Walizer
Walizer

Three spots on the Millersville University wrestling roster are occupied by former York-Adams League athletes.

And at least three more will be added next season when West York senior Kyle Narber and Spring Grove seniors Zack Clingan and Mike Hartman finish up their prep careers this winter.

It might seem to some that the Marauders, on a Lancaster County campus located just across the Susquehanna River, are becoming the eastern destination for local grapplers aiming to take their talents to the collegiate level.

And a closer look explains why. Third-year assistant coach Biff Walizer previously coached the Red Lion High School wrestling program for 12 seasons, leading the Lions to four Division I titles. Millersville's head coach is Todd Roberts, a former Dallastown and York College wrestler now in his sixth season with the Marauders. Roberts took over in 2008 for Neil Barnes, who won a PIAA title at Dallastown in 1993 before later defeating acute lymphocytic leukemia and bacterial meningitis. The Millersville coach before Barnes? Steve Capoferri, who was a former head coach at York Suburban.

One would think the longtime York County connections to Millersville would equal the Marauders having plenty of York-Adams flavor on their rosters over the years. But since 2008, Millersville has featured just six York-Adams grapplers, and only one of them wrestled all four years there. Roberts and Walizer are now aiming to buck the trend in the opposite direction.

"Having coached over there I've got some connections obviously," Walizer said before the start of Thursday's practice. "I get to see a lot of dual matches throughout the year (in York County). I'm able to keep my ear to the ground. The No. 1-ranked (prep) wrestler in the country right now is in York County, so you don't have to look far to find talent."

Of course, Walizer was referring to Kennard-Dale senior phenom and NCAA Division I Oklahoma State recruit Chance Marsteller. Up until two years ago, Millersville's wrestling team also competed at the Division I level. The Marauders moved down to Division II in the 2012-13 season after other Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference schools did so to form an eight-team PSAC at the D-II level. Four other PSAC wrestling teams still compete at the D-I level.

The change played a role in South Western grad Aram Moffitt going to Millersville. Moffitt,the starting 197-pounder for Millersville, took fourth place at 220 pounds in last year's District 3-AAA Tournament for the Mustangs. He was recruited by PSAC D-I programs Clarion and Edinboro, but decided between D-II PSAC schools Millersville and Shippensburg.

"I didn't want to do D-I because (most D-I schools) are so far away and at that level it's a job. You have to work, really. I want to have a life," Moffitt said.

On the mat: Moffitt is 8-5 so far and placed fourth among 20 wrestlers last Sunday at an individual tournament at Lock Haven -- one of his two losses that day was by pin to Lock Haven's Phil Sprenkle, a Dallastown grad who went on to win the 197-pound bracket.

"I kind of expected to start this season," Moffitt said. "That's what I wanted to do. I achieved my first goal. I worked my butt off all summer to get there."

Freshman Keegan Worley (Spring Grove) and Donald Minnier (Eastern York) are the two other former York-Adams wrestlers on the roster. Both are in back-up roles in their respective weight classes and each have identical 1-4 individual records.

Perhaps the current trio of former York-Adams League grapplers will mark the beginning of a turnaround for a Millersville program, that has gone 17-54-1 in Roberts' first five seasons.

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