HERSHEY – There were a number of ups and downs for the Dallastown wrestling team this weekend at the District 3 Class 3-A Individual Championships at Hersheypark Arena.
The good news for the Wildcats is that the ups certainly outweighed the downs.
Dallastown ended up with four top-four finishes, which earned those Wildcats tickets into the PIAA Tournament.
Not surprisingly, Dallastown coach Dave Gable was happy at the end of Saturday’s action.
Gable picked up the District 3 3-A Coach of the Year award Saturday after leading the Wildcats to an undefeated regular season and a runner-up finish in the district team championships. He was more than pleased that he will take four wrestlers to the state draw. Dallastown finished second in the team standings on Saturday with 120.5 points, while Cedar Cliff won the crown at 124.5.
Dallastown's four state qualifiers – Brooks Gable (138), John Ligon (160), Jamal Brandon (220) and Raymond Christas (285) – included a pair of fourth-place finishers (Gable, Ligon), a runner-up (Christas) as well as the school’s first district champ since Rodney Sunday in 2014 (Brandon).
“It was a good weekend,” coach Gable said. “Your heart breaks, unfortunately, for some the of the guys who don’t quite achieve their goals. So that’s really tough as a coach. But, obviously, I’m elated for Jamal and some of the other guys. You’re happy and sad at the same time.”
There was no question that Brandon’s stunning pin victory in the 220 final was the highlight of the weekend. After Central Dauphin’s Marques Holten and Brandon were tied 2-2 after regulation, neither was able to score during the sudden-victory period. Brandon, who defeated Holten 3-2 during the district team competition last month, earned an escape in the first overtime to take a 3-2 lead. In the second overtime period, Holten nearly escaped, but Brandon still had control with a bear hug.
After the ref called Brandon for stalling, Holten tried to hip toss Brandon. The move backfired. Brandon was able to brace himself before turning his momentum against Holten. Within a second Holten was on his back.
“I didn’t think it was going to work at first,” Brandon said. “But once I saw him go down I was on top of him.”
Once the ref slapped his hand on the mat, Brandon and his Dallastown teammates celebrated the school’s sixth District 3 champion.
“It was surreal,” Brandon said. “It was something else. The guys are out there looking out for everyone, but this was something special. After all of the stuff I had to go through to get here … it’s my senior year and I’m going to the state tournament.”
Rematches can sometimes be tricky in wrestling. What worked the first time often won’t work a second time. That can lead to some guessing as to what may work in the rematch.
“I just learned to expect the unexpected,” Brandon said. “He’s very fast and very strong and I just had to make sure that my sprawling time was perfect.”
Wolfgram repeats at 285: Speaking of perfect, Central York heavyweight Michael Wolfgram remained that after claiming gold at the 285-pound class, successfully defending his title.
The Panther standout had to go through his rival in Christas to do it.
A week after Wolfgram was held to a 12-5 decision over Christas in the Section 4 final, Wolfgram put on a clinic Saturday. Scoring 10 takedowns to go with an escape and three nearfall points, Wolfgram earned a technical fall over Christas in 5:08 (24-9).
Central coach Seth Beitz liked what he saw from his standout. All he had to do was remind Wolfgram to wrestle the way he normally does.
“I think it was just (Michael) remembering his style,” Beitz said. “In that match, against a really tough competitor, I knew that Mike was feeling it. Just wrestling an offensive match. And that’s Mike Wolfgram. That’s the kind of style that (he) wants to wrestle and that’s what his legacy has been.”
Now Wolgram, who finished fourth at the state tournament a year ago, will embark on what he hopes is a journey to a state title before moving on to West Virginia next year. He is, however, not going to pay attention to the finals until he hopefully gets there.
“I’m just going to take it one match at a time,” he said. “Whenever I take the mat, I’m going to try to dominate whoever is on the other side of it. That’s what’s going to score you a lot of points.”
Leiphart, Wilson, Christas finish second: There was optimism that Dover’s Mason Leiphart and Notheastern’s Cole Wilson could secure district titles after dominating performances at sectionals last week.
Both Leiphart (106) and Wilson (120) made it to the district final in similar fashion. But both standouts ran into buzz saws that ended their dreams of winning gold.
Leiphart dropped a 10-2 major decision to Cedar Cliff’s Aiden Lewis while Wilson fell to Manheim Central's Will Bentancourt, 3-0. It was the second straight year that Wilson fell to Betancourt in the district final.
Christas may get another chance at Wolfgram in the state draw, but he fell to 0-6 lifetime against his rival. Both of the losses this year for Christas have been against Wolfgram.
Gettysburg's Dylan Reinert finished second at 160 pounds in 3-A.
In Class 2-A, four York-Adams wrestlers from Adams County claimed crowns: Biglerville's Levi Haines at 106, Bermudian Springs' Trenton Harder at 152, Littlestown's Carl Harris at 170 and Littlestown's Jason Penton at 182. Biglerville's Eli Tuckey finished second at 132.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.
The following York-Adams wrestlers earned District 3 Class 3-A state berths:
106: Mason Leiphart, Dover, second.
120: Cole Wilson, Northeastern, second.
138: Brooks Gable, Dallastown, fourth.
145: Luke Sainato, Gettysburg, third; Thomas Dressler, Spring Grove, fourth.
152: Colby Romjue, Susquehannock, third.
160: Dylan Reinert, Gettysburg, second; Ethan Baney, South Western, third; John Ligon, Dallastown, fourth.
170: Anthony Hinson, Spring Grove, third; Tanner Schaller, Central York, fourth.
220: Jamal Brandon, Dallastown, first.
285: Michael Wolfgram, Central York, first; Raymond Christas, Dallastown, second.