Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Bulldogs nip Solanco, 28-27
BY DUSTIN LEED, Sports Staff
Mike Hafer didn't want it any other way.
A chance to propel his team to the District Three Class AAA Wrestling Team Tournament quarterfinals rested directly on his shoulders.
"My mindset entering the last match was to keep calm," Hafer said. "I knew what I had to do and I needed to get that win."
Hafer recorded the match-deciding victory and Hunter Hatlee won a key decision at 285 pounds as No. 15 Wilson upset No. 2 Solanco and handed the Golden Mules their first dual-meet loss of the season, 28-27, in the opening round Tuesday night in Quarryville.
Wilson (14-5) also advanced to the semifinals after beating Mechanicsburg (8-4), 41-21, later Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs will meet Chambersburg (16-3) on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Central Dauphin.
"I like being in that spot (with the pressure on me)," Hafer said. "You kind of open up a little bit more and wrestle a better match when you're in a position like that."
With Wilson trailing the match 27-25, the junior recorded two key takedowns against Solanco's Kody Hart en route to a 4-1 decision at 138 pounds.
"(Entering the last match) you're just trying to coach them, be positive and see what happens," Solanco coach John Little said. "It's out of your hands; you just try to be encouraging."
"You move on (from the loss) and take the good with the bad," Little added. "I always say it's peaks and valleys (throughout a season), you keep training and trying to instill good habits in kids, positive thinking and try to prepare (for what's next)."
Solanco's Kyle Hammond recorded a 3-1 decision over Jake Yancey at 145 pounds to start the match and 152-pound L-L League champion Isaac Warren recorded a fall over Bryce Pych for an early 9-0 Solanco lead.
Wilson responded by winning the next four bouts via decisions from Parker Eidle (160), Adam Brown (170), Isaac Schannauer (195), plus an Andy Francos (182) pin for a 15-9 lead.
"I don't think we wrestled bad," Little said. "But it was just one of those nights.
"They have a very solid team the whole way through and we have some places where we are weaker and they just capitalized on it."
Solanco's Thomas Haines recorded a 40-second fall over Harry Destine at 220, but ultimately it was the Bulldogs that benefited. Wilson won the coin toss before the match and kept Hatlee (27-2) away from Haines by moving him up a weight class to face Bo Spiller (24-5) at 285.
"(Hatlee-Spiller) was definitely a key point in the match," Little said. "Bo's been having a very successful season, but obviously they didn't want to wrestle Haines. It looked like it was going to go our way at the beginning, but Hatlee hung in there."
Hatlee recorded a key takedown and won 4-3 in a difference-making bout.
"(Hatlee) really rode well on top," Little added. "He was in good position and kept things broken down. It was a critical match right there."
Solanco's Connor Sheehan (26-4) won by forfeit at 106, Austin Laws held on for a 6-5 decision and Alec Proffit won 8-7 to hike the Mule lead to 27-18 after 120 pounds.
The Bulldogs closed to 27-25 following Jacob Werner's major decision over Wyatt Jennings and Bryan Muchoney's 8-1 decision over Dalton Groff before Hafer sealed the victory.
"We'll keep training, be positive and hit the weights a little harder and try to tweak these guys and get them ready to go for the sectional tournament," Little said.
"Every match, every tournament is a learning experience," Little added. "You never try to get too high on the highs and too low on the lows.
"We're grateful we have these opportunities."