20190207-ce-sp Elliot Park

Brookville’s Elliot Park, back, battles with St. Marys’ Raivis Bobby during the teams’ dual meet on Jan. 15. Park and his Raider teammates open the PIAA Class AA Team Championships today against Lake-Lehman.

HERSHEY — The Brookville wrestling team has made the trek to Hershey for the PIAA Class AA Team Wrestling Championships on both sides of the spectrum — as the hunter and the hunted — during its storied history.

The Raiders find themselves in the former category this time around as they look to prove some of the so-called “experts” wrong when it begins state tournament action today. Brookville was ranked eighth in the papowerwrestling.com state dual rankings prior to districts and actually dropped two spots to 10th when the new rankings came out Monday.

Brookville (16-2) is making its 11th trip to the state duals in the event’s 21-year history. The Raiders have been the District 9 champ in 10 of those years, with the other trip coming as the D-9 runner-up in 2013 when the district had two state qualifiers.

The Raiders have compiled a 21-13 record all-time in the state duals, placing in the Top 4 on four occasions. Brookville has won at least one match in eight of its previous 10 trips.

The only years Brookville didn’t come home with a win was 2004 and 2013. That 2004 loss came to D-5 champ North Star (40-27) in the first round in the last year team states was a single-elimination tournament.

Saegertown upended the Raiders, 33-29, in a pigtail match in 2013 when Brookville was the D-9 runner-up to Redbank Valley.

On the other end of the spectrum, Brookville has posted three or more wins on five occasions. Brookville was 4-0 when it won the inaugural state team tournament back in 1999 and again when it won the state title in 2016.

The Raiders went 4-2 on its way to a fourth-place finish in 2017 and went 3-2 in 2012 and 2014. That 2012 squad also finished fourth.

Brookville’s latest chapter in Hershey begins today at 2 p.m. against District 2 champ Lake-Lehman (9-2), one of two teams not ranked in the Top 25 to be competing in Hershey. Lake-Lehman’s two losses are to Delaware Valley (57-21) and Southern Columbia (69-3), which is ranked second for this year’s tourney.

The winner of that matchup gets Southern Columbia (D-4 champ) or 19th-ranked Conneaut Area (D-10 runner-up) in Friday’s quarterfinals at noon. Southern Columbia was the state runner-up last year.

Also in the top half of the bracket with Brookville are sixth-ranked Chestnut Ridge (D-5 champ) and seventh-ranked Greenville (D-10 3rd place), which faces 13th-ranked Hamburg in the Thursday’s first round.

Greenville handed Brookville one of its two losses this year, upending the Raiders, 37-33, at its season-opening Sheetz Classic.

The bottom half of the draw is loaded, featuring four of the Top 5 ranked teams. That group is led by top-ranked and defending state champ Reynolds (D-10 champ), third-ranked Saucon Valley (D-11 champ), fourth-ranked Muncy (D-4 runner-up) and fifth-ranked Burrell (D-7 champ).

Saucon Valley and Muncy square off in a high-profile first-round match today at 4 p.m., with the winner likely getting Burrell in Friday’s quarterfinals. Eighth-ranked Westmont-Hilltop, the District 6 champ, also is on the bottom half and could face Reynolds in the quarterfinals.

The state championship and consolation finals matches are set for 1 p.m. Saturday at the Giant Center.

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