Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category


Former Dover High School head coach Charlie Jacobs will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame on April 12 in State

Former Dover High School head coach Charlie Jacobs will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame on April 12 in State College. (PHOTO COURTESY OF WESTYORKWRESTLINGALUMNI.COM)

Charlie Jacobs loves wrestling.

He loves the toughness it demands.

He loves the lessons it teaches.

He loves the character it develops.

And, most especially, he loves the way it turns boys into men.

For those reasons, Jacobs dedicated much of his life to the sport, first as a competitor and later as a coach.

Now, the wrestling community is paying back Jacobs for his many contributions.

The longtime Dover High School coach has been selected for induction into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is set for April 12 in State College.

The Shiloh resident becomes just the 10th man from the York area to earn the honor, joining Charles “Chuck” Richards, John Toggas, Bill Bence, Dr. Ken Ober, Terry Conover, Shaun Smith, Joey Wildasin, Tony Koontz and Brad Lloyd.

Those are legendary wrestling names in these parts, and Jacobs certainly deserves to be in their company.

“It’s a great recognition,” Jacobs said. “I was elated to hear that. When you look at the list of inductees, to join that kind of group, I’m really elated and happy to get that recognition.”

As a high school wrestler at Dover, Jacobs won a sectional title at 95 pounds.

He then served as the Dover High head coach from 1976 through 1992, compiling a 194-56-2 overall record (77 percent), including a 141-32-1 league record (81 percent). He won two York County titles (1983, 1984), four sectional crowns (1980, 1984, 1991, 1992) and a District 3 championship (1983).

He also coached 40 individual sectional champs, nine individual District 3 champions and one state champion (Shaun Smith in 1983).

Jacobs credited much of his success in wrestling and in life to two men who coached him at Dover High — Leon Senft and Harry Little. They served as his role models when he started coaching.

At the height of his coaching career, however, after winning his fourth sectional title in 1992, Jacobs decided to step away. Not because he was burned out, but because his family came first.

“My first son was 2 years old and I needed to be more involved in his life than in coaching,” he said. “I wanted to move on and do a better job of raising my son. Wrestling was always in me and will always be there. You appreciate the effort that kids put into the sport. The life skills they learn are just so valuable, and to see them go on in life and succeed is gratifying.”

After retiring from coaching at Dover, he continued to offer some individual coaching instruction and also became an avid spectator. In 2005, he was inducted into the York Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Keeping busy: At age 67, Jacobs continues to keep busy. He currently works at River Rock Academy in Spring Grove, which provides alternative education services. That followed a 37-year career in public education, including 30 at Dover. He also serves as chairman of the York Sports Night Hall of Fame Committee and said he plans to volunteer at the prestigious Cadet Duals national wrestling tournament, which is scheduled to be wrestled at the Utz Arena in each of the next three summers.

Jacobs was nominated for PWCA Hall of Fame by his friend, Don Lehman, who is a 1973 West York grad and the webmaster for, a very well-regarded wrestling website.

“Charlie loves the sport of wrestling and promoted the sport for many years,” Lehman said. “I have spoken with athletes that wrestled for Charlie at Dover and others around the county that worked with Charlie in the offseason, and all spoke very highly of him as a coach and a great man. Charlie is one of the most positive people I know. He loves to talk about wrestling and sports in general. … Charlie genuinely cared about every athlete he coached.”

Jacobs is still passionate about wrestling, and is quick to admit he’s concerned about its future. High school matches these days are often littered with forfeits and the Olympics recently tried to eliminate the sport.

“You don’t play wrestle. You play baseball. You play basketball. You play football,” Jacobs said. “Wrestling is a lot of work. It takes a special kid to put in that kind of effort into succeeding. I am worried about it. But you can’t make it less difficult, because it’s so rewarding after the effort is put in.”

Jacobs is a prime example of the type of man that wrestling can mold. And on April 12, the Pennsylvania wrestling community will bestow him with one of it highest rewards.

It’s an honor he richly deserves.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at



At its May 21 meeting, the PIAA Board of Directors is expected to approve the expansion of the individual brackets for each weight class, from 16 wrestlers to 20, for both the Class AAA and Class AA state tournaments.

If approved, the new format will be put into place beginning next year.

The motion was recently passed by the PIAA Wrestling Steering Committee. And according to various reports, prep wrestling coaches from across the state are almost unanimously in favor of this. Count a pair of longtime coaches from two of the most successful York-Adams League programs among them.

“I think in Pennsylvania the top 20 are pretty good, is the way I’m looking at it,” said Tony Miller, the coach of Spring Grove the last 17 seasons. “Just in our area the difficulty of getting out of District 3 is quite an accomplishment.”

“I think it promotes the sport, too,” said Dave McCollum, who just completed his 37th year coaching Bermudian Springs. “It gives another four kids an opportunity.”

