Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category


Longtime West York head coach John Toggas, left, is seen here with Dr. David Joyner during their induction into the National Wrestling Coaches Association

Longtime West York head coach John Toggas, left, is seen here with Dr. David Joyner during their induction into the National Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1999. Joyner starred at Penn State in wrestling and football and later became the PSU athletic director. (PHOTO COURTESY OF TOM ELLING — Pennsylvania Wrestling News)

In sports, the word “legend” sometimes gets tossed around a little casually.

It’s often used to describe athletes or coaches who are really very good, not great, and certainly not legendary.

In York County wrestling circles, however, John Toggas was a truly legendary figure.


YAIAA wrestlers still in hunt for medals:

Class AA (all matches 2 p.m.)

Bermudian Springs
3rd-place: 182 – Colton Dull vs. Collins (Pope John Paul II)
3rd-place: 220 – Sam McCollum vs. Oliver (United)

7th-place: 145 – Nate Newberry vs. Fry (Hughesville)

Eastern York
5th-place: 195 – Lucas Barshinger vs Fournier (Elizabeth Forward)

Class AAA (all matches 6:30 p.m.)

South Western
5th-place: 120 – Derek Wilson vs. Gulotta (Owen J Roberts)
Finals: 220 – Seth Janney vs. Wood (Boyertown)


SPRING GROVE — The Kennard-Dale wrestling program has come a long way in a short time.

After years of being perennial doormats in the York-Adams League, K-D coach Mike Balestrini has sensed a sea change with how his wrestlers have prepared, both before and during the season.

All the hard work and efforts paid off handsomely for the program, which captured its first ever York-Adams Division II title this season. The Rams also ventured to a place they’ve never been before: the District 3-AAA Team Tournament.

K-D had a chance to extend their dream season even further against Division I champion South Western Thursday night at Spring Grove High School in the district consolation quarterfinals.

With several wrestlers battling illnesses, the Rams stayed close with the Mustangs throughout. But a couple close losses, combined with three forfeits, all but did in Balestrini’s squad, which dropped a 40-25 decision.

South Western wasn’t able to find a way to use the momentum from that victory to advance to the PIAA tournament for the first time in school history. Facing Gov. Mifflin, with a state berth on the line, the Mustangs from the Berks County League claimed a 38-26 victory in the consolation semifinals, ending South Western’s season as well.

“This was huge,” Balestrini said. “This was by far the best team we’ve had because they’re a team. When one guy is down another guy steps up. And vice versa.”

Rams start hot: The Rams started out hot against the Mustangs, taking the first three matches of the night to take a 16-0 advantage. The lead grew to 22-6 after South Western had to forfeit at 285. The Mustangs, however, rebounded and showed their might at the lightweights to eventually forge a 22-22 deadlock.

K-D got a 4-3 decision at 126 from Mike Bracey in a battle with Gavin Smith to take a 25-22 lead, but the Rams had to forfeit two more matches (at 132 and 152) while also losing bouts at 138 and 145.

Optimism: While the night didn’t end the way Balestrini and his team would have liked it, the veteran Ram coach had nothing but optimism concerning the current and future state of his program.

“We’re working a lot harder in a lot of different situations,” he said. “And the kids have responded. Now we have some seniors here that we’re going to hate to lose, but we have some young kids too. A lot of young kids. But these kids stepped up, worked hard and they really have deserved everything that they’ve got.”

Chris Hurt (decision at 160), Nathan Stewart (decision at 170), Elliot Stauffer (major decision at 182), Harley Eagle (pin at 195), Cody Gladstone (forfeit at 285) and Bracey all scored victories for the Rams.

South Western was able to claim those three forfeits at 113 (Chase Mowery), 132 (Owen Wherley), and 152 (Gage Thomas), as well as a pins by Seth Janney at 220 and Ben Doll at 106 to prevail.

“We probably could have had a couple more wins that we should have had, but we didn’t and that’s the way it goes,” Balestrini said. “South Western is a tough team. And for it to come down to us and South Western as the last two teams from the whole league, I’m proud of that.”

Mustangs fall: The Mustangs, however, found themselves quickly in a big hole against Gov. Mifflin in the consolation semifinals. Mifflin scored back-to-back pins at 170 and 182, a decision at 195 and then another forfeit at 220 to rack up a 21-0 lead.

The York-Adams Division I champs rallied back behind Janney, who bumped up to 285 in a battle against Mifflin standout heavyweight Keith Miller. Janney fell behind 2-0 early before rallying to claim a 7-4 decision.

Janney typically would have wrestled at 220, but because Scotty Dickmyer, the team’s normal 285 anchor, couldn’t go Thursday, it tied Coach Nate Murren’s hands a bit.

“Scotty couldn’t go tonight,” Murren said. “So when you’re missing a class that you normally have and instead of giving up three or maybe even winning three, you give up six. And a forfeit in this type of setting … you almost can’t win.”

The momentum picked up after that. Doll and Mowery scored back-to-back falls before Derek Wilson earned a major decision at 120 to cut the deficit to 21-19.

The two teams traded decisions at 126 (a 1-0 win for Mifflin’s Zach Scheetz) and 132 (an 8-3 victory for Wherley) to make it 24-22. Mifflin, however, scored back-to-back major decisions at 145 and 152 to push the lead to 32-22 with two bouts left.

Despite a 20-10 major decision from Thomas at 152, South Western’s fate was quickly sealed when Mifflin’s Ben Maack earned a pin in 59 seconds.

