Dallastown keeps Spring-Ford from return trip to Hershey in PIAA duals opener – PA Prep Live

UPPER PROVIDENCE >> It’s the most make-or-break phase of state duals competition.

The preliminary round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class AAA competition offers the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows to competing teams. For the winner, joining the main body of the tournament field at Hershey’s Giant Center is incentive in its own right; for the loser, the single-elimination aspect brings an abrupt end to all the hopes fostered by the district-duals prelude.

The latter was the case for Spring-Ford from Monday’s hosting of Dallastown in the prelim. The Rams, frequent qualifiers for the Hershey phase in recent years, literally found themselves short of the Wildcats, 30-27, off a third-place showing in District 1.

The locals, even with a 15-point start and the lead through the first eight weight classes, couldn’t hold off Dallastown’s late charge. The District 3 fourth seed (19-3) flexed its muscle in the upper weights, a 19-point run between 152 and 189 putting it in the lead for keeps.

“We certainly welcome the opportunity to wrestle at Hershey,” head coach Dave Gable said afterward. “We wrestled Spring-Ford at states two years ago, and we lost to them (37-28), so we know they’re a quality opponent.”

The Rams (15-5), coming off a third-place finish in District 1 Saturday, are one year removed from a third-place finish in states were in the hunt until the ‘Cats got a major decision from Hunter Bisking at 285, one that staked the visitors’ lead to 30-23. An 11-2 major decision of Aiden Karlie by Gus Smith (23-7) could do little more than close the final gap to three points.

“It’s big being a part of the state tournament,” SF head coach Tim Seislove said. “I’m really disappointed for our seniors, not being able to get them back to Hershey.”

Even while spotting the Rams a forfeit to Cole Smith in the 113-pound opener, Dallastown overcame the early deficit by taking six of seven weights between 132 and 189. Five of the wins featured bonus points: One pin, a technical fall and three “ majors” that worked to give the Wildcats a 26-20 lead.

“The upper weights have been sound for us this year,” Gable noted. “But we have a balanced attack. Whenever we need somebody to do it, someone always seems to step up.”

Following the forfeit at 113, Spring-Ford got a pin from Dominic Ortlip (21-9) six seconds before the end of the first period at 120. Quinn Smith (31-4) then gritted out a 3-2 decision on Zach Luckenbaugh at 126 for what ended up being the Rams’ biggest lead of the match.

Anthony Carulli (14-5 major) and Owen Bricker (8-4 regular) got the ‘Cats on the scoreboard before the Rams’ Ryan Lepore (26-8) responded with a 17-2 technical fall of Evan Baldwin at 145. But Dallastown used Caden Dobbins’ tech-fall at 152 and “majors” from Ashton Deller and Isaiah Feeney at 160 and 172, respectively, to force a 20-20 tie.

“Both teams got their share of bonus points,” Gable noted. “We just got more.”

Michael Klinger’s 58-second pin at 189 got Dallastown its first lead of the night, 26-20. Kyle Huston (20-6) answered with a 7-4 decision to halve, the Wildcats’ lead, but Bisking’s 10-1 major decision at 285 clinched the win for the visitors.

Dallastown’s first opponent at Hershey’s Giant Center Thursday will be Waynesburg Central, the District 7 champion sporting a 16-0 record.

“They’re a tough foe,” Gable noted. “But we welcome the opportunity to compete and continue our season.

Spring-Ford comes right back from the loss to visit Wilson-West Lawn in a non-league match Tuesday. It will then visit Pottsgrove Wednesday for a crossover featuring two of the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s teams atop the Liberty and Frontier Divisions.

“The kids say they’d rather have matches than practice,” Seislove said.

NOTES >> Dallastown’s fourth-place finish in District 3 came at the hands of Cumberland Valley, to whom it lost twice in the course of the tournament. Their quarterfinal match ended up 32-28, and their final 31-28. … Gable discounted the significance of his team forfeiting to Spring-Ford’s Cole Smith (22-2) at 113. “Their 13-pounder is good,” he said.

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