Here’s how the new setup would look for the Class AAA tournament: The Northwest region will stay with the top-three qualifiers making states, the Northeast and Southwest regions will each move to four, and the South Central (District 3) and Southeast regions will send four or five wrestlers — the fifth berth will alternate year-to-year between those last two regions.

For Class AA, each of the four regions would get an additional qualifier, meaning the Southeast region, in which York-Adams League teams such as Bermudian Springs compete, would send the top six qualifiers to states. Had this setup been in place this past season, Bermudian Springs senior Ted Marines would have made it to states in the 145-pound bracket. Marines finished sixth at regionals, losing by a point to Boiling Springs junior John Vaughn in the fifth-place match.

Little impact: I’m not so sure if this expansion will improve the state tournament much, though. Just look at last year’s state tournaments. In Class AAA, all but five of the 28 wrestlers to reach the championship round were the top seed from their regions. The other five grapplers were No. 2 seeds. And all 14 state champions were No. 1 seeds from their regions. It was about the same in Class AA.

Maybe I would understand this move if there were No. 5 seeds upsetting higher seeds and winning gold and silver, similar to the Cinderellas we see every March in the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. Just a few years ago, that tournament expanded from 65 to 68 teams. And we’ve seen plenty of surprise teams come out of nowhere to make a run in the big dance. Heck, the title game recently featured a No. 7 seed and a No. 8 seed.

However, I don’t think this translates for the PIAA wrestling tournaments. Even if they are very talented wrestlers, those on the fringe of qualifying for states likely won’t be wrestling for gold and silver. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be pretty cool to see it happen.

Other changes: There are a couple of other changes already in place for District 3 for next season. At its meeting two weeks ago, District 3 wrestling chairman Randy Umberger confirmed that the District 3 Wrestling Steering Committee approved a “true second” format for the District 3-AA team tournament.

The “true second” format will enable semifinal losers to wrestle each other, with the winner having the option to challenge the championship match loser if the two teams did not wrestle previously in the tournament. The top two teams from the District 3-AA tournament advance to the state tournament.

The push for this change was sparked after Boiling Springs and Bermudian Springs, widely considered the top two District 3-AA teams, were matched up in the district semifinals last year. Boiling Springs beat Bermudian on criteria and went on to win the district title and qualify for the state tournament. Bermudian, arguably the second-best team in the district, was left out of states.

“We need to have a true second format,” McCollum said. “To be quite honest I don’t understand why we haven’t done it long before this.”

Umberger said the committee, in order to have the most accurate power rankings for the District 3 team tournaments, also approved a requirement for teams to wrestle at least eight regular-season dual matches against teams from Pennsylvania and complete their league duals by the end-of-season cutoff date.

This should also make it tougher for teams to wrestle a very limited number of dual meets and still qualify for the district tournament. For example, Solanco last year had the No. 7 seed in the District 3-AAA team tourney despite having a record of just 5-1. Fourteen other teams in the tournament had wrestled at least 10 regular-season duals.

— Reach John Walk at

York Dispatch Staff Report

Kennard-Dale High School’s Chance Marsteller.

Kennard-Dale High School’s Chance Marsteller. (York Dispatch file)

Chance Marsteller now has another piece of hardware to add to his bulging trophy case.

The Kennard-Dale High School standout has been named the USA Today High School Sports National Wrestler of the Year.

That organization announced its inaugural American Family Insurance All-USA High School Wrestling Team recently. The team was compiled by Jason Bryant of

Marsteller recently finished a legendary high school career at K-D with four PIAA Class AAA state championships, compiling an overall record of 166-0. He is just the fourth Pennsylvania wrestler to finish his high school career with an unblemished record and four state titles.

Marsteller won his most recent state championship despite battling a back injury.

The K-D star will continue his wrestling career at Oklahoma State next season. He had originally verbally committed to Penn State before changing his mind and ultimately signing with the Cowboys.

Two other District 3 wrestlers were honored by USA Today. Central Dauphin’s Garrett Peppelman was named to the second team and Solanco’s Thomas Haines was picked for the third team. Each won multiple state titles.

Marsteller dominated Peppelman in the state finals during his junior season.



There are a three new members of the York Area Sports Hall of Fame.

One was a legendary athlete at West York High School in the 1960s.

One has carved out a stellar 30-plus year playing career in tennis.

And the third was a standout wrestler at both the scholastic and intercollegiate levels.

All three later became coaches.

John Sprenkle, Jim Kohr and Brad Lloyd will be inducted into the local hall of fame on Sunday, May 11, at Santander Stadium — the home of the York Revolution. The induction ceremony will occur before that day’s Revs’ game against Southern Maryland, which is slated to start at 5 p.m. Past inductees into the hall of fame are invited to attend this year’s event and share in the 50th year celebration of York Area Sports Night, which is the sponsoring organization for the York Area Hall of Fame.