“This (result) didn’t really surprise us too much,” Murren said. “We knew we had to wrestle and it just didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to.”


Central York 59, Northeastern 13: The host Panthers won 11 of the 14 bouts to finish off their York-Adams Division I schedule with a win. Dylan Chatterton (138), Tyler Colon (160), Colton Morris (285), Rusty Novelas (126) and Xavier Musti (132) had pins for the winners. Blaine Yinger (220) accounted for the Bobcats’ lone pin.

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at

Bermudian Springs and Delone Catholic will wrestle in the District 3-AA Team Wrestling Tournament third-place match on Saturday.

The Eagles and Squires each won quarterfinal contests on Wednesday before falling in the semifinals.

No. 1 seed Bermudian (20-2) rolled past No. 8 seed Annville-Cleona (10-7) in the quarterfinals, 62-16, before losing to No. 4 seed Northern Lebanon (12-1) in the semifinals.

No. 3 seed Delone (12-3) edged No. 6 seed Hamburg (12-6) in the quarterfinals before getting routed by No. 2 seed Boiling Springs (13-3) in the semifinals. The Bubblers are after their fifth straight District 3-AA crown.

Boiling Springs ended Biglerville’s season in the quarterfinals, 59-6.

The Bubblers and Gov. Mifflin will meet at 10:30 a.m. Saturday for the district title at Milton Hershey. At that same time and place, Delone and Bermudian will face off for third place.

The winner of the third-place match will have the right to wrestle for “true” second place at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Milton Hershey against the loser of the title match — only if the two teams didn’t meet in the semifinals.

Only the top two teams in the district will advance to the state tournament.


Northern Lebanon 36, Bermudian Springs 28: At York Springs, the Eagles got pins from Austin Clabaugh (126), Colton Dull (182) and Sam McCollum (220), but it wasn’t enough to prevent the upset. McCollum got his fall in just 12 seconds.

Boiling Springs 56, Delone Catholic 12: At Boiling Springs, the Squires couldn’t keep up with a powerhouse Bubblers lineup. Ryan Hart had a pin for Delone at 126.

Bermudian Springs 62, Annville-Cleona 16: At York Springs, the Eagles got pins from: Landon West (106), Brady Sanders (120), Austin Clabaugh (126), Darren Beal (145), Colton Dull (182), Logan Luckenbaugh (195), Sam McCollum (220) and Brady Linebaugh (285). Noah Fleshman (160) and Briton Shelton (170) each captured technical falls.

Boiling Springs 59, Biglerville 6: At Boiling Springs, the Canners were only able to pick up two decisions. Nate Newberry (152) and Nate Mentzer (220) each picked up a decision for the Canners, who finished 9-9.

Delone Catholic 34, Hamburg 28: At Boiling Springs, the Squires received pins from: Antonio Ugarte (126), Mark Evich (138), Brady Repasky (160), Josh Sneeringer (170), and Bryce Perkins (285).


Eastern York 44, Columbia 28: At Wrightsville, the Golden Knights won the battle of Susquehanna River rivals. Eastern got pins from Dalton Lauer (138), Dakota Mackley (160), Troy Staats (182), Scott Elliot (220) and Lee Dice (285).

Even if they won their first-round match in the District 3-AAA Team Tournament on Tuesday night, Kennard-Dale had very tough odds against getting past defending champion Cumberland Valley.

Still, the Rams were wrestling in the district tournament and looking to make history, as they have already done this season by winning the program’s first York-Adams Division II title earlier this month. Tuesday marked the first time ever that Kennard-Dale competed in the district team tournament. So a first-round win for the No. 9 seed Rams over No. 8 Milton Hershey at Cumberland Valley would be the first postseason victory in K-D history.

With that in mind, K-D started strong Tuesday, winning four of the first five bouts to open up a 19-4 lead over Milton Hershey, a program that was competing at Class AAA level for only the second year after previously only competing in Class AA. Chris Hurt (152 pounds), Nathan Stewart (160), Elliot Stauffer (170) and Harley Eagle (195) accounted for two major decisions, a technical fall and a pin in those four winning bouts by the Rams early on.

Milton Hershey stormed back by winning four of the next five bouts to take a 28-23 advantage. The Rams, however, would close out the match strong with pins by Mike Bracey (126) and Wade Rose (132), an overtime victory by Daniel Eagle (138) and a pin by Austin McNamee (145) to secure a 44-28 win over Milton Hershey and nab the program’s first postseason victory.

The Rams (14-4) were defeated in the next round by top-seed CV (15-1), 67-10, but their season still remains alive. K-D now wrestles in the consolation bracket, which eventually determines the third-place winner of the tournament. The Rams will next face No. 4 South Western (16-5) on Thursday at Spring Grove at 5:30 p.m.

The Mustangs won their first-round match over No. 13 Mechanicsburg (12-8), 42-21, before going down to the wire in the quarterfinal round and ultimately losing close to Exeter for the second year in a row at this stage by a final score of 30-28. A year prior, Exeter beat South Western in the quarterfinals, 30-27.

Meanwhile, the seasons for No. 6 Red Lion (18-3) and No. 10 Spring Grove (13-4) came to an end with first-round losses that both went down to the final bout on Tuesday night. The Lions fell to No. 11 Penn Manor (14-3), 30-28. The Rockets dropped a 37-31 decision to No. 7 Cedar Cliff (18-4).

