HERSHEY — Chambersburg sophomore Luke Nichter (pictured above) was feeling a little sense of deja vù on Saturday morning in his PIAA Class 3A wrestling semifinal.
He was tied 4-4 with Cade Wilson of Nazareth with time starting to run out in the third period.
Nichter earned a restart, then hit a granby roll and came through on top for a winning reversal with 23 seconds left for a 6-4 victory and a trip to tonight’s state finals.
“When I beat him last year (in a consolation round), it was 8-8 and I reversed him to his back for five points (and a 13-8 win),” Nichter said.
The victory places Nichter (38-6) into the 170-pound final tonight against defending state champion Trent Hidlay of Mifflin County (42-0). It will be a tall order — last year at states, Hidlay scored a tech fall against Nichter.
Franklin County’s other semifinalist, Cole Forrester of Shippensburg, suffered a frustrating loss at 220. Altoona’s Parker McClellan escaped in the second tiebreaker session for a 4-3 overtime win.
Nichter got on the board first against Wilson, getting in tight on a bearhug for a takedown with 16 seconds left in the first period. In the second, Wilson reversed, then Nichter reversed back to make it 4-2.
Wilson used a leg ride and power half to tie the match with a nearfall early in the third and was riding hard with legs. But once Nichter got out of bounds for a restart he knew what he had to do.
“I needed a good start so he couldn’t get his leg in,” he said.
He did, and once he got the winning reversal, he had Wilson in a turks and rode him out.
“It was like last year,” Nichter said. “I had a turks then, too. The difference was I turned him last year, and this year (with only 20 seconds left) I didn’t want to push too hard for it, so I just sat there.”
Nichter was confident he could beat Wilson again, but he said, “You always have doubts, but I believed in myself.”
Forrester couldn’t get his offense going against the long and tall McClellan. He also didn’t seem to have his usual gusto. It turns out, he’s been sick all week and the energy level just wasn’t there.
“He just didn’t have the same gas he usually does,” Greyhound coach Tony Yaniello said. “He wasn’t able to take it to them. I think the first two matches took their toll on him. He still had a match that could have gone either way, but that was not the real Cole out there.”
The biggest move in the bout came with 50 seconds left in the first, when McClellan hit a sharp ankle pick for a takedown. An escape to start the third gave McClellan a 3-2 lead and he nursed it until he was hit with a second stalling call with 0:12 left to tie the bout, 3-3.
After a scoreless sudden victory period, Forrester took down, but could not break McClellan’s ride. In the second rideout period, McClellan escaped with 13 seconds left and stayed away for the victory.
In his consolation round match, Forrester took on Exeter Township’s Dennis Karas, and came through with a 7-3 victory. That pushed him into the match for third place tonight, when he will face Greg Bensley of Pocono Mountain West.