Sprenkle: Sprenkle had a rare combination of size, strength and speed.

In the late 1960s, Sprenkle excelled as a two-way football tackle and heavyweight wrestler for the Bulldogs, and he was also an accomplished hurdler and shot put and discus thrower in track and field. He helped West York win consecutive York County football titles and was later named the captain of the Pennsylvania Big 33 team. As a wrestler, he went undefeated as a senior and won a state heavyweight championship.

The 6-foot, 2-inch, 230-pounder had offers from many major colleges, including Penn State, before choosing to play for Virginia Tech. He excelled with the Hokies on the football field, and also wrestled for them as a freshman, when he advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

After graduating, he returned to West York to teach and coach. He coached football for 16 years and wrestling for 14 years.

Kohr: Kohr was a standout at Central York High School, compiling an overall record of 37-3, including a York County singles crown in 1983.

He went on to earn a full, four-year scholarship to North Texas, where he won at least 20 matches in each of his four seasons there. He was a team captain at North Texas for three years.

Kohr has won 16 York City-County men’s singles championships, more than any other player. He’s also long been a highly ranked competitor in the United States Tennis Association Middle State Region.

Kohr coached tennis at Central York and has been the tennis director at several clubs in the region. He has coached many of the top young players in the area in the past two decades.

Lloyd: Being a Hall of Famer is nothing new for Lloyd, who already belongs to the Eastern Wrestling League, Lock Haven University, District 3 Wrestling Coaches and Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches halls of fame.

At Red Lion High School, Lloyd compiled a career record of 106-11-1, including a District 3 title at 119 pounds in 1983 and a third-place PIAA finish at 145 in 1984.

At Lock Haven, he was a three-time NCAA Division I All-American, finishing seventh in 1986 at 167, third in 1988 at 177 and second in 1989 at 177. He was a three-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champion and finished his college career at 146-25-2. He is the winningest wrestler in Lock Haven history.

He later coached the Red Lion High varsity wrestling team from 1992 until 1997. He has most recently coached at the junior high level at Dallastown.

The York Area Sports Hall of Fame, which was started in 1973, is located at Insurance Services United at 224 N. George St., York. When Sprenkle, Kohr and Lloyd are added, the local hall of fame will have 123 members.

— Reach Steve Heiser at



They are the unsung workers behind the scenes, putting in countless hours for very little pay, or no pay at all.

They don’t get quoted in game stories, a task instead left up to the head coach and a standout athlete or two from the game.

But they are there nonetheless. They are the assistant coaches. I’ll admit I’ve rarely chatted with any in my few years thus far covering prep sports. But from what head coaches tell me, their assistants are often the backbone of the team. They’re often seen as the ones off to the side at practices working with a group of athletes, or one-on-one teaching a certain technique. Or holding a clipboard on the sidelines tracking stats. And many other responsibilities.

Unfortunately for those in this group, the financial situations for many have gotten tighter in recent years because schools have made cutbacks to the budgets of athletic departments. That’s part of the trickle-down effect of budget cuts to school districts. And many of the slashes have come by taking away the small stipends paid to assistant coaches each season.

West York: The latest to fit in this category is at West York High School.

The West York school board last month approved cuts in order to reduce its $1.5 million deficit for next school year. On top of the district’s staff being reduced by 29, the board approved cutting five athletic teams: the ninth-grade football team, the middle-school cheerleading programs for football, basketball and wrestling and co-ed middle school cross country. In addition, the district is asking that one paid position be eliminated for athletic teams that have three or more coaches.

As a result, West York athletic director Roger Czerwinski said a total of 14 paid high school assistants will lose their stipends next year. And this is at a school district that already has one of the smallest athletic budgets in York County.

“Yes and more than likely what’s gonna end up happening is we’ll end up splitting stipends,” said Czerwinski, who is also the head coach of the two-time state champion Bulldogs’ baseball team.

The West York baseball team will go from three paid positions this year (varsity head coach, varsity assistant coach and junior varsity head coach) down to two paid positions next year (varsity head coach and junior varsity head coach), with the varsity assistant losing his stipend.

“My baseball coaching stipend I’ll just split it with our assistant coach. That’s what we’re doing,” Czerwinski said of finding a solution to the cutback.

Making up for losses: That’s been one of the growing trends across York County. I found this out two years ago when I did a huge project examining how budget cuts are impacting athletic departments. Of the 14 high schools included in the study, three reported a drop-off in the number of paid assistants in the 2010-11 school year, six schools had decreases in the amount of money spent on coaching salaries and two schools put a salary freeze in place for all coaches.

