SPRING GROVE — There has been one really big goal for the Spring Grove wrestling team throughout the entire 2017-18 season — making the PIAA Class 3-A state team tournament.
The last Rockets club to qualify for the state draw came back in 2013. So, the current Spring Grove wrestlers have never experienced competing against the top teams in the commonwealth.
With a strong effort on Tuesday, Jan. 30, in the District 3 3-A first round and quarterfinals, the Rockets took one giant step toward achieving that milestone.
After dispatching a scrappy Penn Manor side in the opener, 45-16, the Rockets squared off with fellow York-Adams League foe Gettysburg in the quarterfinals. In the unofficial “league title match," the Division I champions rallied from a late deficit by getting three late pins from Chase Bricker (126 pounds), Dalton Rohrbaugh (132) and Clay Baker (138) to close out a thrilling 46-31 victory over the Division II champs.
The Rockets (22-0) move on to the semifinals Thursday, Feb. 1, back at Spring Grove High School. The No. 2 seed will get No. 11 seed Cumberland Valley (14-3), which knocked off No. 3 seed Central Dauphin, 32-30. The Spring Grove-CV match is set for 5 p.m., as is the other semifinal, which pits Dallastown (15-3), the No. 9 seed, against No. 4 seed Cedar Cliff (18-1), which knocked off No. 5 seed New Oxford, 28-27.
While the two semifinal matches are going on, two consolation matches will take place as well. Both Gettysburg (14-4) and New Oxford (14-4) can still claim one of the four berths into the PIAA tournament with a pair of victories Thursday.
“This one was exciting,” Spring Grove coach Tony Miller said. “And it’s fortunate how our season has turned out. You have to peak at the right time and you have to be ready. Every match is a big match.”
Miller and his Rockets got a big dose of that this past weekend when a feisty Dallastown squad took the outcome all the way to the final bout of the night before Spring Grove prevailed to claim the outright York-Adams Division I title. That experience certainly helped out against a Warriors squad that was bristling at the opportunity to finally get a shot at the Rockets.
Gettysburg, which will move up to D-I next season, led by as many as nine points (31-22) with just four bouts remaining. But a forfeit and the back-to-back-to-back pins by Bricker, Rohrbaugh and Baker rallied the home team back in dramatic fashion.
“The best part of our lineup is from 120 to 160,” said Rohrbaugh, who remained unbeaten on the season with two victories Tuesday. “We started after 138 (at 145) and it was close throughout. But we knew we had Bricker, me, Clay, and that if we do our jobs that we’d be fine.”
For the Rockets to punch their ticket to states they will need just one more victory on Thursday. That could happen in the semifinal against a CV program that, along with CD, has dominated the District 3 3-A team landscape over the past two decades.
Gettysburg, however, will need to sweep both its first-round and semifinal consolation matches Thursday to advance. They’ll have to upset a CD team that is 15-2 on the season.
Regardless of the outcome, getting to the second day of the district draw was a big deal for the Warriors.
“I think this was huge (for our program),” Gettysburg coach Chris Haines said. “We hadn’t won a district dual meet since 1999 and we squeaked away in that first match.”
Gettysburg claimed a 38-35 triumph to defeat Cocalico in the first round.
Dallastown also moves on: At Manheim Central, the Dallastown Wildcats also advanced to the District 3 Class 3-A semifinals with a pair of victories on Tuesday.
Eighth-seeded Dallastown beat ninth-seeded Northern York in the first round, 37-30, and then took a thrilling 31-30 triumph over top-seeded Manheim Central in the quarterfinals.
Dallastown got a 12-4 major decision in the final bout from 152-pounder John Ligon to give the Wildcats the quarterfinal win.
Jamal Brandon (220), Raymond Christas (285) and Adam Karlie (106) had key consecutive pins for Dallastown to give the Wildcats a 24-9 lead, before Manheim Central stormed back to take a 30-27 edge, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.