By Tom Fox, Lock Haven Express
Special to MaxPreps.com
HERSHEY, Pa. – When you look up and down the Central Dauphin wrestling lineup, it’s hard to pick out a weak spot.
It’s total balance. From 103 to 160, the chances of pulling out a victory are slim to none. If you are going to catch the Rams, it’s got to be in the heavyweights, from 171 to 285.
But when the big lights were shining brightly at Hershey’s Giant Center, the heavyweights performed brilliantly, and the remainder of the Rams did their jobs.
Central Dauphin, champions of District 3, continued its reign on the wrestling world by capturing the 2008 PIAA Class AAA team wrestling championship last weekend. The Rams took out two undefeated teams en route to the title. CD knocked off undefeated District 6 champion Central Mountain in the semifinals; in the finals, it pulled away from District 11 champ Northampton.
It was the second consecutive team honor for Central Dauphin as it took top honors away from the 2007 PIAA Individual Tournament.
“Two state championships in two straight state tournaments," CD coach Jeff Sweigard told the Harrisburg Patriot. “I can get used to this.”
In the semifinals, Central Dauphin ripped through Central Mountain, winning 10 of the 14 bouts. It was a smart coaching decision on Sweigard's behalf that helped fuel the win as he moved the talented Peppelman brothers up a weight class, keeping them away from CM’s Alton brothers.
The move paid off as it got CD out to a quick 11-0 lead and the Rams never looked back. In fact, CD held a 44-10 lead before the two Altons took to the mat.
“I would have liked to see the Altons and Peppelman at this point of the season, but you can’t blame him,” CM coach Doug Buckwalter said. “He is trying to get as many points as possible and by moving the Peppelmans up, he got momentum on his side.”
In the finals, Northampton jumped out to a fast lead on Central Dauphin, up 14 points four matches into the contest. But heavyweight Nick Stewart hit two, five-point moves to climb out of a 7-1 hole and win the crucial bout, 13-11.
And when the match was on the line, big gun Walter Peppelman decked his opponent in a mere 38 seconds to secure CD’s first dual-meet championship.
“I'm very proud of this team, this group of guys," Peppelman said to the Harrisburg Patriot. “It's totally different than winning the individual title because every wrestler is completely involved in this.”
Wrestling: Burrell Wins Class AA Title, Derails Reynolds
For District 7 champ Burrell, the real title match may have come in the semifinals.
Standing in the way was District 10 power Reynolds, which brought a 50-plus dual meet winning streak in.
Reynolds had been unstoppable…until Saturday.
Burrell slipped by, earning a spot in the PIAA Class AA Team Championship finals against District 3 champion Bermudian Springs. The Buccaneers rallied from a 23-15 deficit, won five of the final six matchups and earned a 37-29 victory to give the WPIAL school its first ever state championship.
“Our wrestlers dug down and overcame some tough odds," Burrell coach Chris Como told the Harrisburg Patriot. “They fought through the adversity. The Reynolds match was emotionally draining. It came right down to the end, but you must beat the champ to be the champ.”
The Reynolds-Burrell match caught everyone’s eyes at the Giant Center as it was the only match left during the 11 a.m. semifinal round.
In a tight match, Jordan Shields, coming in with only one loss, defeated Reynolds’ Luke Taylor to advance to Bucs into the final.
Boys Basketball: Playoffs Begin in District 4
The brackets have been released and playoffs are scheduled to begin in District 4 Tuesday, weather permitting.
The boys’ Class AAA and Class AA races should be the most interesting.
In Triple-A, the story has been the resurgence of power Shamokin Area. The Indians, out of the Coal Region, had been going through a few down years, but have the ship heading in the right direction.
The Indians are the No. 1 seed and face the winner of Central Columbia vs. Jersey Shore game.
The No. 2 seed is Milton and all-state player Tony Fannick, Jr. The Black Panthers draw Brantley Osborne and the Shikellamy Braves, a dangerous No. 7 seed.
Other teams in the bracket are Montoursville, Danville, Selinsgrove and Athens.
In Class AA, the real story is the play of No. 5 seed Southern Columbia. The Tigers played half the season without star Colin Klebon and were on the verge of missing the postseason. Klebon returned, and the Tigers are looking for another trip to the state bracket.
If the Tigers get past a Coal Region matchup with Mount Carmel Area in the first round, standing next is No. 1 seed Hughesville, which almost upset top-ranked Prep Charter earlier this season.
The two and three seeds in the bracket are from the Northern Tier in Wyalusing and Wellsboro.
Girls Basketball: District 6 Class AAAA Still Up in the Air
The matchups played out. There were a few surprises. And there still isn’t a clear-cut No. 1 seed for the upcoming District 6 Class AAAA playoffs.
Hollidaysburg beat State College.
State College beat Central Mountain.
And the Lady Wildcats lost their bid for a perfect season the night before as Class AA Penns Valley pulled off the 53-51 win after trailing by seven points with 1:44 left.
The only known is that Altoona will enter the four-team bracket as the fourth seed. The other three are still up in the air as the district won’t release the bracket until later in the week. The two semifinals are tentatively scheduled to be held on Saturday at Bellefonte High School in Centre County.
Basketball: Mild Upsets in District 3
The basketball playoffs have begun in District 3 and there has been some mild upsets, mostly in the Quad-A bracket.
On the boys’ Class AAAA side, No. 18 Harrisburg beat No. 15 Chambersburg by six, advancing them to the next round. Also, No. 19 Wilson whacked No. 14 Cocalico by 20.
In girls’ Quad-A, No. 18 Central York got by South Western by five, and in Class AAA Susquenita tripped up Big Spring.
The higher seeds begin play this week. The top boys’ seeds are Reading, Susquehanna Township, Columbia and Scotland. The top girls’ seeds are Wilson, Lampeter-Strasburg, Trinity and Berks Christian.
Tom Fox is Sports Editor of the Lock Haven (Pa.) Express. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org