Many coaches who I chatted with then said they made up for the losses by putting an added emphasis on booster clubs and fundraising. But the common solution has been relying on volunteer coaches, which is likely what will happen at West York when paid assistants this year become volunteers next year. Either that or some paid coaches will split their stipend with those coaches losing pay.

Not in it for the money: Unless you’re a head football coach in the state of Texas, there likely isn’t much money involved in high school coaching. There certainly isn’t in York County. In the story I did a couple years back I found most coaches are paid anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, based on the importance of the position and tenure of the coach. But this is just a few thousand bucks a year for a position that can feel like a full-time job in-season and part-time job out of season.

“We truly honestly don’t do it for the money because if we did we’d be idiots because you don’t get paid that much,” said Bill Ackerman, who just completed his 16th season as head coach of the West York boys’ basketball team. “At the same time it’s hard to keep someone putting in 25 hours during the season and 15 hours a week during the offseason and say ‘By the way, I’m not paying you a dime and by the way your son isn’t in the program.’ It’s tough to find anyone to do that anymore.”

Like Czerwinski and many other head coaches I’ve chatted with in recent years, Ackerman has been fortunate to find assistants who willingly sacrifice their time for little to no monetary compensation. They don’t do it for the money. Or the adulation. They do it to help student-athletes, to teach them skills that might help them on the playing field or when they face obstacles later in life.

“I’m extremely lucky to have found guys where that (money) doesn’t matter to them,” Ackerman said. “As long as the kids see no difference (from the budget cuts) then it’s a win-win for everyone.”

— Reach John Walk at



Brad Keeney was there at Susquehannock the last time the Warriors had a resurgence on the wrestling mat.

A two-time District 3 runner-up who placed fourth at states his senior year in 1999, Keeney also helped the Warriors win three York-Adams League matches that 1998-99 season. It marked the most league wins for the program in five years.

After Keeney’s graduation, the Warriors went on to post four league wins in each season for the next four years through the 2002-03 season. The Susquehannock wrestling program hasn’t experienced much success since then, winning a combined seven league matches the last 11 seasons.

Keeney, who took over the Susquehannock coaching reins this past season, has his work cut out for him as he continues his goal of building the Warriors into a winner.

The fortunes for the program could be aided a bit beginning next season, though, when the York-Adams League undergoes a monumental change in divisional alignments in order to adjust to the addition of Gettysburg joining the league.

A third division will be added to the league starting next season. Division I will largely stay the same, with Spring Grove, South Western, New Oxford, Northeastern, Dallastown, Red Lion and Central York. Moving out of Division I and into Division II will be Susquehannock, Dover, Kennard-Dale and West York, who will be joined by Eastern York, York Suburban and Gettysburg.

Division III is basically the old Division II without Eastern and Suburban: Hanover, York Tech, Fairfield, Biglerville, Bermudian Springs, Littlestown and Delone Catholic.

“When I looked at it I see pros and cons,” Keeney said of moving from Division I to Division II. “The pros are we are absolutely right in the middle of rebuilding and going up against traditional powerhouses like Spring Grove, it’s tough to monitor progress. The major benefit is gonna be, we are gonna be competitive in Division II. Kids are going to understand what it means to be successful. It’s going to give them more of an opportunity to reap those benefits of hard work and make it meaningful.”

The change isn’t perfect, though. For example, Eastern York will be going back down to the Class AA level in next year’s postseason, where the Golden Knights will face grapplers from Division III teams.

“So moving to Division II hurts us,” Eastern coach Dan Garner said. “We won’t have head-to-head competition (in the regular season) any longer with those schools (we’ll face in the postseason).”

Then again, teams will go from wrestling 8-to-10 league matches a season down to six — each team will face each divisional opponent once. So the new alignment will provide teams with more open dates on the schedule.

“Having less league matches doesn’t bother me,” Keeney said. “It puts less dates on us and gives us more time to practice and that’s what we need. It also gives us more time to get in more tournaments.”

Plus, less dual meets mean less of an opportunity to lose and drop in the district power rankings. Look at Solanco and Milton Hershey, for example. Solanco (5-1) and Milton Hershey (6-0) wrestled in just six matches this past season, Solanco in the Lancaster-Lebanon League and Milton Hershey in the Mid-Penn Conference. Both qualified for the 16-team field of the District 3-AAA Team Tournament, alongside 14 teams in the tournament that wrestled at least 10 league matches.

“With the District 3 power rankings, teams are getting away from wrestling 20 to 30 matches a year,” West York coach Brian Gross said.

Finally, the new divisional alignment means programs such as West York and Dover, which have finished in the middle of the pack in Division I in recent seasons, will now be the likely top dogs in Division II.