The loser of Thursday’s district semifinal match between No. 3 Gov. Mifflin (20-2) and No. 2 Central Dauphin (18-1) at Spring Grove will then immediately face the winner of K-D-vs.-South Western match at Spring Grove at 7 p.m.


Cedar Cliff 37, Spring Grove 31: At Central Dauphin in the opening round, the No. 10 seed Rockets started off strong by winning six of the first eight bouts to take a 25-12 advantage over No. 7 seed Cedar Cliff. Later in the match, Levi Witmer (132) scored a pin to give Spring Grove a 31-19 lead with three bouts remaining. Cedar Cliff answered with back-to-back pins to draw even, bringing the match down to the final bout at 152 pounds, where Jared Meise pinned Rockets’ grappler Jared Barley in 1:51. Owen Jacobs (285) and Dalton Rohrbaugh (106) also had pins for the Rockets, while teammate Ryan Daugherty (160) scored a major decision and Marcus Kehr (170) won his bout in overtime, 9-7. Spring Grove finishes the season with a 13-4 overall record. Despite the loss, the Rockets are still plus-.500 all-time in the District 3 team tournament, falling to 14-13 in 27 matches.

Penn Manor 30, Red Lion 28: At Gov. Mifflin in the opening round, the No. 6 seed Lions won the first four bouts to go up 16-0, lost the next five to fall behind 23-16, won the next three to take a 28-23 advantage, then dropped the final two bouts to No. 11 seed Penn Manor — the final deciding bout being a major decision by Brandon Harsh over Red Lion’s Corey Shane at 126 pounds. Jacob McIntyre (132) had the lone pin for Red Lion. The Lions are now 0-4 in their last four appearances in the District 3-AAA Team Tournament, having dropped first-round matches in 2015, 2014, 2010 and 2009. The Lions last won a district tournament match in 2008. They finish the season with a 18-3 overall record.

South Western 42, Mechanicsburg 21: At South Western in the opening round, the Mustangs led throughout the match by winning nine of the 14 bouts, getting pins from Owen Wherley (132), Gage Thomas (152) and Seth Janney (220). Mechanicsburg pulled to within 24-18 through nine bouts, but South Western won four of the last five to move on to the quarterfinal round.

Exeter 30, South Western 28: At South Western in the quarterfinal round, the Mustangs opened up an early 16-3 advantage by winning three of the first four bouts, getting a pin by Owen Wherley (132), a major decision by Clint Wright (145) and a pin by Gage Thomas (152). Exeter won the next three to pull within 19-16 before South Western again ripped off wins in three of the next four bouts, getting a one-point decision from Tom Aumen (195), a pin from Seth Janney (220) and a four-point decision from Ben Doll (106) to push the lead to 28-19. That is where the Mustangs’ fortunes turned, as Exeter won the last three bouts, with the final two decided by a point each.

Cumberland Valley 67, Kennard-Dale 10: At Cumberland Valley in the quarterfinal round, Nathan Stewart (160) won his opening bout by major decision to spot the Rams an early 4-0 lead. Cumberland Valley responded with six straight pins and didn’t look back, with the Rams getting their other six points when Mike Bracey won his 126-pound bout by forfeit.


Brad Keeney is shown here in 1999 after finishing fourth in the state in Class AAA at 171 pounds for Susquehannock.

Brad Keeney is shown here in 1999 after finishing fourth in the state in Class AAA at 171 pounds for Susquehannock. (SUBMITTED)

He had never missed school, especially not during the wrestling season.

Something told Brad Keeney, though, to stay home on this winter day in January of 1998.

“I stayed home one day. My grandfather, I was hanging out with him. My grandmother was in the hospital. He was like ‘hey, let’s go up and see grandma,'” Keeney said recently. “I just felt like I was supposed to miss school that day. I never did. We went to a restaurant and we went and saw grandma.”

Upon returning to his grandfather’s Shrewsbury home later that chilly afternoon, the then-17-year-old Keeney noticed the leaves on the ground in the front yard. His 78-year-old grandfather, Joseph Keeney, went inside while Brad stayed out for a few minutes to clean up the yard.

Susquehannock coach Brad Keeney talks to one of his wrestlers during a recent match. The Warriors are enjoying a turnaround season under Keeney and

Susquehannock coach Brad Keeney talks to one of his wrestlers during a recent match. The Warriors are enjoying a turnaround season under Keeney and currently boast a 12-7 record, which is the Warriors’ most wins since the 1992-1993 season. (BIL BOWDEN — For The York Dispatch)

“When I came home I decided to sweep his leaves up while he (my grandfather) was inside,” Brad said. “When I came back in he was dead.”

Brad found his grandfather unresponsive in the kitchen. Brad laid him on the floor and immediately began an attempt to resuscitate him. He also called 9-1-1, followed by an immediate phone call to his dad, Jan, who lived just up the road.

“He must have sprinted,” Brad said of his dad. “He came in and when I saw his reaction … I couldn’t talk for months.”

Brad’s grandfather died of a heart attack.

“I felt like it was my fault,” Brad said. “It was my fault he died because I was the last one that was with him. I was supposed to take care of him. I couldn’t have been out there for two minutes.”

‘You achieve what you believe’: Brad Keeney, now 34, stood in the middle of the wrestling room at Susquehannock Middle School on a Friday night in January a couple weeks ago. The second-year coach of the Susquehannock varsity wrestling team was surrounded by about two dozen of his high school wrestlers, forming a large circle around the coach with 45-pound plates laying on the wrestling mats in front of them. A grueling practice neared an end, and Keeney paced back-and-forth in front of his wrestlers, about to challenge them to finish strong.

