Franklin County wrestlers go 3-0 in PIAA first round

ForresterHERSHEY — The mystique of wrestling in the PIAA Championships at Giant Center in Hershey — the kind that gets your heart racing before your first match — hit Chambersburg freshman Tate Nichter hard Thursday evening.

But, no worries.

Nichter shrugged it off and went on to be the most impressive of three Franklin County winners in the first round. He rolled up a 21-5 technical fall in 3:54 against Logan Long of Central Mountain at 145 pounds.

Also taking victories were Trojan sophomore Luke Nichter at 170 and Shippensburg senior Cole Forrester at 220.

All three will wrestle in the PIAA Class 3A quarterfinals on Friday afternoon, with the session starting at 2:15.

“I was so nervous before the match — I shouldn’t be, but I was,” admitted the younger Nichter, who has already wrestled in plenty of big tournaments in his career. But the pressure of wrestling in states gets to everybody.

“The butterflies were there, but they went away once I hit that throw,” Nichter said.

Within the first 20 seconds of the bout, Nichter tied up both of Long’s arms and tossed him to his back for five points. Another takedown and a trade of reversals left Nichter ahead 9-3 after one.

The second period was a blitz of points — Nichter scored a reversal and back points, and twice took Long down to his back for four-point moves to end the bout six seconds before the period ended.

“I wasn’t real sure how the match was going to go, but I felt good after that first throw,” Nichter said.

Trojan coach Matt Mentzer said, “I was just glad to get him off the mat. That kid was looking for a pin, but Tate scored enough points to spread the score out.”

It was a different kind of story for his brother, sophomore Luke Nichter. Points were at a premium, but Nichter pulled out a 3-2 victory over Steven Newell of Dallas.

“I know it’s about winning here, but I wanted to perform better than that,” Nichter said. “I just didn’t do my stuff.”

With under a minute left in the first, Newell got in on a single leg, but Nichter countered, and after a scramble, was able to come out the back door for a takedown, which turned out to be huge.

Newell escaped in the second period and Nichter got out in the third, so he held a 3-1 lead with 1:05 remaining. He was able to hold off Newell on his feet, absorbing a stalling point at the buzzer.

“I got my hands in the right place so that he didn’t have an attack on me,” Nichter said, “but because of that I couldn’t work my stuff. I couldn’t get anything going off the ties.”

Mentzer said, “That kid was strong, but didn’t do a whole lot. Luke needs to get on the offense and initiate the action more. He felt he could score if the kid shot, but he can’t be just waiting for that.”

Forrester, despite earning a 12-4 major decision over John McCarthy of Delaware Valley, was also not happy with his performance.

“I’m kind of upset,” Forrester said. “I knew I should beat this guy, but I needed to perform better. I needed to score more points; I can’t let somebody slow me down like that.”

Forrester scored three takedowns in the first period — the last at the edge with 0:02 on the clock — to lead 6-2. A tilt for three points early in the second made it 9-2, but he gave up a reversal. The only points in the third were a penalty point for locked hands and a reversal for Forrester.

In Friday’s quarterfinals, Tate Nichter (29-9) will take on nationally-ranked Sammy Sasso of Nazareth (44-1), a defending state champion; Luke Nichter (36-6) will face Kyle Homet of Waynesburg (40-6), who defeated Nichter by a point at the Beast of the East on a caution point; and Forrester (35-0) will tangle with Jake Slinger of Upper St. Clair (34-3).

The area’s other state qualifier was Chambersburg senior Drake Brenize at 152. He wrestled in the preliminary round Thursday and was defeated 4-0 by Luke Kemerer of Hempfield Area.

Kemerer escaped in the second period and notched a single-leg takedown for a 3-0 lead. He rode Brenize for the final 3:40 of the match and picked up a late stalling point for a 4-0 victory.

Brenize, who finshed 32-9, then wrestled Stefahn Mayo of Muhlenberg in a consolation match and fell 1-0. He was ridden the entire second period, gave up an escape in the first five seconds of the third and could not complete a takedown, although he hit one deep single.

Mentzer said, “He was close to a takedown and nearfall on that one shot, but the other kid got to his ankles.”