“I have mixed feelings about it,” Gross said. “I like wrestling Spring Grove, South Western, Dallastown and New Oxford because it tests you. It lets you know your place within the county. At the same time it would be nice to go out in Division II and do well.”

— Reach John Walk at




SPRING GROVE — The West York wrestling program appears to be on the rise.

The Bulldogs can thank Kyle Narber for some of that improvement.

One of just two seniors for the Bulldogs this season, Narber’s 91 victories over his career were a primary reason that a once-proud West York program is headed in the right direction again.

With his high school season complete, Narber got a fun “present” during Wednesday’s York-Adams League Senior All-Star Match at Spring Grove High School.

The “present”? How about a bout with PIAA Class AA state champion Tristan Sponseller of Bermudian Springs in the 195-pound bout.

Sponseller, who finished his gold-medal winning season with an unblemished record, remained unbeaten after downing Narber 4-0. But the Bulldog senior was still upbeat.

“It was pretty cool,” Narber said. “I actually practiced with him over this past summer and I think I wrestled him two years ago at a tournament in Gettysburg. It was fun to go against somebody like that because (Wednesday’s match) didn’t really mean anything. It was just kind of for fun.”

For Narber, it capped a career in which the West York program rose to at least the .500 level over his past three years. And Narber believes it will get even better next year.

“This year we only had me and one other senior so they’re a young team and hopefully they’re going to work hard in the offseason,” he said. “I think this could become a pretty good program soon.”

While the Bulldogs are looking to rise to the upper echelon of the league, Spring Grove coach Tony Miller has steered his program to that point already. The Rockets won yet another Division I title this past year and had several wrestlers earn medals at the PIAA Class AAA Championships last week.

But what is probably more impressive is the fact that Miller’s varsity club, as well as his elementary program, were both awarded sportsmanship awards by the York-Adams League wrestling officials chapter, which sponsored Wednesday’s event.

“I thanked the officials … I was just so happy,” Miller said. “Not only for myself, but for our elementary staff. We’re very privileged to win that award. I feel very lucky.”

The match split the sides into a Green-Red contingent. Miller, who coached the Green side, came out victorious 34-30 over a Red team that was coached by Bermudian coach Dave McCollum.

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at

York Dispatch Staff Report

Chance Marsteller of Kennard Dale holds up four fingers on each hand after winning the PIAA Class AAA gold medal 170-pound match against Pittsburgh Central
Chance Marsteller of Kennard Dale holds up four fingers on each hand after winning the PIAA Class AAA gold medal 170-pound match against Pittsburgh Central Catholic’s Kyle Coniker on Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey. Marsteller won the title despite a bad back, that will prevent him from wrestling in the Dapper Dan all-star match on Sunday. (JOHN A. PAVONCELLO —

Chance Marsteller’s balky back will prevent him from participating in Sunday’s Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Kennard-Dale standout recently won his fourth straight PIAA Class AAA state championship and finished his high school career with a record of 166-0. He is just the fourth Pennsylvania wrestler to finish his high school career with an unblemished record and four state titles. He plans to continue his wrestling career at Oklahoma State.

Marsteller, however, battled a bad back throughout the postseason. He revealed after his latest state title that he has a stress fracture in his lower back.

As a result, he won’t participate in the Dapper Dan Classic, considered by many to be the most prestigious high school all-star wrestling match in the nation. It bills itself as the “Rose Bowl of Wrestling.” The premier event Sunday at 6 p.m. will pit the Pennsylvania all-stars vs. the U.S. all-stars.

The Pennsylvania team will still include two York-Adams League wrestlers — Hanover’s Ian Brown and Bermudian Springs’ Tristan Sponseller. Both of those wrestlers recently won Class AA state titles, Brown at 132 and Sponseller at 195. It was the first-ever state title for both wrestlers. Brown, a Lehigh recruit, finished with a career record of 159-12, while Sponseller, a Lock Haven recruit, finished at 183-12. Brown was 39-0 this season, while Sponseller was 43-0.

The local wrestlers will face formidable foes on Sunday. Brown will take on Josh Alber, a four-time state champion from Illinois, who had a career record of 182-0. Sponseller will meet Chip Ness, a four-time Georgia state champion with a career record of 168-1. Alber is a Northern Iowa recruit and ranked No. 3 in the nation in his weight class by InterMat. Ness, a North Carolina recruit, is ranked No. 4 by InterMat. Brown is unranked and Sponseller is ranked No. 20.

Four other wrestlers from District 3 were also selected to compete in the event — Cumberland Valley’s T.C. Warner at 152 (146-18, one state crown), Central Dauphin’s Garrett Peppelman at 160 (185-15, two state crowns), Lancaster Catholic’s Stephen Loiseau at 170 (154-26, one state crown) and Solanco’s Thomas Haines at 285 (174-5, four state titles). Loiseau is replacing Marsteller.

