HERSHEY >> So often in Spring-Ford’s run in the team duals tournaments were the Rams able to win enough swing matches to get the win.
Saturday, in the fourth round of consolations in the Class 3A PIAA Duals, Spring-Ford felt the other edge of the sword.
The Rams came up short in four pivotal bouts and were eliminated by Canon McMillan, 39-26.
Despite the loss, Spring-Ford (20-6) walked out of the Giant Center in Hershey, heads held high.
“We’re disappointed because we thought we could’ve kept it closer and maybe beat them,” Spring-Ford senior Dirk Nugent said. “To get to Saturday is a tremendous accomplishment, though, and we’re proud of what we’ve done.”
Nugent (152 pounds), who was 3-1 on the weekend despite being outscored 15-13, scored the only takedown of the bout with 25 seconds left to get the Rams on the board first.
Xavier Cushman (160) was on his way to expanding Spring-Ford’s lead, up 8-2, when he was headlocked and pinned with 10 seconds left in the match.
“Dirk started us off with a good, close match,” Spring-Ford coach Tim Seislove said. “At this level, against quality kids, you can’t make mistakes. We made a couple mistakes in close matches, but I’m proud of the way the kids wrestled.”
The lead seesawed with Chase Smith (170) pinning for the Rams, Garrett Nijenhuis (182) pinning for Canon Mac, and Joey Milano (195) winning by major for Spring-Ford.
It was then the Big Macs went on their run. They won six straight from 285 to 126, including three decisions by a total of four points.
Senior Shane Reynolds (113) dropped a 3-1 decision in sudden victory and junior Quinn Tobin (120) saw a late lead evaporate in a 6-5 loss.
Tobin scored 16 team points in three wins before Saturday’s loss to Jimmy Baxter, who is ranked No. 8 at 113 on papowerwrestling.com. Tobin is now 26-6 after a 16-18 sophomore season.
“Quinn has improved so much, not just in wins and losses, but with his work ethic,” Seislove said. “He’s in every morning at six and doing extras has been paying off for him. I’m excited to see him in the postseason.”
The Rams won the final three bouts, but by then the contest was decided. Spring-Ford travels to Coatesville on Wednesday to conclude its regular season, and then the focus will shift solely to the individual postseason that begins February 22.
“The biggest thing is this shows you where you’re at and what you need to work on,” Nugent said of the state duals experience. “A lot of guys wrestled some of the top guys in the state and it shows us where we need to work and improve on. It’s nice seeing what the competition is like when you’re competing at the highest level.”
Five Rams — Reynolds, Tobin, Jack McGill (138), Smith and Milano — are ranked in the top five of the District 1 rankings on pa-wrestling.com and expect to be in the mix for a top five spot to states next month.
Milano, who was injured the week before districts last year and could not compete, is now 34-2 on the season with bonus points in 30 of those wins.
“I feel good this year,” Milano said. “Everything is good with my knee. I’m just ready to wrestle and come back (to Hershey).”
The elimination of the league tournaments as a postseason qualifier in District 1 this season will allow the Rams to heal up a bit and press on.
“We can’t focus on being (in Hershey) next month,” Seislove said. “We need to focus on doing the right things — doing well in school, practicing hard and eating right. We need to focus on every day and everything else will fall into place.”
Canon McMillan 39, Spring-Ford 26
152- Nugent (SF) dec. Joseph, 3-2 (0-3)
160- Shanahan (CM) pinned Cushman, 4:50 (6-3)
170- Smith (SF) pinned Rohaley, :47 (6-9)
182- Nijenhuis (CM) pinned Francis, 1:37 (12-9)
195- Milano (SF) maj. dec. Miller, 13-0 (12-13)
220- Hendal (CM) pinned Carbajal, 1:47 (18-12)*
285- Ramos (CM) dec. Brogan, 1-0 (21-12)
106- Houpt (CM) pinned Ortlip, 2:29 (27-12)
113- Moore (CM) dec. Reynolds, 3-1 SV (30-12)
120- Baxter (CM) dec. Tobin, 6-5 (33-12)
126- Hayman (CM) pinned Cieri, 1:22 (39-12)
132- Johns (SF) dec. O’Donoghue, 3-0 (39-15)
138- McGill (SF) pinned Phillips, 1:26 (39-21)
145- Needles (SF) tech. fall Mizenko, 3:50 (39-26)
*Spring-Ford was penalized a team point for throwing headgear.
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