Luke Nichter, Cole Forrester earn District 3 mat titles

Cole Forrester D3HERSHEY — You could say it was a bloody good show for Shippensburg’s Cole Forrester.

Wrestling in the 220-pound championship match of the District 3 Class 3A tournament at Giant Center on Saturday, Forrester turned in a solid 9-4 decision over Exeter Township’s Dennis Karas in a bout that took a long time to complete because Karas suffered a cut on his face.

Franklin County’s other district champion was Chambersburg sophomore Luke Nichter at 170. A runner-up last year, Nichter scored a commanding 10-3 victory over Solanco’s Ben Root.

The area’s other finalist, Trojan freshman Tate Nichter, was beaten 3-1 by Northern York’s Micah Hoffman at 145. Chambersburg’s Drake Brenize placed fourth at 152, teammates Cole Grove (126) and Seth Runshaw (132) were sixth, Ship’s Jeffery Russell was fifth at 113 and David Henke of Waynesboro was sixth at 285.

Forrester led Karas 2-1 in the first period when, on a shot, the back of Forrester’s head banged into Karas’ face just above his right eye and a cut split open, spilling blood on the mat.

“I actually heard it (hitting the mat),” Forrester said. “It was kind of disgusting.”

The trainers did their best to stem the bleeding, wrapping a bandage around Karas’ head, and he was able to continue. But they had to stop the match three more times to clean up.

“That was probably the longest match I’ve been in,” Forrester said.

But satisfying nonetheless. He ended up taking Karas down four times, but the third was the clincher. Leading 5-3, Forrester put a front headlock on Karas, then picked his far ankle for two points.

Forrester (34-0), a senior, said, “I was so pumped up because I wanted this win so bad. I couldn’t worry what was happening to him, I just had to stick with my game plan.”

Luke Nichter D3Luke Nichter, now 35-6, took on once-beaten Root and was superior on his feet. A single-leg re-shot was converted at the edge of the mat for an early lead, and another single shot in the second made it 4-2 after two.

“I started a little slow, just trying to feel him out a little,” Nichter said. “He made a mistake coming up and I got my shot in. I feel confident on the edge — I tried to take my time instead of just diving on him.”

In the third, Nichter escaped, then caught Root in a cradle for a takedown and eventually a clinching three-point nearfall.

“Sometimes I can get that against good kids,” Nichter said. “I can sit at the corner and then hit the cradle. He had a bad shot and I took advantage.”

Trojan coach Matt Mentzer said, “Luke wrestled a great match against a strong and experienced kid. He scored early when he had to, and countered well at the end.”

Tate Nichter and Hoffman wrestled a very strategic match; they know each other pretty well. Nichter was in twice on single-leg attacks, but Hoffman was able to ward him off and turned the second one into the deciding takedown in the third period.

“I was expecting it to be a one- or two-point match,” Nichter said. “His body style (taller than Nichter) and experience made a difference. There’s a lot more scramble stuff at the high school level.

“I just can’t get ridden out in the second period — I’ll have to work on that.”

Mentzer said, “Hoffman is a funky wrestler and he’s hard to finish against. He finds ways to win.”

In a third-place match, Brenize simply could not get in on the legs of Gettysburg’s Dylan Reinert, and a Reinert takedown with two seconds left in the first gave him a 3-1 win.

Grove fell 7-0 to Cumberland Valley’s Cade Reichart, giving up all seven points in the final two periods on tilts. Runshaw was tied 2-2 with Jared Bair of New Oxford in the third period, but when Runshaw countered a Bair shot, Bair rocked him back and scored a pin.

Russell built a 4-0 lead on the strength of two takedowns, then held off Arik Harnish of Lampeter-Strasburg, 4-2. Henke trailed only 1-0 in the third period vs. Raymond Christas of Dallastown before Christas turned him for a fall in 4:38.

Both Nichters, Brenize and Forrester have qualified for the PIAA Tournament, which is March 8-10 at Giant Center.

The Trojans finished fifth in the team standings with 82.5 points. Shippensburg was tied for 14th with Warwick.