Marsteller, if he would have wrestled, would’ve battled two-time Texas state champion Bo Nickal, a Penn State recruit who boasts a 140-7 career record. Marsteller originally gave a verbal commitment to PSU before changing his mind and signing with Oklahoma State.

The Pennsylvania-USA match will be preceded by another all-star match pitting western Pennsylvania all-stars against Oklahoma all-stars at 4 p.m.

York-Adams all-star match: The Greater York Area Wrestling Officials Chapter will sponsor the York-Adams League Wrestling All-Star Match at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Spring Grove High School.

Tickets for the event are $4 for adults and $2 for students.

Following is the complete lineup for the Pennsylvania-USA match:

113: Brian Rossi, Illinois, 158-17, one state title, vs. Ethan Lizak, Parkland, 164-18, two state titles.

120: Nathan Boston, Kentucky, 204-1, three state titles, vs. Dalton Macri, Canon-McMillan, 133-15, one state title.

126: Stevan Micic, Indiana, 182-5, three state titles, vs. Zeke Moisey, Bethlehem Catholic, 141-14, one state title.

132: Josh Alber, Illinois, 182-0, four state titles, vs. Ian Brown, Hanover, 159-12, one state title.

138: Joe McKenna, Blair Academy, New Jersey, 154-7, three state titles, Solomon Chishko, Canon-McMillan, 132-8, two state titles.

145: Tyler Berger, Oregon, 198-3, four state titles, Jason Nolf, Kittanning, 176-1, three state titles.

152: Bryce Brill, Illinois, 182-5, three state titles, vs. T.C. Warner, Cumberland Valley, 146-18, one state title.

160: Ryan Blees, North Dakota, 190-5, four state titles, vs. Garrett Peppelman, Central Dauphin, 185-15, two state titles.

170: Bo Nickal, Texas, 179-7, three state titles, vs. Stephen Loiseau, Lancaster Catholic, 154-26, one state title.

182: Joel Dixon, Oklahoma, 126-13, two state titles, vs. Zack Zavatsky, Greater Latrobe, 166-18, one state title.

195: Chip Ness, Georgia, 168-1, four state titles, vs. Tristan Sponseller, Bermudian Springs, 183-12, one state title.

220: Kyle Snyder, Maryland, 179-0, three state titles, vs. Michael Boykin, Coatsville, 142-14, one state title.

285: Nick Nevills Clovis, California, 200-5, three state titles, vs. Thomas Haines, Solanco, 174-5, four state titles.



Aja Wallpher of York College suffered a frightening head injury in the Spartans’ NCAA Division III loss on Saturday. She was still in the hospital on

Aja Wallpher of York College suffered a frightening head injury in the Spartans’ NCAA Division III loss on Saturday. She was still in the hospital on Sunday afternoon. (JOHN A. PAVONCELLO —
Kennard-Dale’s Chance Marsteller overcame a back injury to win his fourth PIAA Class AAA state wrestling title on Saturday night. He finished his

Kennard-Dale’s Chance Marsteller overcame a back injury to win his fourth PIAA Class AAA state wrestling title on Saturday night. He finished his high school career with an unbeaten record. (JOHN A. PAVONCELLO —

I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t conflicted while trying to figure out what to focus on for this week’s column.

Only because there are so many sports-related topics to choose from over the weekend.

I’m still disappointed the 2013-14 season for the York College women’s basketball season has come to an end so soon with Saturday’s upset 67-52 loss to visiting Baldwin Wallace (22-6) in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. This Spartans’ team, ranked No. 10 in D-III by going into the weekend, was supposed to go further, at least in my mind. Then again, Baldwin Wallace likely faces a buzzsaw in the Sweet 16 against undefeated FDU-Florham (29-0), currently ranked No. 6 in the country. So who knows how much further York could’ve gone?

Easily the more upsetting news coming out of Saturday’s loss, though, was the freak injury sustained by point guard Aja Wallpher in the closing minutes of a game that was already pretty much over. Diving for a loose ball on the sidelines in front of the York bench with 1 minute and 14 seconds to play, Wallpher took a knee to the head from a Baldwin Wallace player and went down to the floor, where she stayed on her back motionless until paramedics arrived. Wallpher was still in York Hospital as of Sunday afternoon recovering from a serious concussion, according to her father.

Wallpher said after Friday’s opening-round tournament win she was playing on a torn meniscus in her left knee and had a sprained right wrist. She also has persistent lower-back pain that won’t subside until she’s done playing. And she’s previously recovered from surgery to her left knee back in high school. So if there’s anyone who’s strong enough to recover from an injury like the one Saturday, Wallpher would be the one to do it.

English: Then there’s the inspirational story of Central York grad James English, now competing for the top-ranked Penn State wrestling program.

