SPRING GROVE – The PIAA South Central Regional District III, Class AAA wrestling tournament has undergone a change of scenery – having moved from the famed Hersheypark Arena to Spring Grove High School in York County.
Instead of six mats, wrestlers are competing on four mats in the Spring Grove gymnasium.
But the intensity, which was muffled by the echoing sounds in the expansive arena in Hershey, is much closer. There is nothing like the noise generated when spectators are cheering for eight different competitors at the same time.
The noise increases when the stakes are higher. The district championships are formatted so that even a first-round loser can advance to the consolation finals. And, its those consolation bouts that become increasingly harder as championship quarterfinalists and semifinalists fall by the wayside.
This year’s districts was the last for Waynesboro seniors Bodie Rouzer, Kaden Rouzer and Colby Bittorie. The Rouzer brothers, wrestling at 132 and 145 pounds, respectively, both were runners up at last weekend’s Section 4 championships at South Western High School. Both lost by narrow margins, and both were hoping to wrestle well enough to crack the PIAA tournament for the first time.
Also competing were freshman 113-pounder Jayden Rooney along with Titus Mong (172).
Bodie Rouzer won his first-round match against Daniel Boone’s Nolan Brown. Rouzer put in a strong match, defeating Brown by a 12-2 major decision to advance to the quarterfinals. Rouzer lost a close match to Cedar Cliff’s Aidan Bachman, 3-2 to drop to the consolation bracket but still with a chance to finish in the top three and move on to states.
Rouzer, who was 25-13 this season and compiled 82 career wins, was successful in the second round of eight consolations with a 5-2 decision against Logan Schmidt of Big Spring. With the win, Rouzer wrestled in the consolation round of four, with the winner advancing to the consy semifinals. Rouzer major decisioned Ephrata’s Tristan Mellinger, 11-0.
Garden Spot’s Garrett Gehr spoiled Rouzer’s hopes of competing for third place by notching a 5-2 victory. Rouzer lost in the fifth-place match to Bachman by the score of 5-1.
Kaden Rouzer’s path to a sixth-place finish started with a Round of 16 loss to Coacalico’s Aiden Swann, 5-2.
Rouzer, who finished the 2021-22 season with a 28-10 record and accumulated 84 career wins, went right to work to make up ground, and he was decisive in his first consolation match. He pinned Arthur Ruud of Central Dauphin in 4:35. Rouzer then major decisioned Donegal’s Ruben Mumper, 13-1.
Rouzer wasn’t done yet, and he advanced to the consolation semifinals with a 4-2 decision against Northern York’s Timmy Johnson.
Rouzer met up with Swann for a second time in the tournament. Swann again defeated Rouzer, this time in sudden victory, 3-1.
Rouzer lost to York Suburban’s Noah Rice in the fifth-place match, 7-2. Rice decisioned Rouzer 3-1 in the sectional title match.
Rooney earned a trip to the quarterfinals thanks to a 6-0 decision against Timothy Porter of Cocalico.
Rooney, who placed third at sectionals, lost to Chambersburg’s Rylan Carter by major decision, 11-3. He then lost to Cumberland Valley’s Alex Tennis in sudden victory, 6-4.
Mong lost in the Round of 16 but won his first consolation bout, 5-4. His tournament came to an end against Governor Mifflin’s Cole Lang, who pinned Mong in the second period.
Bittorie, wrestling at 160 pounds, lost in the first round and first-round of eight in the consolation bracket by fall.
Chambersburg senior Karl Shindledecker, who placed third at states as a freshman and was runner up last season, won the district crown in the 126-pound weight class. Shindledecker dominated Manheim Township’s Josh Hillard, 6-0, in the championship bout. He recorded an 8-0 shutout in the Round of 16 and a 5-0 decision in the semifinals. Those wins were bookends to a first-period pin in the quarterfinals.
The PIAA Individual Championships will take place March 10-12 at Giant Center in Hershey.