“The bottom line is this. You achieve what you believe before you walk on the mat. Bottom line, the guy who wins the state title and the guy who gets second, the guy who wins is the guy who knew he was gonna win before he went out on the mat,” Keeney said. “I don’t care what anybody says. I wrestled at that level in college. I can you tell you right now the only difference in any match is who believes they can win. Who truly believes they can win. Who doesn’t hesitate when they shoot. That’s the guy who wins the match. What makes you get that tough? There’s only one thing. What makes you get confidence? What is it?”

One of his wrestlers answered: “Hard work.”

Susquehannock is quietly in the midst of one of its best seasons in a while. To this point, the Warriors are 12-7 overall, marking the most overall wins for the program since the 1992-93 campaign (12-5-1). Susquehannock finished its York-Adams schedule with a 3-3 Division II record, the most league wins since the 2002-03 season (4-4 league). It should be noted here Susquehannock would’ve been 4-2 in league action had it not lost its league opener against York Suburban on criteria when the match ended in a 33-all tie, with the Trojans getting credit for the win on the eighth criteria — or tiebreaker H, for the most points scored in bouts.

Susquehannock has two regular-season matches remaining at Shippensburg later this week and at York Tech on Feb. 3. Win both of those and the Warriors can get to 14 regular-season victories for the first time since 1989.

And Keeney, a 1999 Susquehannock grad, is the man leading the charge in bringing Susquehannock out from the cellar. It’s a man he’s become through the unexpected twists and turns he’s faced in his life, from Glen Rock to Michigan and back. And a man he says has been molded by his faith in God.

‘I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat’: The accompanying thoughts of guilt that Keeney felt following his grandfather’s death stayed with him for months.

“I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I tried to go to school. I felt like I was responsible for his death,” Keeney said. “So when I would go to school I’d just sit in class and I’d have to cry.”

Keeney says he grew up attending church in Shrewsbury every Sunday with his mom, dad and older brother. However, it wasn’t until his grandfather’s passing when Keeney truly felt God at work.

“My mom was like my prayer warrior. My dad has always been a real humble, quiet person. He would just come in and say ‘it wasn’t your fault, buddy. You don’t need to think that.’ I knew he was struggling himself. He never let me see him cry. That’s my dad,” Keeney said. “Anyway, my mom told me ‘listen, God wants to take your burdens.’ I said ‘OK.’ She said ‘just pray with me.’ I don’t know. You feel weird things. People say God’s not real. Bull crap. We prayed together and right after that I could sleep. I felt it come out of me. That really convinced me that God is real.”

His conscience finally clear, Keeney completed that 1997-98 season wrestling strong, finishing as a District 3-AAA runner-up and qualifying for the state tournament — following in the footsteps of his dad, who had wrestled in states for Susquehannock in the 1970s.

Jan Keeney was also the one to suggest Brad try wrestling in elementary school.

“I played basketball every year and I fouled out every single game,” Brad Keeney said. “My dad goes, ‘you’re wrestling.'”

In his senior year at Susquehannock, Keeney became a two-time District 3-AAA runner-up and placed fourth at states at 171 pounds in 1999. A framed picture of Keeney with the fourth-place medal around his neck, and his face battered and bruised, still hangs on the wall in the wrestling room, collecting dust in between other framed pictures of former Susquehannock state qualifiers.

Keeney’s performance grabbed the attention of several college coaches, and he quickly settled on wrestling collegiately for Eastern Michigan University, where he would meet his eventual wife, the same woman who would play a vital role in getting his life back on track following a career-ending back injury.

‘I broke three bones in my back’: The injury came in the middle of a match during Keeney’s redshirt sophomore season at Eastern Michigan.

“He rolled. I tried to roll with him and I hit the back of my head on the mat. I broke three bones in my back,” Keeney said. “I wasn’t paralyzed. It hurt. I felt it immediately. The match was over. I walked off to the side. I was fine. It didn’t sever my spine or anything. It cracked one of my vertebrae in half. It didn’t shatter. It hurt. Don’t get me wrong. It hurt but I felt OK. I felt a tingling in my butt. I get up and walk over to the bleachers. I laid down and when I tried to get back up I couldn’t walk.”

Keeney is still able to “roll around” today, but takes it easy on the mat, although doctors have told him he might need back surgery later in life.

At the time of the injury, though, it caused him to lose contact with fellow student-athletes as part of Athletes In Action, an organization that provides an opportunity for student-athletes to use sports as a platform to share fellowship in, and answer questions about, Jesus Christ.

“I couldn’t wrestle anymore. I kinda got off the path a little bit,” Keeney said of losing his faith. “You don’t realize how much God is in control until you’re not in control. When you get to a point when you’re not in control you know it’s time to get back in. I didn’t really experience anything massive when I was off my walk. Little things would happen, whether it’d be with a job or place to live. It was one of those things when God was there, things would work out.”

Fortunately for Keeney, his girlfriend, and now wife, “straightened him out” and got his relationship with God steered back in the right direction.