English gathered 150 career wins for the Panthers and placed third at 145 pounds in the PIAA Class AAA Tournament his senior year back in 2008. Having missed large stretches of his college career with multiple injuries, English is the starting 149-pounder in his sixth year at Penn State.

Competing in the Big Ten championships over the weekend, English secured his first berth in the NCAA national tournament.

Marsteller: And, of course, Kennard-Dale senior Chance Marsteller finished out his incredible high school career by winning his fourth PIAA gold medal Saturday with a 14-2 major decision over Pittsburgh Central Catholic senior Kyle Coniker in the 170-pound title match.



Marsteller finished his prep career with a 166-0 record, the most wins among the three other four-time state champs who had a perfect high school record. The Rams’ wrestler revealed afterwards he sustained a stress fracture to his lower back at the sectional tournament about a month ago and he’s been fighting through the pain caused by the injury out on the mat ever since. For motivation to battle through the pain, Marsteller recalled Council Rock South’s Mark Rappo, who lost a kidney when he was younger, winning his second PIAA title in 2012 with a broken hand.

“As a wrestler I’ll never forget when Mark Rappo won his state title. He had his whole hand taped up. He had a completely broken hand. He had a kidney removed when he was younger,” Marsteller said. “So he had one kidney and a completely broken hand in the state finals of his senior year. If he can do that why can’t I do what I gotta do?”

A first-class act his entire wrestling career, Marsteller also reflected a little bit on why he felt it was important to use his stage as the state’s best wrestler to represent the sport in a respectable manner all these years.

“Honestly that’s just who I am. I can’t look at a little kid (asking for an autograph) and say ‘No.’ Even an adult. I can’t say ‘No’ to people,” Marsteller said. “I want people to like the sport of wrestling. I want it to be around forever. I love the sport and I want to help the sport.”

— Reach John Walk at

By JOHN WALK, 505-5406/@YorkSportsGuy
Chance Marsteller of Kennard Dale holds up four fingers on each hand after winning the PIAA Class AAA gold medal 170-pound match.

Chance Marsteller of Kennard Dale holds up four fingers on each hand after winning the PIAA Class AAA gold medal 170-pound match. (John A. Pavoncello)

HERSHEY – A year ago it was Central Dauphin’s Garrett Peppelman who stood between Kennard-Dale’s Chance Marsteller and District 3 and PIAA gold medals. An accomplished grappler in his own right, Peppelman twice gave Marsteller a fight last season. But Marsteller prevailed each time.

Having bumped up a weight class to 170 pounds this year, Marsteller would have a different opponent this time around, squaring off against Pittsburgh Central Catholic senior Kyle Coniker in Saturday’s 170-pound PIAA Class AAA gold medal match.

Coniker, who came into the match sporting a 30-3 individual record, was the only grappler to have seriously challenged Marsteller earlier in the year. At the prestigious Powerade tournament back on Dec. 28, Marsteller defeated Coniker, 8-1.

Plus, there were the concerns about a nagging lower back injury that has been bugging Marsteller since the sectional tournament about a month ago. So, perhaps there might have been an opening for Coniker to stop Marsteller from completing an undefeated prep career and winning his fourth state gold medal.

Except Marsteller would again show everyone why he’s considered the top prep grappler in the state and one of the best in the country.

The NCAA Division I Oklahoma State recruit scored two takedowns and four back points in the first period, a takedown and four back points in the second period and rode out the third period on his feet to pull out a 14-2 major decision over Coniker.

“I didn’t really think about it,” Marsteller said of his previous match-up with Coniker. “I know I was sick at Powerade. I knew coming into today I’d be OK. I knew coming in to today I could really open him up more.”

Wearing a black singlet he finally received Monday after years of bugging Kennard-Dale athletic director Gary McChalicher for, Marsteller held up four fingers on his left hand as a referee held up his right hand to officially signal Marsteller as the winner. A packed Giant Center crowd in Hershey responded with a standing ovation.

“It was different. It’s pretty heartwarming. I got some butterflies in my stomach,” Marsteller said of his reaction to the standing ovation. “I might have teared up a little bit.”

The reaction from fans was a bit different than some boos that came down from a select number of fans when Marsteller won district gold two weeks ago at Hersheypark Arena. Marsteller admitted Saturday he heard those boos a couple weeks ago. Boos which resulted from Marsteller finishing out the final minute of his district title match on his stomach because a stress fracture in his lower back prevented him from making any serious wrestling moves.

The lower back injury has been bothering Marsteller since sectionals, when he says he could barely walk the day after. And it returned again this weekend.

“Yeah, I was feeling it. That was my first match all week that went to a third period,” Marsteller said. “Coach (Mike Balestrini) and I talked about it all week coming into it. I chose down on Friday. I just wanted to feel it out. I wasn’t too happy with it on Friday. Today I looked at coach and he said ‘Go on your feet, dude.’ That was the plan.”

