By JOHN WALK/505-5406/@yorksportsguy
This season, it’s not as easy to predict how the upcoming wrestling season will pan out in York-Adams Division I.
Spring Grove, South Western and Dallastown will likely be near the top again. But there are more holes in each team’s lineup this season compared to previous years.
Spring Grove, winner of six-straight division titles, lost eight of 14 starters to graduation from the Rockets’ most successful team in program history. South Western, division runner-up in two of the last three seasons, brings back half its roster and just two district qualifiers. And Dallastown, a top-three Division I team the last three years, brings back eight starters but is on its third coach in six seasons.
So there’s a good opportunity for others to crack into the upper echelon of Division I this season, which begins this coming weekend for some teams in various tournaments and for all teams on Thursday, Dec. 12, in league openers. Of those expected to make a splash are West York and New Oxford. Longtime Colonials’ coach Dave Conaway retired after 21 years leading the program, but left behind a club that returns 12 starters from a team that went 5-5 in league action last season. New Oxford is tied with Central York as the teams with the most returning starters in the York-Adams League this season.
Seventh-year West York coach Brian Gross, meanwhile, has nine starters back. The Bulldogs have had identical 6-4 marks in Division I the last two years, marking back-to-back winning seasons in league action for the first time since 1997.
“I’m hoping team districts,” West York senior Kyle Narber said. “I know that was our goal last year and we didn’t get there. In Division I think we can have a lot of success this year.”
Narber (170 pounds) finished a win shy of placing in the top eight at the PIAA Class AAA individual tournament a season ago. He is one of three returning district qualifiers to the Bulldogs and one of seven returning starters who gathered a plus-.500 individual record a year ago.
Narber has already committed to wrestle at NCAA Division II Millersville University next season. He’ll be joined there by Spring Grove wrestlers Zack Clingan (120) and Mike Hartman (138), two of five returning district qualifiers for the Rockets. Clingan has 106 career victories and is aiming to break the Spring Grove career wins mark of 142.
“(West York) has been climbing and climbing,” 17th-year Spring Grove coach Tony Miller said. “Their day, I’m sure, is coming. Their coach has done a great job. He’s worked extremely hard. I think New Oxford has a nice team this year. South Western has a lot of experience coming back. The last couple of years could’ve went either way in our match with them. And then Dallastown, you just look at the quality of the kids they have down there. I think the league is getting stronger.”
Now for a look at all the teams in the York-Adams League.
Key returners: Dylan Chatterton, Sam Butler.
Key losses: Leonard Parker.
Central York should be much improved from its 4-6 mark in league action last season with 12 returning starters. However, second-year Panthers’ coach Chris Yentzer is still building for the future. Just three returners are seniors and four returners had winning individual records a year ago. Central should be strong in the lower weights with returning district qualifiers Dylan Chatterton (106) and Sam Butler (120). In his freshman season a year ago, Chatterton took third at districts and fifth at states. Sophomore Xavier Musti (126) and senior Donald Crabill (152) finished a win shy of districts.
Key returners: Nick Shields, Rodney Sunday, Wes Hoover.
Key losses: Wes Hoover, Luke Baldwin, Cooper Deller, Zaire Lawrence.
The Wildcats lose PIAA qualifiers Tanner Druck (152) and Cooper Deller (182) to graduation, but bring back eight starters (four seniors, two juniors, two sophomores) from last year’s group that went 8-2 in league competition to finish in third place in Division I. The Wildcats also qualified for the District 3-AAA team tournament a year ago. Druck and Deller are now teammates at NCAA Division II Seton Hill University. Wildcats’ senior Rodney Sunday (126) will join them in a year, but first looks to improve upon his third-place finish at districts and fifth-place finish at states last year. Under first-year coach John Childress, Dallastown will also be led by returning district qualifiers Nick Shields (120) and Wes Hoover (138). Hoover, a senior, placed third at districts to qualify for the PIAA tournament last season.
Key returners: Brandon Rodriguez, Noah Townsley, Logan Ambrose.
Key losses: Ross Drawbaugh, Shaheed Mitchell.
The Eagles achieved back-to-back winning seasons in league action for the first time since 1991 with identical 6-4 marks the last two years. And like West York, Dover finished tied for fourth in Division I the last two years and return nine starters this season. But just four of them had winning individual records a year ago, including district qualifiers Brandon Rodriguez (106) and Noah Townsley (126). Eagles’ second-year coach Brad Brosius will need to replace graduates Shaheed Mitchell (182), a district qualifier last year, and Ross Drawbaugh (138), who finished with a 23-6 record and a win shy of districts.
Key returners: Chance Marsteller, Patrick Scarborough.
Key losses: Hunter Stokes.