‘That was the stupidest thing I ever did was coach that year’: Following graduation from Eastern Michigan in 2005 — with a bachelor’s degree in special education and minor in psychology — Keeney felt he had it all only five years later. He worked full time as a high school teacher in Michigan. His wife had recently given birth to their second child. And he led powerhouse Oxford (Mich.) High School to the All-Oakland County Division 1 team state wrestling title in the 2010-11 season in his first year as a head coach.

In the week following the wrestling season, though, everything changed. There were problems Keeney needed to take care of at home. The only solution was to move back to York County.

A year later, Keeney was the head coach of Red Lion, taking over for Biff Walizer, who led the Lions to a share of the York-Adams League Division I title four times, compiling a 66-17 record in Division I matches in the last 10 of his 12 years as head coach. Although nowhere near the level of Oxford, pressures were still tense for Keeney to live up to the high bar set by Walizer at Red Lion.

On Jan. 3, 2012, Keeney exited the visiting locker room at Dover High School and walked back into the gymnasium, now nearly empty, to take a seat on the first row of wooden bleachers. Red Lion lost that night, 37-27, to drop to 2-3 in league action.

“We have to be going the other way now,” Keeney had said following the loss. “We have to get our kids to the point where they’re hungry for that win. I think some of our kids are there, but they’re not all on board yet.”

Coaches don’t like to lose, of course. But Keeney seemed especially upset that night, bending over at one point to put his head in his hands, defeated. What we didn’t know, however, was that the problems at home, the ones he moved back to York County to fix, were still broken.

“That’s why at Red Lion I wasn’t able to do much,” Keeney said.

Keeney requested the details of those problems at home be left out of this story. But just know he was dealing with them during the 2011-12 season, when Red Lion went 4-6 in league action, marking the first losing record in league competition for Red Lion in 11 years. After only one year at the helm of Red Lion, Keeney immediately resigned at the conclusion of the season.

“That was the stupidest thing I ever did was coach that year,” Keeney said. “From a family standpoint that’s the stupidest thing I did. And I was miserable because I didn’t have a teaching job yet. I (originally) said: ‘OK, if I get my head in the door somehow (at Red Lion) maybe I can get a job.’ The only thing they had was a long-term sub (at Red Lion) and that fell through. So then going back and forth from home (in Shrewsbury) to Red Lion was a mess.”

‘Turning this program around’: Keeney sat out from coaching the next wrestling season, mainly to resolve things back home. He wouldn’t stay away for long, though. At the end of the 2012-13 wrestling season, the head coaching position at Susquehannock opened up. Keeney was immediately interested.

The coaching opportunity felt right this time. Keeney lives in Shrewsbury — he and his wife now have three daughters ages 2, 4 and 7 — and works full-time as a special education teacher at Susquehannock High School. It’s a career he’s had a passion for since having a best friend in high school with cerebral palsy.

With the problems back home resolved, Keeney couldn’t pass up on the chance to coach his alma mater. Sure, it may have been a challenge. It was the complete opposite of Oxford, a program with a winning tradition respected for consistently dominating opponents on the mat. Instead, Keeney would have to take over a program with a losing tradition and try to build Susquehannock into a winner.

He heard of stories of the program in its heyday, though. Of Doug Krebs, Susquehannock’s lone state champion, winning it all at 145 pounds in 1975. He’s heard of the 11- and 12-win seasons in league action by Susquehannock and second-place finishes in the standings behind Dallastown in the 1980s. He knows of the York-Adams Division I title the Warriors split with West York and Spring Grove in 1991-92. If the Warriors could do it before, why couldn’t they do it again? Keeney took the gig in April 2013. And the changes he implemented were immediately noticed.

“My sophomore year before Keeney got here we were so used to losing seasons,” said Collin Riley, now a senior starter for Susquehannock. “We weren’t worried about winning or losing. It was more about an individual sport at that point. As soon as Keeney got here, he made it a team sport again. It wasn’t about individuals. It was about turning this program around.”

Susquehannock won eight matches overall and went 1-9 in league action in Keeney’s first season a year ago. A pair of seniors also competed in the individual District 3-AAA Tournament.

“It had been years since they won a match,” Keeney said. “So the first thing was just getting the kids confident enough to feel like ‘hey, we can win a match.’ And a big thing was just getting numbers. Prior to me getting here, they struggled to put a full lineup together, and a full lineup of kids that actually wrestled before.”

About 25 wrestlers make up the varsity and junior varsity this season. And Keeney says the numbers at the junior high and youth levels are encouraging. Plus, he feels the right coaches are in place alongside him on varsity and at those lower levels — including former Susquehannock state qualifier Eric Shive — to better prepare those wrestlers.

‘We’re the new Warriors’: On Jan. 13, the Dover wrestling team arrived in Glen Rock with perfect 3-0 league record and appeared to be the favorites to win this year’s York-Adams Division II title.

“I’ll be honest. Walking into the match I told the kids ‘we can win this.’ In my mind I don’t know if I believed it or not,” Keeney said.

Before every home match, the Susquehannock wrestlers gather in Keeney’s classroom, sometimes to watch a funny movie or just hang out — a method Keeney is employing in an attempt to break his wrestlers of being nervous before a match.

“We started talking and they came together and they were like: ‘We’re gonna do this for each other. This isn’t about my record, this isn’t about your record. When you’re out there wrestling and you’re in a bad position, you’re gonna get out of it for him. For him not for you,'” Keeney said. “And that’s what they did.”

With a starting lineup consisting of three freshmen, six sophomores and four seniors, the Warriors proceeded to win seven of the first nine bouts of the match and went on to beat Dover, 37-24, handing the Eagles their first league loss of the year.

