After a wild and winding regular season that many believed would never be completed, we’ve arrived at the individual wrestling postseason.
For District 3 runners-up Gettysburg, South Western and New Oxford, that begins today as South Western plays host to the Section 4 Class 3A tournament.
COVID-19 restrictions and one weight class being dropped means this year’s brackets were reduced from 14 wrestlers apiece to just eight. While the Warriors unsurprisingly qualified all 13 of their wrestlers, the Mustangs qualified 12 of 13 and Brian Martin’s Colonials qualified seven.
“We got about as many as we thought we would,” Martin said. “There was one more guy we thought would maybe get a chance but with COVID changing things we knew it was going to a tough decision and he ended up No. 10.”
Both Chris Haines of Gettysburg and Nate Murren of South Western said they qualified the amount they expected to and that despite the changes, they came away satisfied with the seeding process.
At 106 pounds, Gettysburg’s Reed Miller comes in as the fourth seed and riding a six-match winning streak. South Western’s Daniel Pierce checks in at No. 7 and Trent Uhler of New Oxford is No. 8.
“I think Reed is wrestling very well right now,” Haines said of the sophomore. “It’s been tough getting him going with the number of forfeits he’s had this year, but he’s been wrestling well lately and I think he could make a run. I think four of the top six guys in our region are in our section, so it’ll be a battle.”
Up at 113, New Oxford’s Jerry Dattoli is the second seed, while Gabe Pecaitis checks in at No. 4 for the Warriors.
“Jerry’s the type of kid who is going to wrestle you to the very end,” Martin said. “Those types of kids are always dangerous. He’s just got a constant motor. I think he can make the finals and we expect him to make the finals.”
Up at 120, Montana DeLawder checks in at No. 6 for Gettysburg, while South Western’s Caleb Martz grabbed the eighth and final spot. Meanwhile, Jake Fetrow finds himself seeded third for the Warriors at 126 and Wyatt Hale snuck in at No.8 for the Mustangs.
“Wyatt Hale is a kid I look at who could be really dangerous despite his record,” Murren said. “You look at he’s 5-4 on the year, but he’s given some good guys really close matches, including a three-point loss to the second seed (Tyler Booker of Red Lion.”
At 132 pounds, Dalton Redden finds himself at No. 5 for the Warriors with Sam Dickmeyer at No. 7 for South Western, and at the next weight up all three schools after qualifiers.
Ethan Dalton will hope to make a run at a section title at 138 as he begins the tournament seeded second. He could well have sixth-seeded Cameron Herring of New Oxford in the semis, while South Western’s Bryson Coruzzi checks in at No. 8. Returning section champ Caden Dobbins of Dallastown is the top seed and holds a 16-0 tech fall win over Dalton earlier this season.
Moving to 145, Tyler Withers of Gettysburg and Connor Herring of New Oxford find themselves at Nos. 5 and 6 respectively, with the Mustangs’ Luke Dewees at No. 8. Herring enters the tournament on the five-match win streak, including a 7-6 decision over returning Class 2A state qualifier Ayden Dillon of Littlestown.
“Connor is wrestling well right now,” Martin said. “He got that winning streak going and obviously had a big win there over Littlestown. For him it’s just about confidence and he’s been wrestling with much more confidence of late and you’ve sort of seen the results of that.”
A year ago, Gettysburg’s Jared Townsend finished as the section runner-up at 145 pounds. He enters this year as the second seed looking to one-up that performance. He lost to top-seeded Jeremiah Smith of Central York 4-2 earlier this year. South Western’s Gavin Leitzel, seeded sixth, joins him in the bracket.
Up at 160 pounds, we’re set for a first-round matchup between area wrestlers, as second-seeded Jake Cherry of Gettysburg takes on seventh-seeded Joe Sprenkle of South Western. Top-seeded Ryan Fry of Red Lion did not compete in the Lions’ early season dual with the Warriors.
“Jacob Cherry is wrestling well and when he wrestles as well as he can, he can absolutely win the section,” Haines said. “Jake just needs to be more consistent and make sure he’s wrestling at that level each time he goes out there.”
A year ago, Gettysburg’s Nathan Ridgley took second in the section. Now up from 160 pounds to 172, Ridgley enters the tournament seeded third and will square off with sixth-seeded Owen Reed of South Western in the first round. They’re joined in the bracket by fifth-seeded Hunter Shaffer of New Oxford.
Max Gourley, on the back of a top-10 win over Timmy Smith of Central Dauphin, looks to defend his section crown at 189 pounds. In order to do so he’ll needed to once again beat second-seeded Brooks Gable of Dallastown, who squared off with No. 7 Elias Ernst of New Oxford in the opening round.
The most intriguing bracket of the tournament may come up at 215 pounds in an absolutely loaded field. Robert Utz of South Western bumps up from 189 to take the top seed at the weight. Utz took third a year ago despite being the top seed at 195. Also up from 189 is returning state qualifier Dylan Forbes of New Oxford, who comes into the tournament seeded second.
Both will have tough draws, as returning section runner-up Andrew Smith of Dallastown checks in at No. 3 and No. 4 is Gettysburg’s Sam Rodriguez, who is coming off a top-10 win over Central Dauphin’s Nathaniel Mosey and qualified for regionals a year ago.
“We anticipated both those guys would bump up,” Haines said of Utz and Forbes. “With how tough 189 is in the district it makes the most sense and ultimately it’s up to Sam. If he wrestles the way he can he’ll qualify for regionals again.”
Martin said that Forbes would have normally gone 195 for the season, but when the state dropped from 14 weights to 13 in the offseason it forced his hand a bit.
“Dylan is a natural 195, but he wasn’t really cutting to 189,” he said. “He’ll have a speed advantage on those guys up at 215 and he’s strong enough that we think he’ll be able to compete.”
Similarly, Murren said they’d planned for Utz to bump up for much of the season.
“It was always an option for him,” he said. “His weight class got wiped out at 195 and then it was just about where he feels more comfortable. He was able to grab the top spot which is nice, having beaten Smith and beaten Forbes and then Smith beat Rodriguez.”
Lastly, at heavyweight the top seed went to Gettysburg’s Trevor Gallagher, who could run into fifth-seeded Andrew Wysocki of South Western in the semifinals.
The Warriors also took home the team title last year at the section tournament and are looking to duplicate that performance this time around.
Clay Sauertieg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org