Wednesday afternoon, the Saegertown wrestling team waved good-bye to their fans, hopped on the bus and headed east to where no Saegertown wrestling team has gone before — the PIAA team dual championships.
It’s an exciting time to be a Panther.
“How many times in your life do you have an opportunity to do something nobody else has done before?” asked Saegertown head coach Jim Mulligan. “That’s what they’re doing. No Saegertown team has made it to states. It didn’t happen when I wrestled.”
“And,” he added, “for these kids that will never make it to the state tournament on their own, what a great experience it will be for our team.”
Saegertown, which owns a dual match record of 12-5, will get its state run underway at 4 p.m. today at The Giant Center in Hershey, taking on Boiling Springs in the first round.
The Panthers advanced to the big show with a narrow 33-29 win over Brookville in a preliminary round dual at Brookville High School on Monday.
Brookville came into the match with a record of 20-3 and was ranked No. 8 in the state according to Off The Mat. Saegertown was ranked 16th. And the Raiders had already beaten the Panthers earlier this season at the Brookville Ultimate Duals, 33-29.
Monday, the Panthers turned the tables, getting key pins from Nick Monico at 126, Jeremy Mitchell at 170 and Dylan Reynolds at 195; as well as a huge overtime decision by Matt Humes at 138.
“Every kid wrestled really, really great,” said Mulligan.
In the latest Off The Mat rankings, Saegertown bump-ed up two spots to No. 14. Brookville is right behind the Panthers at 15.
As the third seed from District 10, Saegertown got a tough draw with Boiling Springs. The Bubblers won this year’s District 3 title after defeating Bermudian Springs in the championship match. The teams ended the dual in a 31-31 tie. Boiling Springs got the win via criteria, having won eight bouts to Bermu-dian’s six.
The Bubblers — coached by Lakeview alum and three-time PIAA champion Rodney Wright — enter as the third-ranked team in the state.
“Boiling Springs, they’re tough,” said Mulligan. “In fact, we seen them at Tool City. They’re a great team.”
Boiling Springs and Saegertown only crossed paths a few times at Tool City. In the 195 pound quarterfinals, the Bubblers’ Nate Gouhin decisioned Saeger-town’s Brock Henderson 3-1 in overtime.
In the consolations at 132, Boiling Springs’ Andrew Mellott scored a 19-4 technical fall over the Panthers’ Garrett Zuver.
Saegertown got its lone win over Boiling Springs when Andrew Boylan notched a 6-4 decision over Connor Murphy in a 160-pound wrestle-back.
Both teams will enter with four state-ranked wrestlers each. And a couple of them could come face to face in today’s dual.
Boiling Springs’ Korbin Myers is ranked No. 1 at 113 pounds while Saeger-town’s Tyler Vath is ranked sixth in the same weight class. And Kyle Shoop of Boiling Springs is ranked 10th at 126 while Saegertown’s Nick Monico is ranked 15th.
Saegertown also possesses the second-ranked 106-poun-der in the state in Devin Brown and the 10th-ranked 182 pounder in Dylan Reynolds.
Meanwhile, Boiling Spri-ngs boasts the 8th-ranked 120-pounder in Grant Bond and the 10th-ranked 152-pounder in John Vaughn.
Of Saegertown’s four state-ranked wrestlers, each one is an underclassman. Monico is a freshman while Brown, Vath and Reynolds are all sophomores.
Wrestling in the spotlight at states should prove to be invaluable experience for those four and for the rest of Saegertown’s young team.
“This is great momentum rolling for us,” said Mulligan. “We’re still a pretty young team. (Against Brookville) we started seven sophomores, a freshman and a junior. So this is big for us.”