Most text messages sent in the early morning hours aren't necessarily ones people want to receive.

But Brad Zeigler didn't mind the one he received at 5:30 a.m. Sunday as he was preparing for a wrestling club tournament in Maryland.

"One of my parents had texted me around 1 a.m. telling us we got in," the South Western head coach said.

What the Mustangs "got in" is this year's District 3 Class AAA wrestling tournament, which is slated to start Tuesday afternoon.

Spring Grove and Dallastown, the top two YAIAA Division I teams, will join third place South Western in the 16-team field.

In the Class AA event, Bermudian Springs was seeded second and will host the first two rounds of action on Wednesday. Division II runner-up Biglerville also qualified among the top eight small schools, earning a trip to Boiling Springs for the first two rounds.

Earning the district team slot was especially gratifying after Zeigler watched his team drop from 12th place earlier in the week all the way to 18th after the squad's competitive 33-28 loss to the Rockets on Thursday.

"I thought keeping the match close would help," he said. "My heart dropped a little for the kids after seeing (the drop). We've been fighting the battle (against injuries) all year long."

As the No. 15 seed, South Western (10-4) must take on No. 2 seed Big Spring at the Bulldogs' home gym. It's a tall task for the Mustangs as the Mid-Penn Conference squad is loaded with experienced grapplers.


"I know (Big Spring) is a powerhouse. It's going to be a very tough match," Zeigler said. "I'm happy we're getting the opportunity to wrestle a high-caliber team."

This marked the first year where qualifying was based solely on a team's power rating, which created a fluid situation for many teams. The Rockets also benefited from the last-minute shuffling caused by Saturday's results.

As of Friday evening, Spring Grove was headed for another matchup with Mid-Penn perennial power Cumberland Valley, a team the Rockets have struggled to defeat.

When the official pairings were released Sunday afternoon, Spring Grove (17-3) was seeded sixth, which earns them a date with 11th-seeded ELCO.

Rocket head coach Tony Miller thinks the system, which includes a team's record and the strength of schedule, probably did its job.

"Looking at (the seedings), it got the top four teams right," he said. "(The rankings) only hurt the teams that are taking risks by wrestling better, but most of the better teams don't worry about that.

"You're just looking for the best matches for your kids."

The format of the tournament also has changed from previous years where matches were wrestled one per day until the semifinals and finals, which were always run on the first Saturday in February.

Now, the first two rounds for both classifications are wrestled on opening day. Class AAA winners move into Thursday's semifinals, while Class AA winners go directly to Saturday's district championship.

Miller knows a little about ELCO (17-3) as both teams were at the Penn Manor tournament earlier in the season. But he has to worry about more than the Raiders from the Lancaster-Lebanon League.

"We really have to do homework for two matches now. We'll have to prep for three teams. You won't be able to adjust your lineup too much," said Miller, whose team could face No. 3-seeded Mechanicsburg in the second match Tuesday.

* * *

Bermudian Springs (23-1) will face 16-6 Milton Hershey, the No. 7 seed, in Wednesday's opening round before taking on the winner of No. 3-seeded Upper Dauphin (16-1) and No. 6-seeded Wyomissing (13-7). The Eagles are hoping to reach the final to get crack at top-seeded Boiling Springs, the only team to have beaten the Division II champs this year.

No. 4-seeded Biglerville has quite a difficult road to Saturday's final. The Canners open with Berks County power Schuylkill Valley (15-2). Should they get by the Panthers, a rematch with the Bubblers is likely to take place. Earlier this month, Boiling Springs ripped Biglerville, 50-19, in a nonleague match.
District 3 Team Tournament
Tuesday, Jan. 31
First Round
   All matches at 5 p.m.
at Central Dauphin
   No. 1 Central Dauphin (16-0) vs. No. 16 Exeter (16-7)
   No. 8 Dallastown (9-1) vs. No. 9 Governor Mifflin (16-5)
at Solanco
   No. 5 Wilson (15-2) vs. No. 12 Manheim Twp. (11-5)
   No. 4 Solanco (11-1) vs. No. 13 Conestoga Valley (9-3)
at Mechanicsburg
   No. 3 Mechanicsburg (11-0) vs. No. 14 Manheim Central (10-6)
   No. 6 Spring Grove (17-3) vs. No. 11 ELCO (17-3)
at Big Spring
   No. 7 Cedar Cliff (16-6) vs. No. 10 Cumbrland Valley (9-5)
   No. 2 Big Spring (13-2) vs. No. 15 South Western (10-4)
   All matches at 7 p.m.
at Central Dauphin
   Central Dauphin-Exeter winner vs. Dallastown-Governor Mifflin winner
at Solanco
   Wilson-Manheim Twp. winner vs. Solanco-Conestoga Valley winner
at Mechanicsburg
   Mechanicsburg- Manheim Central winner vs. Spring Grove-ELCO winner
at Big Spring
   Cedar Cliff- Cumbrland Valley winner vs. Big Spring-South Western winner
Thursday, Feb. 2
   Quarterfinal winners at highest seed, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 4
   Championship and third-place matches at the Spartan Center at Milton Hershey, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 1
   All matches at 5 p.m.
at Boiling Springs
   No. 1 Boiling Springs (19-0) vs. No. 8 Newport (15-7)
   No. 4 Biglerville (19-6) vs. No. 5 Schuylkill Valley (15-2)
at Bermudian Springs
   No. 3 Upper Dauphin (16-1) vs. No. 6 Wyomissing (13-7)
   No. 2 Bermudian Springs (23-1) vs. No. 7 Milton Hershey (16-6)
   All matches at 7 p.m.
at Boiling Springs
   Boiling Springs-Newport winner vs. Biglerville-Schuylkill Valley winner
at Bermudian Springs
   Upper Dauphin-Wyomissing winner vs. Bermudian Springs-Milton Hershey winner
Saturday, Feb. 4
   Championship at the Spartan Center at Milton Hershey, 11 a.m.