Trojans’ Nichter cruises into PIAA wrestling semifinals

PIAA Nichter 2

Luke Nichter, top, gets ready to turn Nazareth’s Connor Herceg to his back during their 160-pound quarterfinal bout at the PIAA Championships on Friday afternoon. Nichter won the match 8-3 to reach the semifinals. (Photo by Ed Gotwals)

HERSHEY — Similar opponents, and a similar result.

For the second day in a row, Chambersburg’s Luke Nichter faced a strong, barrel-chested Division I recruit at the PIAA Class 3A Wrestling Championships in the 160-pound bracket.

For for the second time, Nichter prevailed, this time 8-3 over Connor Herceg of Nazareth.

That pushed the Trojan senior (41-5) into the semifinal round, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Giant Center. He will face Kiski Area’s Jack Blumer (38-2).

The win also guaranteed a PIAA medal for Nichter, which will be the fourth of his career. He is the first Trojan to accomplish that impressive feat, and he already holds school records for pins and career wins.

“It was almost the same kind of match as last night,” Chambersburg coach Matt Mentzer said. “A really good kid who’s going to Lehigh, and he’s coached by probably the best coach in the state (Dave Crowell), but Luke found a way to win.”

Nichter said, “I wrestle with Tate (his brother) all the time and he’s got the same build as these guys. It all comes down to a lot of positioning and hand fighting, and you’re not going to get many opportunities to score, so you’d better score when you do.”

Nichter never trailed in the bout after he connected on a takedown in the first period, but what made the difference was a second-period nearfall on a spladle that tacked on three points.

“I wrestled him last year (at the Beast of the East),” Nichter said, “and I put him on his back in that match. But he was looking for what I used then, so I had to go to something different. I thought there was a good chance I could get something.”

He put a leg ride in, grabbed Herceg’s leg and pulled him onto his back. After the nearfall was awarded, Herceg rolled through for a reversal, then immediately let Nichter up to make it 6-3 after two periods.

Herceg gave Nichter an escape to begin the third, but then lost another point for unnecessary roughness when he head-butted Nichter, who now sports a purple half moon under his left eye.

Nichter was able to hold Herceg off the rest of the period with no further scoring.

Mentzer said, “Those back points came at a key point in the match. And when he went up 8-3, Herceg had to be thinking he’d have to put Luke on his back or take him down three or four times, and I think he was frustrated by that.”

Shippensburg senior Dylan Ramsey also competed Friday in the wrestlebacks at 132 pounds. He took on Jordan Watters of West Allegheny in the second round and was defeated 2-0 to end his season with a 32-12 record.

After a scoreless first period, Ramsey rode Watters in legs for a minute before Watters was able to shake him off for a reversal and 2-0 lead.

In the final 15 seconds, Ramsey was able to lock up Watters in a cradle from the bottom position, but Watters maintained control of Ramsey’s leg and prevented Ramsey from turning him.