Derry wrestling aims to make annual Hershey trip for PIAA tournament
By: Paul Schofield
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 | 6:06 PM
Derry wrestling coach Mike Weinell hopes his team's first trip to the PIAA tournament is a memorable one.
He also hopes it won't be the Trojans' last, aiming to be a consistent presence in Hershey each February.
Derry (21-2) opens action at 4 p.m. Thursday at Giant Center against District 5 champion Chestnut Ridge (13-2), ranked fourth in Class AA by PaPowerWrestling.com. Derry is ranked 10th.
And while Weinell knows his team will be the underdog, that's OK with him; he wants his wrestlers to have a good showing and represent the school well.
“This is going to be good for the team,” Weinell said. “We're going to get a good look at some of the top teams in the state. They're going to find out that Burrell is just another team up in Hershey.
“We might not have the top teams in the country, but we have a whole bunch of good teams in the state. There are no easy matches. It's pretty awesome.”
Burrell, which has won 12 consecutive WPIAL titles, will face Muncy (20-3) at 2 p.m. Muncy is ranked sixth and Burrell (11-6) is ranked eighth.
“Burrell is going to have their hands full,” Weinell said. “It's going to be great for my team. Half of the battle is confidence.
“The other teams here know what it takes. They have kids who stick it out and like being part of the program. They may not wrestle right away, but they know they have to be ready if needed. We need to get people to buy in and do that.”
Weinell said the Trojans gained confidence when they defeated Freedom in the semifinals on Saturday to clinch the trip to Hershey.
“We went at Freedom; we were hyped to win that match,” Weinell said. “I was a little disappointed at the Burrell match (a 50-23 loss in Saturday's WPIAL championship match). We didn't perform, and we didn't wrestle tough. That irritated me.
“I was proud we advanced. But I told them let's not be happy to be there. Anything can happen. Let's see how many matches we can win. We want to hold our own against the top teams in the state and get the feeling we belong.”
Derry only has three seniors on the roster, and while juniors Colton Nemcheck and Max Malis will miss the tournament because of injuries, Weinell said the trip will be invaluable.
“I'm looking for a great experience and hopefully get a few wins,” Weinell said. “It's nice to take the entire team. Most are juniors.”
Reynolds (21-1) is ranked No. 1 in Class AA, followed by Southern Columbia (16-0), Brookville (21-2) and Chestnut Ridge.
McGuffey, which finished third in the WPIAL, lost in the preliminary round Monday at Harbor Creek, the same team that ended Derry's 2017 season.
In Class AAA, three WPIAL teams will be in action Thursday.
WPIAL champion Kiski Area (21-1) will face District 3 third-place finisher Central Dauphin (19-2) at 8 p.m.
Canon-McMillan (13-1), the WPIAL runner-up, will face District 1 champion Council Rock South (12-2) at 6, while Seneca Valley (17-2), the WPIAL third-place team, faces District 12 champion Archbishop Wood (12-2). The Raiders earned a trip to Hershey on Monday by defeating Carrick in the preliminary round.
Bethlehem Catholic (13-1) is ranked No. 1 in Class AAA, and Erie Cathedral Prep (13-2) is No. 2. Kiski Area is No. 3, followed by Nazareth (15-3) and Canon-McMillan.