Landis
Landis

Like most wrestlers at this time of year, Eastern York High School graduate Phil Landis has already battled through plenty of nagging injuries this season.

The most recent came on Feb. 15, when Landis, a redshirt sophomore at Elizabethtown College, sprained his right ankle in a dual meet against visiting Messiah and York.

"I tweaked it in the first match (against Messiah's Travis Ebersole) and thought it was a little funny and then (sprained) it in the second match (against York's Kyle Minogue)."

Landis would have just two weeks to recover in time for the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships at Ohio Northern University, where he finished as the 197-pound runner-up. That finish qualified him for the upcoming NCAA Division III Individual Championship Tournament.

Eastern York grad Phil Landis, a 197-pound redshirt sophomore wrestler at Elizabethtown College, has qualified for the upcoming NCAA Division III
Eastern York grad Phil Landis, a 197-pound redshirt sophomore wrestler at Elizabethtown College, has qualified for the upcoming NCAA Division III Individual Championship Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Elizabethtown College)

Landis said he isn't surprised by his performance at the regional tournament, despite competing with a bum ankle. But qualifying for the D-III tournament is certainly something he didn't envision a year ago when he had thoughts of possibly walking away from the sport.

Technical: Eastern York coach Dan Garner describes Landis as having "the best technique" of any wrestler he's seen.

"You could always see a good wrestler inside of Phil," Garner said. "I think he was 10-16 his sophomore year. But he had such a passion and desire for wrestling. His work ethic is through the roof."

Landis began wrestling in middle school and started participating in the sport year-round in the summer before his freshman year of high school. By his senior year at Eastern in 2009-2010, Landis accomplished his goal of becoming a District 3-AA champion when he won gold at 189 pounds.

He followed that up by starting for E-Town at 197 pounds as a freshman and later placed fourth at the Metropolitan Conference Championships that season.

Taking a break: It was shortly thereafter that Landis, a computer science major, felt like taking a break from the sport.

"I was kind of getting burned out," Landis said. "I felt like I was a smaller 197-pounder, where I was able to eat up and weigh 197 before weigh-in. But the guys I was going against were a legit 197 pounds."

Although Landis didn't practice with the Blue Jays last season, he still stayed active on the mat by competing in a few tournaments. It turned out to be the best thing for him.

"I was in a bad mental state," he said. "I see people get sick of wrestling all the time. And then as soon as they're off for a year there's a drive to go back to it. To me, I got that same drive."

Return: In his full-time return to wrestling this season, Landis has put together a 23-4 individual record and is one of five E-Town wrestlers heading to this weekend's two-day D-III tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Landis is currently ranked No. 10 in his weight class by d3wrestle.com. All nine grapplers ranked ahead of him are also in the 197-pound D-III bracket along with Landis.

"Some of them are guys I've wrestled before," he said. "There's no one that completely outclasses me. It could turn out to be a good day."

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.