, the first in his career, improves his positioning in the bracket to at least make the semifinals, in which case he'd have three shots to make the state field.
Gurreri will be one of five Lions to compete in the district tournament and is the second heaviest wrestler. However, it was longtime friend Riley Seredych, who will compete at 132 pounds, who helped Gurreri this season and vice-versa.
With a smaller team, Gurreri would spar with Seredych often this season as a way to improve his quickness by competing against the 132-pounder. Seredych also benefited from the partnership because, when he bumped up to 132 pounds during the season, he needed to train against stronger opponents and Gurreri provided him with that opportunity.
"There were very few people in the room who could give me that fight that I actually needed to better myself," Gurreri said. "When he made the decision to bump up to 132, we both knew that he was going to have to work with heavier guys to be successful at that weight, so we just started wrestling each other, and he's quick and that's one thing that I struggled on, with the quickness, being able to stop quick guys, and I think we're both benefiting from the help of each very well."
Gurreri's first bout on Thursday will be against Dalton Mowen of Waynesboro.
Dallastown's Pew withdraws from districts: Dallastown senior Drake Pew made a victorious return to the mat last weekend from his knee injury by winning the Section 4 title at 170 pounds.
His comeback came exactly one month after he suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in a regular-season bout against Spring Grove's Jared Barley. Pew said he wanted another shot at Barley to avenge the earlier loss, and he got it in the championship bout, defeating the Rockets' senior.
However, with his knee not fully 100 percent, Pew elected to withdraw from the upcoming district tournament. Because of that, Barley will now be the top Section 4 seed in districts, followed by Matthew Lehman (Dover), Michael Fortney (Gettysburg) and Antonio Rivera of Central York. Rivera got in the district field because Pew withdrew.
New format: With the district tournament moving from Hersheypark Arena to the Giant Center, the event will be spread over three days instead of the previous two.
Class 3-A action will begin at 3 Thursday afternoon. First-round action will open the competition, followed by championship quarterfinals and the first and second rounds of the consolation brackets. Class 2-A will commence at 10 Friday morning, with 3-A taking the stage that evening. The tournament will conclude Saturday morning with the championship matches starting at 9:45.
The finals will likely end around 1 p.m. The arena will then be cleared and prepared for a Hershey Bears game Saturday night.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org