“We knew we were underdogs,” Riley said of the win. “We have been underdogs the whole season. To go out there and get a win like that by that many points, that was pretty great. Everyone had a great match. I don’t think anyone wrestled sloppy or anything. That was us saying: ‘We’re here. We’re here to turn it around. We’re the new Warriors.'”

Keeney, meanwhile, feels God has put him in the position he was supposed to be in all along — at the first place he ever called home.

“It’s been a roller-coaster ride there’s no doubt about it. I thought I had a home up there at Oxford. Not just from a coaching standpoint. It was a great school,” said Keeney, who still has a Michigan area code for his cell phone number. “Things happen that change your life. But happiness does not depend on where I’m living. We threw it up to God and said ‘where should we go?’ It’s strange. I never thought I’d be back in the school I graduated from. To go back and have teachers I had and build that professional relationship with them these are the times if you find if you’re strong in faith or not. I feel like when I look at it, things worked out. The program (Susquehannock wrestling) was definitely not in a great spot. If there’s anything that I can do to help it, that’s what I want to do.”

— Reach John Walk at


Red Lion’s Zach Shaffer, top, handles Northeastern’s Dedrick Turner to win by technical fall the 182-pound match at Northeastern on Thursday.

Red Lion’s Zach Shaffer, top, handles Northeastern’s Dedrick Turner to win by technical fall the 182-pound match at Northeastern on Thursday. Red Lion won the match, 64-9, to improve to 18-2. (BILL KALINA —

MANCHESTER — Red Lion wrestling coach Chris Schell entered the season hoping his team would be in the mix for the York-Adams Division I title.

Thursday night he couldn’t have been much happier about how far his team has come after the Lions concluded their regular-season, dual-meet schedule against Northeastern.

While there was little doubt that Schell’s squad would prevail against the Bobcats — and the Lions did by a convincing 64-9 margin — it was the end result of the victory that made him proud. The Lions earned a second-place finish in the division with a 5-1 mark. They are 18-2 overall.

Placing behind division champion South Western is no small feat for a Lions program that hasn’t been in contention for a division title since 2009. But doing it in the way that they did — rallying back two nights after getting pasted by South Western 52-17 to defeat Spring Grove 31-29 last week — is understandably why Schell is feeling so proud.

“Against South Western … we just weren’t ready for that match,” Schell said. “We wrestled scared. But the kids picked it back up and we wrestled Spring Grove, that is still a very quality team, and we did our job.”

The remarkable thing about the Lions was how the team’s wrestlers took it upon themselves to regain focus after getting stomped by the Mustangs.

“We had a roundtable talk (last Wednesday after the South Western match) and we talked about where we want to be at,” Schell said. “We didn’t talk about (the South Western match), which was over. So we looked at the future and asked where the guys wanted to be at. And they said that they want to keep going and make districts. So I said ‘let’s go’ and we set our focus on Spring Grove and then Dallastown and now Northeastern.”

The Lions sit at No. 6 in the latest District 3-AAA rankings, although they could move up or down a spot or two. Regardless of seed, however, Schell is hoping that his side learned a lesson from the South Western match and will utilize that to at least advance to the quarterfinals, if not further.

“These kids will run through a wall for us,” he said. “They have such dedication. And I have confidence in these kids. It never surprises me when they go out to the mat and do their job.”

The Lions needed just about an hour to get past the Bobcats Thursday. Schell’s side scored six victories by pin — Briar Smith (170), Donovan Miller (195), Jared Schell (285), Riley Seredych (120), Dylan Gurreri (152) and Luke Joines (160) — three by forfeit and two more by technical falls from Zach Shaffer (185) and Cody Stern (145).

Northeastern received decisions from Cameron Aucker (132), Levi Eisenhart (138) and Blaine Yinger (220).

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at

One more league match remained for Kennard-Dale on Thursday night to finish off its history-making league schedule when Gettysburg came to Fawn Grove.

A K-D win and the Rams would claim the outright York-Adams Division II title.

A K-D loss and the Rams would have to split the crown with West York.

Either way, the Rams have never before won a division title. But it would be that much sweeter if they were able to be the lone Division II champion. So the Rams went out and took care of business Thursday night by earning pins in five of the first eight bouts and going on to win by a final score of 52-25.

Daniel Eagle (138 pounds), Nathan Stewart (152), Michael Payan (160), Robbie Jones (182) and Harley Eagle (195) scored pins for the winners. The Rams also won three other bouts by forfeit and Mike Bracey capped the match off with a major decision in his 126-pound bout.

The Rams (13-3 overall) finish the league schedule with a 6-0 record in York-Adams Division II, one match up on second-place West York (11-6, 5-1 Division II).

K-D wasn’t the only team to finish out the York-Adams schedule and win an outright division title on Thursday.

South Western beat Central York, 48-15, to claim the Division I crown with a 6-0 league record, one match in front of second-place Red Lion (5-1 Division I). While South Western has shared the Division I crown twice in the last six years and finished near the top of the division standings on several other occasions, this is the first time since 1997 the Mustangs have won the division outright.

K-D, South Western (15-4 overall), Red Lion (18-2 overall) and Spring Grove (13-3 overall) should all compete in next week’s District 3-AAA team tournament. The foursome entered Thursday ranked in the top 10 of the District 3-AAA ratings. The top 16 teams make the tournament, which begins Tuesday.

