DISTRICT THREE WRESTLING: Ready to take that giant step - LancasterOnline: Sports

DISTRICT THREE WRESTLING: Ready to take that giant step

Haines, Moran best bets for gold medals

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Posted: Thursday, February 23, 2012 11:23 pm | Updated: 2:26 pm, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

The quest to become a Pennsylvania state champion continues this weekend at the Hersheypark Arena as 67 Lancaster County wrestlers - 50 in Class AAA, 17 in Class AA - compete in the District Three Championships.

The top three place-finishers in the Class AAA tournament, which is also the South Central Regional Championship, move on to the state tournament, March 8-10 at Hershey's Giant Center.

The top five placewinners in Class AA advance to the PIAA South East Regional next weekend at Wilson High School, the final step before states.

Preliminary and quarterfinal rounds in both Class AAA and AA will go off Friday with AA beginning at 10 a.m. and AAA at 3:15 p.m.

Wrestling continues Saturday with the AA semifinals at 9 a.m., followed by AAA semis at 10:15.

Third- and fifth-place consolations finals in AA are set for 1:15 p.m., followed by AAA third-place matches at 2.

The AAA and AA finals will be held side-by-side, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The cold, hard truth is this edition of AAA districts will once again be Mid-Penn-centric. But Lancaster County wrestling will get its opportunities.

The best bets to win titles this weekend are, not surprisingly, the county's most-experienced state-level wrestlers: Solanco's returning state champion Thomas Haines and state medalist Connor Moran.

Both are returning district runners-up.

The only title denied Haines on last year's march to the state gold was districts as East Pennsboro's Zach Nye shaded him 3-2 for the championship.

Spring Grove's Neal Grudi prevailed 5-2 over Moran in the 171-pound final.

The top seed at 220, Haines (34-0) will likely face Palmyra's Ben Martin (30-2) or Mechanicsburg's Bryton Barr (31-4) in the finals.

Like Haines, Moran (35-3) is the top seed and is the only returning placewinner at 170.

A semifinal meeting with Garden Spot's Ben Swarr (38-2) is not out of the question, with Mechanicsburg's Joey Krulock (30-3) a likely finals opponent.

Several countians will at the least get to the semifinals with the best bets Manheim Township's Cortlandt Schuyler at 120, Solanco's Joe Welk at 152, both third seeds, and Lampeter-Strasburg's fourth-seeded Jeff Pickel at 195.

Schuyler (32-4) should meet Muhlenberg's unbeaten Zach Snow in the semifinals at 120.

Welk (33-5) has a semifinal date with Mechanicsburg's Rustin Barrick (33-5) in a bracket that includes Garden Spot's Tanner Leid (26-8).

In the other half of the draw at '52, Cocalico's Teddy Wolf (36-3) goes head-to-head with Conestoga Valley's J.P. Kramer (26-14) right out of the chute, looking at a semifinal match with Central Dauphin's Garrett Peppelman (40-4).

Bracketed with South Western's Jerome Beers, Pickel (31-2) pulls a first-rounder with Cumberland Valley's Dennis Zaitsev (21-4). Beers (25-3) begins his tournament with McCaskey's CaTray Parker (28-9).

In addition to the Wolf-Kramer match, several more county wrestlers pair off in the first round.

Garden Spot's Tim Beegle (29-10) and Manheim Central's Cody Bucher (23-15) meet in the upper bracket at 132, where one also finds Solanco's Wink Charles (33-7) and top-seeded Shyheim Brown (40-2) of Central Dauphin.

Township's Adam Smith (28-4) and Garden Spot's Will Finkey (18-8) kick off the action at 138. Elizabethtown's Jeremy Rivera (15-6) is in their half of the draw.

The Bears' Troy Ernest (20-6) and the Spartans' Rob King (32-8) meet for the right to face Chambersburg's returning district and state runner-up Garett Hammond (31-4) in the 145-pound quarters. Waiting in the semis will be Ephrata's Mike Lammer (25-3).

One weight class, 126, is Lanco laden.

Garden Spot's Nick Cook (32-4), E-town's Owen Bradley (24-6) and Conestoga Valley's Nate Musser (31-8) load the bottom bracket at 126, with Township's Scott Lopez (24-5) and Central's Ben Metzler (31-10) in the top bracket with returning champ Tyson Dippery (41-2) of Central Dauphin.

Cocalico's Kam Mueller (34-4) is in the bottom bracket at 182 with Elco's unbeaten No. 2 seed Dylan Hickernell (39-0).

Sharing a weight class with defending state champion Avree Robinson (35-2) of Susquehanna Township and returning state runner-up Dawson Peck (6-0) of Chambersburg may be a burden, but it's a burden Warwick's Tom Devenney (29-2) will gladly assume, bracketed with Peck and opposite Robinson.

•••

Talk about crowded. Seven of the 12 competitors at 138 in Class AA are returning placewinners. One of whom is Pequea Valley's Drew Jackson.

Jackson (32-4), who took fifth at 130 last year, is bracketed with Columbia's Jordan Halter (34-6), third at 135, Oley Valley's Cody Kelley (22-14), fifth at 112, and Hanover's Tyler Shafer (22-8), fifth at 125.

In the bottom half of the bracket, Milton Hershey's Sharron Townsend (33-2), last year's 140-pound champion, sits with Eastern York's Donald Minnier (28-5), fifth at 135, and Wyomissing's Mason Smith (27-7), sixth at 130. Look for a Jackson-Townsend final.

PV's Mitchell Ball, who won a district title here two years ago, is bracketed with Bermudian Springs' Tyler Fitzkee (39-3), the returning runner-up and hurdle between Ball (33-4) and another shot at Brandywine Heights' Adam Mackie (29-1). Mackie was a fourth-place finisher at 152 in 2011.

While Jackson and Ball are the best local bets for the finals, several others are in the mix for advancement to regionals including PV's Chris Schmid (31-10) and Columbia's Josh Elliot (18-10) at 145; Catholic's Stephen Loiseau (31-6) at 152 and Isiah Taltoan (28-4) at 170 and Pequea's Jon Ross (24-12) at 182.

The local entry of Jordan Crouse (22-15) of Pequea Valley and Catholic's Evan Schnader (19-7) could make a little noise in the always volatile 285-pound class.

dbyrne@lnpnews.com

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