NEW OXFORD - It's a phrase any coach loves to hear about his team -- that it has big-game experience.
Spring Grove has it and displayed it Thursday night with a 37-31 triumph over New Oxford before a packed house that saw the visiting Rockets hand New Oxford (7-1 league) its first league loss and move a step closer to another York-Adams League Division I wrestling title.
Spring Grove (8-0 league, 17-1 overall), which hasn't lost in the league since 2009, and New Oxford each won seven individual bouts. But the Rockets won five of six weight classes from 120 through 152 after the match started at 170 pounds to earn the hard-fought victory.
"I told the kids that this is what they had to do in several weight classes and they got the job done," Spring Grove coach Tony Miller said. "There were kids from beginning to end that were fighting just as hard not to give points away as it were for some of the kids to get us bonus points.
"Our kids have been in big bouts before as recently as last weekend (NHSCA Final Four Festival), but it seems like every time we come here the place is always packed. You prep to get better here at the end. You're building to make your kids better each and every week so we want to wrestle these big matches."
Charlie Hoffman got the Colonials off to a fast start as he registered a 15-3 major decision over Seth Wolf at 170 before the Rockets scored back-to-back pins by Trey Baker and Hunter Sterner, respectively, to take a 12-4 advantage. But the Colonials bounced back and recorded consecutive pins of their own by Dalton Smith (220) and Brock Hartman (285) to regain the lead at 16-12.
A 1-0 victory by Noah Richley (106) and a 7-3 triumph by Zurich Storm (113) gave New Oxford a 22-12 edge. But that's where the momentum shifted. Spring Grove's Zack Clingan (120) scored a second-period pin to cut New Oxford's lead to 22-18, then teammate Levi Witmer (126) registered perhaps the biggest individual win of the night by defeating Lake Laughman, 6-4.
Although he fell behind early, Witmer got a second-period reversal that put him in front to stay.
"I just wanted to wrestle my hardest and whatever happens, happens," said Witmer, who was facing Laughman, a district qualifier, for the first time. "I just wanted to go as hard as I could for all three periods."
"Levi had a game plan in his head, and he did an outstanding job against a quality wrestler," he said. "I don't think he ever thought he was out of the match. He knew what he had to do and what he wanted to do."
Seconds later, 132-pounder Dakota Laughman put the Rockets ahead for good with a first-period pin that gave Spring Grove a 27-22 edge. It also was Laughman's 100th career victory.
"We're proud of Dakota to get 100 wins, and to do it on a night like tonight makes it extra special," Miller said.
Slade Storm's win at 138 cut the Rockets' lead to 27-25, but Spring Grove's Mike Hartman topped Nolan Poust at 145 (13-2) and teammate Mason Bentzel's pin at 152 secured the victory for Spring Grove before the Colonials' Guy Nitchman scored a pin at 165.
"I'd love to wrestle them again," New Oxford first-year coach Matt McFarland said. "I think it would be another great match. But our goals aren't done. We want to make that District 3 team tournament and the way I see it, I think we can get a high seed. But I'm not disappointed. Our kids gave it everything they had, and sometimes, things just don't go your way. But we're not done yet."
Before the match, longtime wrestling official Stan Dutterer, who was struck by a car last spring and killed, was honored. Assisting with the coin flip were his granddaughters, Molly and Morgan, and longtime friend and fellow official Ralph Hartlaub.
Susquehannock 51, Northeastern 24: At Glen Rock, the Warriors received pins from Zach Holloway (138), Ray Wenger (170), Adam Dell (Hwt.), Mike Younkin (113) and Dakota Hess (120) to help them secure the York-Adams League Division I victory. For the Bobcats, Devin Blymire (145) picked up a pin, while teammate Darrion Latimore (152) captured a technical fall. With the win, Susquehannock improves to 1-7 in the division and 4-9 overall, while Northeastern falls to 0-6 in the division and 0-6 overall.
Dallastown 45, Dover 26: The host Eagles won the first three bouts to take a 13-0 lead before giving up a forfeit at 126 pounds, followed by pins from Dallastown's Nick Shields (132), Wes Hoover (138) and Bryce Shields (145). The visiting Wildcats wouldn't look back from there, taking four of the remaining seven bouts by major decision, technical fall and two pins to improve to 5-3 in Division I.
Red Lion 41, Kennard-Dale 29: The host Lions jumped out to a 10-0 advantage before Kennard-Dale won four straight bouts to go up, 21-10, with eight bouts remaining. Red Lion (3-3 Division I) responded by winning three straight bouts to go back up, 28-21, but Kennard-Dale responded again by winning the next two bouts to lead, 29-28, before Red Lion closed out the match by taking the final three bouts. Kennard-Dale (2-5 Division I) picked up pins from Pat Scarborough (160) and Chance Marsteller (170), while Stone Hill (195) and Jared Schell (220) had pins for Red Lion.
Delone Catholic 44, York Suburban 36: After a pair of 1-7 seasons in league action, Delone Catholic is now 4-2 in Division II, the most league wins since the 2010-11 season (4-4). The host Squires trailed 24-11 through six bouts and 36-17 through nine bouts before winning the last five bouts to escape with the victory. The Squires received pins from Antonio Ugarte (113), Mark Evich (145) and Jacob Kadis (152). David DeAlva (182), Dan Strong (220), Ch'aim Smith (285), Colin Shelton (106) and Austin McMillan (120) had pins for the visiting Trojans (5-2 league), who have now lost two straight league matches after starting with a perfect 5-0.
South Western 35, Central York 18: The host Mustangs took eight of the first nine bouts to go up 32-3 and hung on to win as Central closed the match out by winning the final five bouts. The Mustangs improved to 6-1 in Division I action with the victory. They received pins from Gunner Holtz (182), Seth Janney (220) and Derek Wilson (113). Central picked up impressive victories from Dylan Chatterton (126) and Sam Butler (132). In a rematch of last year's sectional championship, Chatterton beat Owen Wherley, 2-1. Butler beat Cole Sterrett, 3-0, the same opponent he defeated a year ago at sectionals to qualify for the District 3-AAA tournament.
Bermudian Springs 69, Eastern 3: At York Springs, Bermudian Springs racked up six pins and one technical fall to remain unbeaten in York-Adams League Division II. Briton Shelton, Cody Rowland, Tristan Sponseller, Sam McCollum, Dalton Becker and Austin Jackson recorded the falls for the Eagles, and Ted Marines scored the technical fall. Conner Barshinger earned Eastern points with an 11-10 victory at 152.
-- Reach George Hammond at firstname.lastname@example.org.