Down in York-Adams Division III, Bermudian Springs beat Biglerville, 52-14, to claim an outright division crown for the sixth season in a row, although its only the first in the newly-created Division III. Bermudian improved to 18-1 overall.


Dallastown 43, Dover 26: At Dallastown, the Wildcats won seven of the final eight matches to defeat the Eagles in the last league match of the regular season. The run got started by Nick Shields (145) who won with a pin, which was followed with pins from Drake Pew (152), Cameron Green (160) and Jake Jansen (185). Brandon Rodriguez (120) and Hunter Failor (126) recorded pins for Dover.

Spring Grove 52, New Oxford 24: At Spring Grove, the Rockets rolled behind pins from Dalton Rohrbaugh (106), Hunter Miller (126), Levi Witmer (132), Kyle Zumbrum (138), Trent Baker (145), Marcus Kehr (170) and Hunter Sterner (182). Spring Grove improved to 13-3 overall and finished 4-2 in York-Adams Division I, good for third place. New Oxford got pins from Zurich Storm (113), Michael Rudisill (120) and Dalton Smith (220).

West York 59, York Suburban 16: The visiting Bulldogs received pins from Ryan Narber (160), Jake Chiccoski (195), Cory Jackson (220) and Nathan Townsley (106) while winning four other bouts by forfeit to defeat the host Trojans. Colin Shelton (113) had the lone pin for Suburban.

South Western 48, Central York 15: The host Mustangs received pins from Chase Mowery (113), Gavin Smith (126), Gage Thomas (152), Seth Janney (220) and Ben Doll (106). Although South Western dominated by winning 10 of the 14 bouts, there were a few entertaining matchups. A pair of them went to overtime, with the Mustangs’ Clint Wright (145) beating Steven Clawson, 3-2, and Central’s Colton Morris (285) scoring a 2-1 decision over Scotty Dickmyer. South Western’s Owen Wherley, who placed third at districts a year ago, earned a 3-0 decision at 132 pounds over Xavier Musti, who finished a win shy of districts last season.

Susquehannock 57, Eastern York 23: Eric Younkin (132), Collin Riley (138) and Andrew Senft (220) each had a pin and teammate Joey Romjue (145) scored a technical fall to lead the host Warriors. Susquehannock finishes with a 3-3 record in York-Adams Division II. It’s the first time since 2003 the Warriors have earned a .500 league record. Susquehannock also improves to 12-7 overall, marking the most overall wins for the program since the 1992-93 season (12-5-1). The visiting Golden Knights picked up pins from Connor Barshinger (160), Lucas Barshinger (195) and Lee Dice (285).


HANOVER — A good wrestling match between York-Adams Division I rivals South Western and Spring Grove is often like a good roller-coaster ride.

There usually are some ups and some downs, but it’s the team that keeps its poise that usually survives.

Tuesday night at South Western High School it was the home team that did all the necessary things to win. The Mustangs raced out to a big lead, fell behind, but then rallied to secure a 39-25 victory.

South Western (14-4 overall, 5-0 division) clinched at least a share of the Division I title with the victory.

“We knew this would be a tough match,” Spring Grove coach Tony Miller said. “We hoped we would win some matches in there that we liked and have one or two maybe to not give up a bonus point or for it to go our way. But our kids didn’t give up.”

Thinks looked quite bleak for Miller’s side when the home team stormed to a 21-3 advantage after just five bouts. Back-to-back pins by Ryan Daugherty at 160 and Marcus Kehr at 170 cut the deficit to 21-15.

The Rockets briefly took the lead after the bout at 195, when Nathan Young scored a 7-2 decision to put the visitors ahead 22-21.

Spring Grove’s surge was halted right there when the Mustang heavyweights took over. Seth Janney scored a fall over Spring Grove’s Josh Cribbs at the 1:39 mark to put his team ahead, while Scotty Dickmyer claimed a 6-3 decision at 285 over Owen Jacobs to extend the advantage.

“To have a kid like Seth to go out there and know that you can count on is very comforting,” South Western coach Nate Murren said.

Despite a nice comeback victory by Dalton Rohrbaugh at 106, the Rockets dropped the final two bouts of the night at 113 and 120.

“Dalton has done that before,” Miller said. “So I’m not surprised that he didn’t quit in that situation. At (285), Owen knew what he had to do. He was trying to pin the heavyweight, so he took one for the team at that point and it got away from him.”

One that got away from the Rockets was the opening bout of the night at 126, where South Western’s Gavin Smith faced off with Spring Grove’s Hunter Miller. Miller led throughout much of the bout and was up 8-6 late in the contest. An escape and then a subsequent takedown by Smith with 10 seconds left earned the Mustang wrestler a 9-8 decision.

While the Mustangs are pleased to walk away with another victory over their rivals, the real prize is competing at a similar level come the District 3-AAA Team Tournament next week.

“The momentum and the atmosphere that was in here tonight … this was definitely a confidence booster for our guys,” Murren said.

Spring Grove fell to 8-2 overall and 3-2 in the division.

South Western can clinch its first outright Division I title since 1997 with a victory at home vs. Central York on Thursday. The Panthers are 0-4 in Division I action.

The loss means Spring Grove will not grab at least a share of the Division I crown for the first time since 2007.

Spring Grove, South Western and New Oxford shared the division championship a year ago.

