HERSHEY --- It was by no means a perfect performance, but Spring Grove's Dalton Rohrbaugh will take it.
A year after fizzling out on the first day of the PIAA Class 3-A wrestling tournament, Rohrbaugh made sure he avoided a similar disappointment Thursday, Mar. 8 at the Giant Center in Hershey.
It took a while for Rohrbaugh to get going in his first-round match at 126-pounds against Tyler McKinney of Erie Cathedral Prep. After two scoreless periods, Rohrbaugh earned an escape and a takedown before getting a well-deserved pin of McKinney at the 5:23 mark.
Rohrbaugh's triumph assures the Spring Grove senior of a spot in Friday’s quarterfinal round, where he will face Sam Hillegas of North Hills. It also gave him the Spring Grove record for career victories with 148.
“It felt good," said Rohrbaugh, who improved to 41-2 on the season. "But I felt as if there were a lot of things that I still need to improve on. I didn't think I wrestled good in the first two periods. I think I just need to score more points in the early periods.”
Still chasing gold: Rohrbaugh is one of four York-Adams League wrestlers that remain in contention for the gold medal after the first day of the PIAA championships.
South Western's Ethan Baney at 160, New Oxford's Timothy Uhler at 113 and Central York's Michael Wolfgram at 285 all claimed victories in the first-round to advance to Friday's quarterfinals. Another victory would assure each of a state medal.
The Rocket standout Rohrbaugh was determined to put away the negative thoughts surrounding last year's run.
“I thought about it a little bit," Rohrbaugh said of his 5-3 setback a year ago. "I just didn't want to make the same mistakes as last year.”
The biggest error that Rohrbaugh felt he committed as a junior was that he cut too much weight. This year was decidedly different.
“I worked a lot harder this year and my weight is good this year," he said. "I knew that if I just did what I've done all year that I would be fine.”
Rohrbaugh shared a hearty high-five with his Spring Grove coaches after the victory. The disappointment of last year, in which he finished with a 1-2 record and no medal, seemed like a distant memory.
The Lock Haven University recruit will need to make sure he doesn't wait to kick things into gear Friday against Hillegas. The North Hills standout is 28-1 this year after claiming the title in the same 113-pound weight class that he shared with Rohrbaugh a season ago.
“I've been thinking about it for the past two weeks really," he said. "And that one thing that I keep thinking about is that there will probably be about 15 people in this entire arena - me included - who are going to think that I have a chance. I don't know, but I just want to go out and shock everybody.”
Other quarterfinalists: While Rohrbaugh will be seeking his shocking victory, Baney already has his. After the Mustang sophomore scored a 4-0 victory in his preliminary contest, Baney was rewarded with a ticket directly to the quarterfinals.
That honor came when Mikey Lewis of Bethlehem Catholic was forced to withdraw after failing a skin condition check. Baney (37-6) will get Gerrit Hijenhuis of Canon-McMillan in the quarterfinals.
Uhler (38-9) had his hands full against Jon Shreffler of Central Mountain. After regaining the lead in the third period, the New Oxford sophomore hung on for a 4-3 victory. He will get Ryan Sullivan of Shaler Area in the quarterfinals.
Wolfgram stays unbeaten: Then there's Wolfgram, the undefeated heavyweight whose record stands at 37-0.
Wolfgram claimed a 12-4 major decision over Michael Leyland of Roman Catholic to make the quarterfinals. A victory over Gerald Brown of West Mifflin in that contest will assure Wolfgram, who missed a medal last year, of one this time around.
“I'm not worried about that," Wolfgram said of assuring a medal. "The top guys in here...they're not worried about getting a medal. They're worried about being at the top and that's where I want to be.”
Three area wrestlers still alive include Northeastern's Cole Wilson (113), Dallastown's Jarrett Feeney (160) and Spring Grove's Anthony Hinson (160).
Those eliminated include Dover's Matthew Rodriguez at 113 and Dallastown's Dalton Daugherty at 132.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com