The Rams bring back nine starters, including senior standout and Oklahoma State University recruit Chance Marsteller, who is aiming to become the 10th wrestler to win four PIAA gold medals and just the fourth to finish with an unbeaten scholastic record. In addition to Marsteller, Kennard-Dale returns talented grapplers in Mike Bracey (106), Troy Jones (113), Nathan DeBoard (132) and Patrick Scarborough (138). Scarborough was a district qualifier last season, while Bracey, Jones and DeBoard each finished a win shy of districts. If K-D can fill out the rest of its roster it could improve on the 1-9 mark in Division I from a year ago.
Key returners: Lake Laughman, Slade Storm, Charlie Hoffman, Brock Hartman.
Key losses: Joel Zepp.
Dave Conaway retired as coach of the Colonials after leading the program for 21 years but left behind a club that returns 12 starters from a team that went 5-5 in league action last season. Six of those returners had winning individual records, including district qualifiers Lake Laughman (113), Slade Storm (145), Charlie Hoffman (195) and Brock Hartman (285). New Oxford lost district qualifier Joel Zepp (132) to graduation.
Key returners: Levi Eisenhart, Anthony Leese.
Key losses: Jeb Payne, Nick Yinger.
Third-year Bobcats’ coach Mike Muraco returns just four starters from a team that went 4-6 in Division I last season. Two of them, junior Levi Eisenhart (138) and senior Anthony Leese (285), had individual records of .500 or better a year ago. Jeb Payne, the team’s lone district qualifier last year, is gone to graduation.
Key returners: Austin Holloway, Jared Schell.
Key losses: Tyler Schell.
Red Lion lost last year’s lone district qualifier, Tyler Schell (170), to graduation from a squad that finished with a 2-8 mark in Division I last season. Third-year coach Chris Schell does return nine starters, but just two of them had individual records of .500 or better a year ago.
Key returners: Zack Clingan, Alec Zorbaugh, Dakota Laughman, Mike Hartman, Mason Bentzel.
Key losses: Derek Carlisle, Tyler Miller, Austin Barley, Jon Gross, Andy Melhorn, Alex Guinn.
For as good as Spring Grove has been over the years, the Rockets somehow managed to reach new heights a year ago by winning the program’s first-ever match in the PIAA Class AAA team tournament after placing third in the District 3-AAA team tournament. Coach Tony Miller, in his 17th year at Spring Grove, will return six starters from that squad, which won a single-season program record 25 matches. The Rockets return a league-high five District 3-AAA qualifiers, including two who made it to states. But they do lose a ton of talent to graduation. Eight grapplers are gone from last year’s team. Six of those were district qualifiers, including state qualifier Derek Carlisle. Graduates Tyler Miller (Messiah College), Austin Barley (York College) and Keegan Worley (Millersville) are now competing at the collegiate level.
Key returners: Owen Wherley, Derek Wilson, Cole Sterrett, Gage Thomas, Logan Bowman.
Key losses: Bobby Wildasin, Aram Moffitt, Devon Ackerman
Third-year South Western coach Brad Zeigler brings back half his roster — four seniors, three sophomores — from a Mustangs’ squad that went 9-1 and finished as runner-up to Spring Grove in York-Adams Division I last year. Among those lost to graduation are district-qualifiers Bobby Wildasin (152), Aram Moffitt (220) and Devon Ackerman (heavyweight). Of the seven returning starters, two placed fifth at districts in their respective weight classes while three others finished a win shy of making districts.
Key returners: Tyler White, Adam Dell.
Key losses: None.
If the Warriors can fill out their roster, a problem in recent seasons, to go along with their eight returning starters, they should have what it takes to avoid a second-straight winless season in Division I. Of the eight returners, five had individual records of .500 or better last season, including senior Tyler White (160) and heavyweight Adam Dell, both of whom finished a win shy of districts.
Key returners: Noah Townsley, Garrett Stauffer, Kyle Narber.
Key losses: Jacob Gemmill.
With a pair of 6-4 records in league action the last two years, West York achieved the program’s first back-to-back winning seasons in league action since 1997. The Bulldogs also finished tied with Dover for fourth place in Division I the last two seasons. With nine starters back, West York just might have what it takes to crack into the upper echelon of the division standings. Coach Brian Gross, in his seventh year at West York, will rely on returning district qualifiers Noah Townsley (126), Garrett Stauffer (145) and Kyle Narber (170), plus four others who had .500 or better individual records a year ago. Narber, a senior, finished a win shy of placing in the top eight at last season’s PIAA tournament. West York graduated three starters, most notably 220-pounder Jacob Gemmill, who finished with a 19-4 record and a win shy of qualifying for districts.
Key returners: Briton Shelton, Austin Jackson, Colton Dull, Tristan Sponseller.