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at


Kennard-Dale’s Cody Gladstone pinned Susquehannock’s Chris Stevens in the first period in the 285-pound match on Tuesday. K-D won the team

Kennard-Dale’s Cody Gladstone pinned Susquehannock’s Chris Stevens in the first period in the 285-pound match on Tuesday. K-D won the team match, 46-21, to clinch at least a share of the York-Adams Division II championship. (BIL BOWDEN PHOTO)

FAWN GROVE — Before they were catching the attention of everyone with an undefeated league record — even before the first match of the season — Kennard-Dale senior wrestler Cody Gladstone felt something different.

He felt this season wouldn’t be the like others, where K-D consistently finished at or near the bottom of the division standings.

“As the first match of the season (against Eastern York) went on, I knew we were gonna have a real good team this year,” Gladstone said. “Well, actually our first practices, I knew we were gonna have a good team.”

Gladstone (285) was one of four Rams’ wrestlers to earn a pin Tuesday, contributing to K-D’s 46-21 York-Adams League Division II victory over visiting Susquehannock (11-7 overall, 2-3 league).

With the win, the Rams (16-4, 5-0 league) have clinched at least a share of the York-Adams Division II title. It’s the first division title of any kind in program history.

“The feeling of being able to get that division title, it feels great,” Gladstone said. “Honestly. It’s the first time we’ve ever been able to get that. So it just feels great.”

Teammates Nathan Stewart (160 pounds), Elliot Stauffer (170) and Harley Eagle (195) also earned pins on Senior Night in Fawn Grove. The Rams won four other bouts with a pair of technical falls and three major decisions.

A win over Gettysburg (2-8, 2-3) on Thursday in the final league dual of the season would give K-D the Division II crown outright and improve the Rams to a perfect 6-0 in league competition. This after the program gathered a total of six league wins in the previous four seasons combined.

“They want it. They’re working twice as hard,” Rams’ head coach Mike Balestrini said.

In the past, Balestrini has actually declined interviews with the media, saying instead: “It’s not about me, it’s about the kids.”

He did start off Tuesday’s interview by saying the same thing, before chatting for five-plus minutes. It’s understandable, considering Balestrini is in his eighth year as head coach and has been attempting to build this program into a winner while most everyone else was enamored with K-D’s undefeated four-time state champ Chance Marsteller, who graduated last year and is now at Oklahoma State University. Tuesday night, perhaps, was a chance for Balestrini to finally open up, now that all the hard work put in over the years by his wrestlers is paying off.

“From the beginning you started seeing they wanted it. They’re working and they’re not arguing about anything. They’re helping each other and that’s where you see it,” Balestrini said. “They’re a team and that’s a big part of it. And they’re young. There’s still room to grow. They’re having bad matches but they’re still prevailing.”

Plus, K-D has been able to consistently fill all weight classes this season except one (113 pounds), something that couldn’t be said for previous seasons.

“We’ve never won a division title and we’ve never gone to team districts. We were 10th (in the latest District 3-AAA rankings) coming into tonight,” Balestrini said. “We still have Gettysburg and then Saturday we go out to Neshaminy and wrestle five duals. So we still gotta go out there and wrestle a lot of District 1 and (District) 2 teams. We’ll be all right. We’ll wrestle and see what happens. We’re still going out there and hopefully wrestling in the team districts next week. We never have before. That was the goal. They wanted to wrestle in team districts. Hopefully we can achieve it.”


Red Lion 48, Dallastown 22: At Dallastown, Red Lion scored all of its points on pins in taking down its arch rival. Jacob Frock, Denny Dennison, Reily Seredych, Corey Shane, Jesse Stermer, Dylan Gurreri, Luke Joines and Jared Schell recorded the falls for the Lions. Cameron Green and Bryce Shields earned technical falls for Dallastown. Red Lion improved its York-Adams Division I record to 4-1 and overall mark to 17-2. Dallastown is now 3-3 in league matches and 8-9 overall.

West York 43, Dover 27: At West York, the Bulldogs won the battle of Route 74 rivals. West York trailed 27-22 after nine bouts, but won the final five bouts to improve to 10-6 overall and 4-1 in York-Adams Division II. Dover fell to 6-10 and 3-3. The Bulldogs got pins from LaQuan Rumsey (126), Noah Townsley (145), Garrett Stauffer (152) and Jake Cicchoski (182). Dover’s pins came from Matthew Rodriguez (106), Tyler Becker (113) and Austin Richcreek (220).

Central York 61, Eastern York 17: At Wrightsville, the Panthers were helped by five Eastern forfeits. The Panthers got pins from Xavier Musti (132), Dylan Chatterton (138), Isaiah Dickson (170) and Nate Stephens (220). Dickson needed just nine seconds for his pin. Lee Dice (285) had a pin for Eastern.

Delone Catholic 65, York Tech 18: At Spry, the Squires received pins from Ryan Hart (126), Zach Hart (152), Lucas Shull (160), Josh Sneeringer (170), Corey Livelsberger (195), Michael Rider (220), and Bryce Perkins (285). For the Spartans, Kyle Chesnavage (182) picked up a pin.

Gettysburg 42, York Suburban 30: At Gettysburg, the Warriors picked up pins from Daniel Ziegler (126), Skylar Middaugh (170), Jake Sharrah (182) and Kyle Weishaar (220) to secure the York-Adams Division II victory. For the Trojans, Colin Shelton (120), Dustin Knaub (132) and Liam McWilliams (160) each picked up pins.

— Reach John Walk at


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