As the season draws on, two teams remain at the top of the Mid-Penn Keystone: Cedar Cliff and Northern.
The Colts sit at No. 1 with a record of 3-0 in the division and 7-1 overall, while the Polar Bears sit at an even 2-0, 2-0. Cedar Cliff took its only loss to Stroudsburg in the Battle of Bethlehem Duals on Dec. 9 and since then has gone on to battle in a flurry of tough tournaments in December, including Beast of the East and Powerade — where Donovon Ball placed seventh at 195.
Although the Colts aren’t the same team as last season’s District 3 Class 3A runner-up, they’re learning to trust the process. And with trusting the process comes some surprises, like winning a matchup against division contender Lower Dauphin last week. The win was valuable in the division standings.
“Eight dual meets, Beast of the East and Powerade — we were very busy as usual. Kids have done a nice job so far, especially with that aggressive of a schedule,” Colts head coach Rob Rapsey said this week. “We had some guys wrestle some very good matches and have things as always to work on. All part of the process. We have nine matches between Jan. 4 and Jan. 13, so we will know a little more about ourselves in the next week and a half.”
With a few kids missing out on the Powerade tournament due to being banged up or sick, Cedar Cliff will look to have them back for one of the biggest matchups of the season Thursday against Northern.
It looks like a division championship meet, with the dual-meet season nearing around the halfway point. Ball (195) and Polar Bear Jake Koser will be the big ones to watch in this, but expectations are they won’t square off.
Paul Feite (145) may matchup with Michael Cassidy, who is currently 4-1 on the season. At 152, Micah Hoffman may give the Colts some trouble going up against Marcus Vassar or Daniel Sigue. Cole Baer (113) and JJ Wilson (126) should have the light and middleweights locked down in the matchup for the Colts.
Contributor Brett Keener will be covering the matchup. For updates, follow him on Twitter @brett_keener.
Cedar Cliff also hosts the Bob Craig Duals on Saturday. Trinity will also be competing.
Carlisle still chugging
Carlisle currently sits 1-1, 1-1 (Commonwealth) as a team, but as individuals, the Thundering Herd have a couple faces that fans may see more than once in the postseason.
At Chambersburg’s Trojan Wars on Saturday, Carlisle’s goal was to come out of the tournament with more than a few medalists. The Herd did just that, toting Noah Clawson (106, seventh), Rafael Portilla (120, sixth), Logan Huff (152, seventh) and Dylan White (195, eighth) highlighting the holiday weekend for the Green and White.
Wrestlers have shown head coach Joe Wilson that they’re ready to put the work in and strive for a better outcome than the previous season, especially guys like Portilla.
“The Trojan Wars was a great event for us that allowed us to compete against state level competition in a local arena,” Wilson said this week. “Rafael was able to get redemption on a very good opponent from Shippensburg who had beaten him the previous two times they wrestled. Noah Clawson was pinned by a kid in Round 1 and then wrestled back and pinned him for seventh. Those are the things you look for at a mid-season tournament.”
The work still isn’t done for the Herd, but the progress so far is positive.
“There is still a lot for us to improve on going into the meat of our dual schedule, but the competition we saw there helps prepare us for the rest of the Commonwealth Division and prepares us for postseason,” Wilson said.
District 3 power rankings
Through Wednesday afternoon, here are some notable local teams in the playoff hunt.
Class 3A (16 teams qualify): No. 2 Northern, No. 10 Cedar Cliff, No. 11 Cumberland Valley, No. 14 Red Land, No. 21 Big Spring.
Class 2A (8 teams qualify): No. 3 Boiling Springs, No. 7 Camp Hill, No. 10 Trinity.