Joe Druck has been in attendance for nearly every Dallastown wrestling match so far this season. A part of him is there to watch his son, Bailey, a freshman Wildcat wrestler. Another part of him is there to follow a program he once wrestled for more than two decades ago.
And as closely as he's been paying attention to Dallastown, he's also been keeping a close eye on another school that's an hour's drive north -- Central Dauphin.
With a 70-0 victory over Cedar Cliff on Wednesday night, Central Dauphin now has 77 consecutive team wins in District 3, tying the record set by Dallastown in 1989. The Rams will likely break the record at their dual tournament this weekend.
Druck finished second in states as a senior in 1987 and played a part in that record, which first began in 1984.
Although he's proud of what the Wildcats accomplished back then, he wouldn't mind seeing the record fall.
"I think it's inevitable. It's interesting it has been this many years," he said. "For a quality program like Central Dauphin, I think they deserve it. They've done well for themselves."
The Wildcats' streak ended in 1989 when they lost in the county championship match against South Western, 36-11. Bill Bence, then the Dallastown head coach, hasn't forgotten about it, either.
"They had a better team than we did," Bence, 74, said by phone recently from his Red Lion home. "That was maybe my least-experienced team in all the years I coached ... they flat out beat us."
Bence compiled a 315-28-1 record as head coach of the Wildcats from 1970 to 1989. During that span, Dallastown won or shared 13 York County championships. The Wildcats also placed numerous wrestlers in districts and states.
The key difference between now and then, however, was that there were no team tournaments in districts and states. The District 3 team dual meets first started in the 1989-90 season. State dual meets didn't start until the 1998-99 season.
During Central Dauphin's current run, the Rams have won four straight district and state dual-meet titles.
"Theirs is more impressive," Bence said of Central Dauphin's streak. "They're the state champions. They're the team to beat."
What made Bence's teams so strong?
"He had a way of getting the best out of each kid. Different kids needed different types of motivation," said George McCormack, who wrestled for Bence.
McCormack went 30-1 as a heavyweight in his senior season ('85), his only loss coming in the state championship match. McCormack went on to play football at Temple before transferring to Pitt to wrestle. He has been the wrestling coach at Baldwin High School, located near Pittsburgh, for the last 19 years. And he credits many of his coaching techniques to Bence.
"Sometimes it was just getting under your skin and trying harder next time to prove him wrong," McCormack said.
Bence also had a talented coaching staff around him, according to former Dallastown wrestler Ben Druck ('86), Joe's cousin.
"He was surrounded by good men. It started with the assistants," Ben Druck said. "We even had an intramural program. Those guys were in place for many years together and they had a system in place that really worked."
Central Dauphin will host a six-team dual tournament on Saturday. A win in that tournament over District 3 opponent Middletown will make the Rams the new record holder. McCormack hopes it happens. But should Central Dauphin somehow lose?
"Better luck next time," he said.
-- Reach John Walk at 505-5406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.