Spring Grove’s Dakota Laughman takes down Boyertown’s Ty Miller during the Rockets’ 37-24 victory on Monday.
Spring Grove's Dakota Laughman takes down Boyertown's Ty Miller during the Rockets' 37-24 victory on Monday. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS --- JASON PLOTKIN)

With Spring Grove's wrestling team fighting for its first state team tournament win, Rocket senior Derek Carlisle found himself in a battle against Boyertown freshman Garrett Mauger.

The Bears, third-place finishers from District 1, had won three straight bouts and had some momentum.

But that changed in the blink of an eye Monday, as Carlisle scored 10 points in about a minute to roll to a 15-3 major decision, a key win in host Spring Grove's 37-24 win in the preliminary round of the PIAA Class AAA team tournament.

"I knew I was better on my feet because in the first period I took him down. It was pretty close (to a pin)," said Carlisle, who brought the crowd to his feet after the final home match of his scholastic career.

The win puts Spring Grove (23-1) into Thursday's first round against District 7 champion Canon McMillan at 8 p.m. at Hershey's Giant Center. The Rockets have won two straight after losing their only dual meet of the season against District 3 champion Central Dauphin last Thursday.

Spring Grove never trailed in Monday's match and only faced a few tense moments. Five individual bouts were decided by three points or fewer; three of those were won by the Rockets.

Carlisle jumped to a 5-3 first-period lead. After a scoreless second period, the Rocket senior chose down for the final two minutes.

The official had already issued warnings to each wrestler for stalling, and the next call came against Mauger, pushing Carlisle's lead to 6-3. Mauger then chose to release Carlisle to try and cut into the lead with a takedown.

Carlisle's experience and the raucous home crowd made sure that didn't happen. A double-leg right to near-fall criteria gave Carlisle five points, and the senior cranked a half-nelson late for three more back points and the final margin of victory.

"He's had a good week, and you could see him kick it into high gear when he took that kid down and tried to throw him on his back," Rocket coach Tony Miller said. "I was leaning back at that point. He was in overdrive."

That put Spring Grove ahead 29-18 with three bouts left. Zach Clingan's 10-1 major decision sealed the win for Miller's team.

"They are really solid in there," Miller said of Boyertown's strength in the upper weights. "I was real happy with the way my kids wrestled. You could tell they wanted to go to Hershey. There was no doubt in my mind."

Spring Grove jumped to an early lead on the strength of Mike Hartman's 10-1 major decision at 138 and Mason Bentzel's crossface cradle pin at 145.

The teams traded close matches as Boyertown freshman Gregg Harvey edged Tyler Miller, 8-7, at 152, and Rocket senior Austin Barley toughed out a 4-2 overtime win at 160.

The Rockets extended their lead with three straight wins. Jonathan Gross got a first-period pin at 170, and Andy Melhorn (182) and Tyler Beckner (195).

Boyertown, which had started bumping wrestlers up at 170, mounted a comeback on the strength of pins by state-ranked Jordan Wertz (220) and one-loss freshman Jordan Wood, who moved up a weight to 285.

The Bears sent freshman Lucas Miller, ranked seventh in the state, in at 106, but Rocket sophomore Levi Witmer frustrated the 29-match winner. Miller could only score a takedown in his 2-0 win and spent much of the final two periods fending off a strong performance on top by Witmer.

That bout cut the Rocket lead to seven points and set the stage for Carlisle and Clingan to shut the door. Spring Grove got a final major decision from Dakota Laughman at 132 to close out the scoring and move the Rockets into position for a showdown with Canon Mac.

"They won't be intimidated," Miller said about his team. "They showed up against Central Dauphin, so I'm sure they will show up on Thursday."

   138 -- Mike Hartman (SG) dec. Reuben Maldonado, 10-1; 145 -- Mason Bentzel (SG) pinned Jake Salkovitz, :45; 152 -- Gregg Harvey (B) dec. Tyler Miller, 8-7; 160 -- Austin Barley (SG) dec. Cody Richmann, 4-2 OT; 170 -- Jonathan Gross (SG) pinned Garrett Abare, 1:31; 182 -- Andy Melhorn (SG) dec. Grayson Garber, 8-5; 195 -- Tyler Beckner (SG) dec. Michael Fretz, 9-8; 220 -- Jordan Wertz (B) pinned Alex Guinn, :43; 285 -- Jordan Wood (B) pinned Mike Lentz, 1:25; 106 -- Lucas Miller (B) dec. Levi Whitmer, 2-0; 113 -- Derek Carlisle (SG) dec. Garrett Mauger, 15-3; 120 -- Zach Clingan (SG) dec. Dylan Wertz, 10-1; 126 -- Edward Kriczky (B) pinned Alec Zohrbaugh, 1:25; 132 -- Dakota Laughman (SG) dec. Ty Miller, 10-1.