NEW OXFORD — In a sport such as wrestling, where emotions can run extremely high, sometimes it's the ability to stay calm and in the moment that gives one team the edge.
The match on Tuesday night, Jan. 23, at New Oxford High School between the Colonials and the Spring Grove Rockets served as a prime example.
After falling behind early, the Rockets were able to overcome a highly-charged, playoff-like atmosphere and collect key victories on their way to a crucial 36-25 victory.
The win keeps the Rockets undefeated on the season at 18-0 overall, but more importantly it put them in prime position to defend their York-Adams League Division I crown by moving their division record to 5-0.
The Colonials had entered the night tied with the Rockets atop the division standings, but now trail by one game at 4-1. They also fell to 12-3 overall.
“Great match between two teams. It’s awesome to see a high school match look like this,” Spring Grove head coach Tony Miller said. “Hats off to New Oxford. I thought they wrestled us hard, but I thought our kids wrestled well tonight.”
It would have been easy to confuse the scene in New Oxford with that of a playoff match, given the packed gymnasium, intense crowds for both teams and the fact that the squads entered the night right next to each other in the District 3 Class 3-A power ratings. Spring Grove entered the night in the second spot, while the Colonials entered in the third position. The top four teams in Class 3-A will host the first and second rounds of the team tournament.
Key match: In what was perhaps the night’s most emotional match, Spring Grove’s Jake Meyer was able to keep his composure before collecting a takedown with two seconds left in the third period to defeat Jaleel Johnson, 5-3, at 145 pounds.
“Just a double leg,” Meyer said of the move he hit late to pick up the win. “I got it earlier in the match, so I did it again.”
Meyer’s victory ignited the Rocket faithful, garnering a loud roar that seemed to energize his team. It also punctuated a 19-0 run for the Rockets that saw them establish a 19-12 lead after the first seven matches.
However, Meyer’s victory might not have been had he let a late-third-period stalling call against him become a bother. The call, which brought a large reaction of displeasure from fans and Rockets alike, made the bout 3-3.
“Jake’s a veteran, a four-year starter who went to states last year, so we kind of expect that out of him,” Miller said. “To come out here and keep his composure through that match, he knew what he had to do.”
Rockets fall behind: The match, which opened at 106 pounds, saw the Rockets forfeit at 106 before New Oxford’s Tim Uhler pinned Brayden Ross at 113, giving the host Colonials an early 12-0 advantage.
With momentum quickly in the Colonials' favor, Spring Grove responded with an 8-0 decision from Chase Bricker at 120 pounds before Rockets standout Dalton Rohrbaugh took to the mat at 126 pounds.
Rohrbaugh garnered the Rockets' first large roar of the night by scoring a pin over Lance Beckner that quickly trimmed the Colonials' lead to 12-10.
After Meyer’s bout at 145, New Oxford got as close at it would the rest of the night by quickly quieting one side of the gym and causing a reaction of its own.
The Colonials’ Matt Poust was able to pin Chance Jackson at 152 pounds, and the match was suddenly tight again at 19-18 in favor of the Rockets.
Spring Grove’s Ryan Miller would cause the night’s last large reaction when he defeated Brock Crawford, 10-5, at 220 pounds to clinch the outcome.
It could have been easy for Miller to succumb to the moment, having to put on weight during the week to wrestle up. The Rockets led 33-22 heading into Miller’s bout, so it was desperation time for the Colonials.
“Ryan, he jumped to 220 and that’s pretty tough,” coach Miller said. “He had to weigh 184.3, so he’s been eating cheeseburgers for a couple days to get over weight. But (he) had to do it for his team, and that’s what we ask them to do, we ask them to do their job. We had to make a move and it paid off for us.”
Coming up: There’s little rest ahead for the Rockets. They turn around and host West York on Wednesday night before their attempt to clinch the division crown on Saturday, Jan. 27. That night will see Spring Grove travel to Dallastown (12-2, 3-1 Division I).
New Oxford will next finish up its division slate with a trip to Northeastern on Thursday, Jan. 25.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.