SPRING GROVE — Several of the Spring Grove wrestlers were looking forward to putting up another championship banner inside the high school gymnasium this week.
While the Rockets won’t be doing that quite yet, the Spring Grove wrestlers did get something they’ve been hoping for since the season began in December — a berth into the PIAA Class 3-A playoffs.
The host team in the District 3 3-A semifinals and consolations Thursday, Feb. 1, shrugged off a disappointing 36-32 semifinal loss to Cumberland Valley earlier in the night by downing York-Adams League Division I rival New Oxford, 40-24, in the consolation semifinals.
The loss to Cumberland Valley, the No. 11 seed entering the draw, ended Spring Grove’s 22-match winning-streak and also ended any hopes of winning the district crown.
The Rockets (23-1) were the only Y-A squad to advance to Saturday’s action. Dallastown, who nearly advanced to the finals over Cedar Cliff before falling by criteria 36-35, couldn’t overcome a talented Central Dauphin squad in the consolation round, losing 32-25. As a result, New Oxford, Dallastown and Gettysburg, who was eliminated by Central Dauphin 42-22 in the consolation first round, all saw their respective team seasons come to a close.
“We’re going to states and that’s what we wanted to do,” Spring Grove coach Tony Miller said. “It would have been nice for it to happen after the first match, but I give our kids so much credit because they could have very easily just folded.”
Not with the squad’s No. 1 goal still left unchecked on their to-do list. Miller’s crew has been talking about ending the team’s five-year drought from the PIAA tournament all season long. With a chance to do that, especially against a rival such as the Colonials, the Rockets certainly were not going to give up easily.
“We had our chances against Cumberland Valley,” Miller said. “But they went back and regrouped, which is a testament to this team.”
The Rockets will take on Central Dauphin in the third-place match Saturday, Feb. 3, at Milton Hershey High School at 1 p.m. Win or lose, however, the Rockets are going to states.
Criteria loss: While the home team was the only Y-A team to move on, the Wildcats certainly appeared to have punched their ticket earlier in the night. Leading by three points heading into the final bout of their semifinal against Cedar Cliff, the Colts were able to squeak out a decision to even the score at 35-35.
That’s when the fun began. The two referees worked with official scorers to determine a winner. After criteria A-G proved to be indecisive, criteria H — the total of first points scored in each individual bout — proved to be the factor that gave Cedar Cliff the nod. The Colts scored 15 first points to Dallastown’s 11.
“There aren’t too many that I remember,” Dallastown coach Dave Gable said in reference to a question about how many other matches that he’s been involved with that come down to the eighth tie-breaker. “Criteria H is pretty far down there. That’s how you know it was a close battle.”
Gable refused to blame any one particular match over another as a deciding factor. The contest at 195, however, was key. With the match tied at 4-4 between Cedar Cliff’s Hunter Nelson and Dallastown’s Andrew Smith, the Colts were able to claim a full six points when Nelson earned the rare OT pin.
“I know that there were probably a lot of places where we could get an extra point,” Gable said “But you can’t look back. You have to look forward.”
Gable, who is in his first year back as the varsity head coach this season after stepping away previously, could not have been more proud of his team's efforts this season.
“Our motto this year was ‘effort over outcome,’” he said. “And I think that's one thing that they never disappointed me with (this year) in terms of whether we won or lost. And tonight was no different.”
Susquehannock 60, York Suburban 15: At Glen Rock, the Warriors improved to 11-7 and finished 3-3 in York-Adams Division II. Eric Younkin (138) and Joey Romjue (182) each had first-period pins for the Warriors. Nasier Gellispie had a pin for Suburban, which had a 4-2 edge in the matches actually wrestled. Susquehannock, however, got eight wins by forfeit.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.