Key losses: Jake Ford, Jacob Slonaker, Brock Linebaugh.
A loaded Bermudian Springs roster will aim for the program’s fifth-straight undefeated season in Division II. Although the Eagles lost District 3-AA qualifiers Jake Ford (132), Jacob Slonaker (182) and Brock Linebaugh (195) to graduation, they bring back 10 starters, nine of whom were District 3-AA qualifiers last year. That includes district champion Briton Shelton (145) and district runners-up Austin Jackson (138), Colton Dull (160) and Tristan Sponseller (170). Shelton placed eighth in last season’s PIAA Class AA tournament, while Sponseller finished runner-up in the state tournament. On top of winning another division title, the Eagles will also aim to return to the semifinals of the PIAA Class AA team tournament for the second-straight year.
Key returners: Nate Newberry, Scott Cooper, Jasper Hankey, Tyler Lieberum, Joe Hurda.
Key losses: Josh Asper, Trevor Stover.
The Canners, 7-1 in Division II last season, will again challenge Bermudian for the division crown. They’ll do so with nine returning starters, all of whom were District 3-AA qualifiers last season. The most successful of that bunch was Jasper Hankey (138), who took third at districts and qualified for the state tournament as a junior. Biglerville lost four grapplers to graduation, including District 3-AA champion Trevor Stover (285), who placed fourth at states. Also gone to graduation is Josh Asper (170), a state qualifier a year ago.
Key returners: Josh Sneeringer, Joe Post.
Key losses: Matt Lentz, David Zinn.
The Squires return nine starters, including three District 3-AA qualifiers, from last year’s team that went 1-7 in division action. Gone to graduation are district qualifiers Matt Lentz (170) and David Zinn (195).
Key returners: Johnny Vidal, Zachary Ilgenfritz.
Key losses: Alex Cooley, Camden Stoops.
Eighth-year Eastern York coach Dan Garner admits he’s in a rebuilding mode following successful seasons of going 6-2 and finishing third behind Bermudian and Biglerville in each of the last three years. Eastern brings back just four returning starters, none of whom were District 3-AAA qualifiers last year. Six grapplers were lost to graduation, including standouts Alex Cooley (195) and Camden Stoops (220). Last season, Stoops was a District 3-AAA qualifier while Cooley took fourth in the district tourney and finished in the top eight at states. Stoops is now wrestling at NCAA Division III Gettysburg while Cooley redshirted this past fall for the D-II East Stroudsburg football team.
Key returners: Wayne Wivell, Nick Mort.
Key losses: Cameron Scalio, Jacob Miller.
Fairfield is coming off three-straight seasons of identical 3-5 records in Division II. The Knights will return starters Wayne Wivell (138), David Stone (145), Nick Mort (160) and senior Brett Harris (285), all of whom were District 3-AA qualifiers last year. Mort was the best of the bunch, placing third in the district tourney. Lost to graduation are District 3-AA qualifiers Nicole Small (106), Cameron Scalio (132) and Jacob Miller (220).
Key returners: Ian Brown, Tyler Shafer.
Key losses: Giuliano Graziosi.
The Nighthawks will likely improve on their 3-5 record in division competition last season with 10 returning starters, four of whom were District 3-AA qualifiers. Leading the way will be returning district champs and PIAA qualifiers Ian Brown (132) and Tyler Shafer (138).
Key returners: Zachary MacCleod.
Key losses: Dustin Bowersox, Josh Vaughn.
Littlestown brings back five starters from a team that had one win in division competition a year ago. The lone district qualifiers from last year’s squad, Dustin Bowersox (145) and Josh Vaughn (182), are gone to graduation.
Key returners: Ch’aim Smith.
Key losses: Andrew Toman.
The Trojans might replace Eastern York as third-best team in Division II this winter. Suburban is coming off an impressive 5-3 division record a season ago, marking the program’s first winning season in league action since 2009-10 (6-4) and third since 1999-00 (7-2). Third-year Trojans coach Brian Gentzyel brings back 10 starters, four of whom had plus-.500 individual records. Suburban will be led by senior Ch’aim Smith (285), a District 3-AAA qualifier last season.
Key returners: Brandon Nikolaus.
Key losses: Gary Hake, Camron Stewart, Dylan Hartlaub, Jevenson Villanueva.
Tech finished 2-6 in Division II last year, marking the first time since the 2005-06 season that the Spartans had more than one league win. Gary Hake (132) also became the first Tech wrestler since 2005 to qualify for the District 3-AAA tournament. Along with Hake, the Spartans lost talented grapplers Camron Stewart (152), Dylan Hartlaub (160) and Jevenson Villanueva (220) to graduation. They’ll return six starters this winter. But just one of those, junior Brandon Nikolaus (145), had a winning individual record a year ago.
– Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.