MC grapplers making history with trip to Hershey

HERSHEY – When Mifflin County upended Central Mountain for the District 6 Class AAA team wrestling title Saturday, a little bit of history was made for the two-year-old program.

Today, the Huskies will look to add another chapter to the history book when they become the first team from the county to wrestle in the PIAA team championships.

The extended-season quest gets under way at 6 p.m. when the Huskies face District 11 runner-up Parkland in the opening round at the Giant Center.

The district title means a banner in the gym, the team members’ names recorded for posterity. Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin said his team still has something to say.

“It was more than just beating Central Mountain. There are other things on the line,” he said, still cognizant of the importance of what his squad accomplished Saturday.

“It’s tradition for (Central Mountain) to be in the district dual finals, and winning it. When you knock them off you know you’ve done a good thing,” Martin said. “I’m hoping that by setting those goals out there it gives them something to shoot for.”

Mifflin County made it through a brutal regular season, its first as a member of the Mid-Penn’s Commonwealth Division, which if nothing else showed the team what it needs to be able to do when it arrives in Hershey.

“We’ve gotten beat up, taken some big losses. But I think the kids overall haven’t been too fazed by it,” Martin said, pleased that losses at Cumberland Valley and Central Dauphin didn’t cause his squad to throw in the towel.

“They wanted to continue to win as many dual meets at possible,” he said. “This is a deserved opportunity for these kids.”

Key to Mifflin County’s success will be the performance in the low end of the lineup, as it has been all season. Pressure will be on the heavier side of the ledger to produce, or at least not to give up too may points.

“If we can pick up some wins from them that would be great,” Martin said.

Parkland had to get through a preliminary against a District 3 opponent to get here, and the bracket the Huskies are in pits them against either Central Dauphin or a WPIAL opponent in their second match Friday.

“It’s some of the best wrestling in the nation,” Martin said. “We know Central Dauphin, they’re very good. We won’t look to them until we actually have earned the right to wrestle them again.”

Parkland was at the King of the Mountain, so Martin had a chance to see its wrestlers early in the season.

“Coming from District 11, they are very, very good,” he said. “As a team, they have good kids all the way through. It’s going to be a test for us.”

Just arriving will be somewhat of a test – Lucas Besch, who made it to individual states a year ago, is the only member of the team who has been on the Giant Center floor.

“There’s going to be a lot of nerves for the whole team. I know that’s going to be something we have to deal with,” Martin said. “You can explain it to them, you can describe it, but until they actually step onto the floor and start to wrestle there you just can’t mimic what they’re going to be experiencing.”