Marsteller said the back injury might stick with him the rest of his career.

“I’m gonna take time off the mat about four weeks. No surgery,” he said. “If I keep going it gets worse. I just gotta rest and ice.”

Marsteller stood in the middle of the circle in the final period, preventing Coniker from making any moves and limiting any possible twists and turns that would cause further pain in Marsteller’s back.

After walking off the mat, Marsteller was formally inducted to the short list of four-time PIAA champions by Jerry Maurey, who was the second ever four-time state champ more than 60 years ago for Waynesburg. A short time later, Solanco heavyweight Thomas Haines also became a four-time state champion, stretching the list of four-time PIAA champs to 12 total. Marsteller, though, is only the fourth to do it with an unblemished career prep record, finishing 166-0, marking the most wins among the four grapplers with a perfect scholastic record, in front of Cary Kolat’s 137-0 record from 1989 to 1992. Marsteller was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler for the third year in a row.

OTHER YORK COUNTY GRAPPLERS PLACE AT STATES: Dallastown senior Rodney Sunday won his 126-pound fifth-place bout, 11-3, while Spring Grove seniors Mike Hartman (145 pounds) and Mason Bentzel (152) won their seventh-place bouts.

Sunday, an NCAA Division II Seton Hill recruit, wrestled Warren sophomore D.J. Fehlman in the 126-pound fifth-place bout. Sunday scored an early two-point takedown to take the lead but then let Fehlman up because he mistakenly thought he heard a whistle as the grapplers were on the edge of the circle. With no whistle, Fehlman got up for a one-point escape then pounced on Sunday’s back for a two-point takedown.

“I was confused. I heard a whistle. I stopped. The other kid stopped. I don’t even know what was going on. I don’t think the ref knew what was going on,” Sunday said of the mishap.

Sunday responded from there with an escape, takedown and two back points in the second period and racked up another four back points in the third period to win it, 11-3, to finish fifth at states in the 126-pound bracket for the second year in a row.

“I’m actually kind of disappointed,” Sunday said. “Ever since I lost in the quarters…my goal is to win. I had a hard time bouncing back after that (losing in Friday’s quarterfinals). I came back and did what I did last year. My goal was to do better than what I did (last year) but it’s all right.”

HARTMAN: Hartman (145), a district bronze medalist, lost his third round consolation bout, 5-0, on Saturday morning to Franklin Regional junior Josh Maruca. A D-II Millersville recruit making his first appearance in the state tournament, Hartman faced Wyoming Valley West senior Nathan Cheek in the 145-pound seventh-place bout.

Cheek led 3-0 going into the third period, where Hartman began his comeback with an escape to make it 3-1. Cheek was then whistled for his second stalling call and Hartman was awarded one point to make it 3-2. Hartman then got caught when Cheek hooked Hartman’s right leg as the grapplers were on their feet. Hartman fell to the mat and wrapped his arms around Cheek’s right leg to bring him down. Hartman eventually worked his way over onto Cheek’s back for the two-point takedown with about 20 seconds left to pull out the 4-3 win.

BENTZEL: Bentzel (152), a district bronze medalist, also fell in the third round of consolations Saturday morning, losing 2-0 to Parkland junior Josh Ortman. Bentzel then beat Greater Latrobe sophomore Jake Shaffer, 1-0, in the 152-pound seventh place bout to finish seventh at states for the second year in a row, having done so at 145 pounds a year ago.

CLASS AA: On the Class AA side earlier Saturday, Hanover senior Ian Brown completed his undefeated season by defeating Boiling Springs junior Kyle Shoop, 7-0, to capture the 132-pound Class AA gold medal and finish the year with a perfect 39-0 individual record. Similarly, Bermudian Springs senior Tristan Sponseller won his 195-pound gold medal match, 9-1, over Cory senior Ryan Morris to finish the year with a 43-0 record.

Also in Class AA, Hanover senior Tyler Shafer (145) won by forfeit to nab seventh place in the 145-pound bracket. Bermudian Springs junior Briton Shelton (160) finished in fourth place, losing 3-0 to Milton senior Ryan Preisch in the 160-pound bronze medal match. Fairfield senior Nick Mort (170) also finished fourth, going down 3-1 in the 170-pound bronze medal match to Franklin sophomore Dakota Geer. Bermudian Springs junior Colton Dull (182) won his seventh-place bout by pinning Hamburg senior Cody Miller in 2:17.

Finally, Bermudian Springs junior Sam McCollum (220) finished in eighth place, losing 5-2 to North East junior Andrew Phelps in the 220-pound Class AA seventh-place match.

–Reach John Walk at


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