Subscribe for 17¢ / day

HERSHEY — The wrestling venue and the format seem to mean little to Cumberland Valley’s handful of hammers right now. The Eagles’ top group is bent on continuing its season for another couple of weeks.

Cumberland Valley took the team-points lead after the first day of the District 3 Class 3A Wrestling Championships, led by five wrestlers who picked up two wins to earn berths in Friday evening’s semifinal round. The Eagles’ Patrick DeMark (106 pounds), Wyatt Long (132), Cal Reichart (145), Will Kaldes (152) and Quentin Milliken (160) all advanced.

Four of those guys are returning state qualifiers. DeMark, a freshman, is one win away from joining their club after wins over Conestoga Valley’s Andrew Dariychuk and Dallastown’s Cael Turnbull. He’ll face Cocalico junior Josiah Gehr, the bracket’s top seed, in the semifinals.

“He’s just a hardworking kid,” CV coach Dave Heckard said. “He has a tough one tomorrow, but he has a good mindset. I think we’re going to see him come out and perform tomorrow.”

One of the most intriguing of the Eagles’ semifinal matchups is at 160, where Milliken will face Penn Manor’s Jonah Barley. Milliken claimed a semifinal victory over Barley last year after the latter had entered the match with a 33-0 mark.

Danner starts to get comfortable

Matthew Danner knew he was dropping himself into a minefield when he elected to compete at 152 pounds in the postseason. That much was confirmed during the District 3 Section 3 Championships, when the returning state qualifier placed fourth.

“I wasn’t happy, but I knew it was a tough section,” Danner said. “The weight cuts have been a little rough for me this year. I started at 160 and wrestled a lot of 170 this season. I was big coming down for sectionals, and my body wasn’t adjusted yet. That’s no excuse, because I didn’t wrestle my best.”

With more time at the weight, and a break from wrestling his sectional brethren, the East Pennsboro senior looked strong Thursday. He picked up a 5-2 first-round win over Section I champ Tyler Harkness of Exeter, and followed that with a dominant 10-3 quarterfinal win over Warwick’s Luke Hirtzel.

The victories put Danner in Friday evening’s semifinals, where it’s the section tournament all over again. Danner will face CV’s Will Kaldes, while Mechanicsburg’s Brayden Wills and Chambersburg’s Drake Brenize meet in the other semifinal.

“I felt good coming in here,” Danner said. “I knew it wasn’t going to get any worse than that section. They’re tough kids and they fight hard, and it’s us four at the top.”

Forrester opens it up

Cole Forrester has been tested plenty this year — by Shippensburg’s tournament schedule, by heavyweight teammate Cameron Tinner, and by a bear of a Section 3 weight class that saw him place third behind Northern’s Jake Koser and Big Spring’s Blake Barrick.

All that seasoning paid off Friday, when Forrester claimed an 8-2 victory over Section 1 champ Dennis Karas of Exeter in the 195-pound quarterfinals. The junior led wire to wire, grabbing a 4-0 lead in the first period and never allowing Karas to generate any offense. It was the second time that Forrester had topped Karas this year — having beaten him at the season-opening Cumberland Valley tournament — but the first in which Forrester pushed the pace from the get-go.

“(Coach) has been preaching to me, as long as I open up he knows I can win,” Forrester said. “So the past few weeks I’ve just been working on opening up, getting my shots. I think that’s been the difference.”

The victory pushes Forrester into Friday’s semifinals, where he will get another crack at Barrick, who bested him in the ultimate tiebreaker period during the semifinals at sectionals. Koser will face Cocalico’s Ben Fromm in the top half of the bracket.