Brad Keeney was there at Susquehannock the last time the Warriors had a resurgence on the wrestling mat.
A two-time District 3 runner-up who placed fourth at states his senior year in 1999, Keeney also helped the Warriors win three York-Adams League matches that 1998-99 season. It marked the most league wins for the program in five years.
After Keeney's graduation, the Warriors went on to post four league wins in each season for the next four years through the 2002-03 season. The Susquehannock wrestling program hasn't experienced much success since then, winning a combined seven league matches the last 11 seasons.
Keeney, who took over the Susquehannock coaching reins this past season, has his work cut out for him as he continues his goal of building the Warriors into a winner.
The fortunes for the program could be aided a bit beginning next season, though, when the York-Adams League undergoes a monumental change in divisional alignments in order to adjust to the addition of Gettysburg joining the league.
A third division will be added to the league starting next season. Division I will largely stay the same, with Spring Grove, South Western, New Oxford, Northeastern, Dallastown, Red Lion and Central York. Moving out of Division I and into Division II will be Susquehannock, Dover, Kennard-Dale and West York, who will be joined by Eastern York, York Suburban and Gettysburg.
Division III is basically the old Division II without Eastern and Suburban: Hanover, York Tech, Fairfield, Biglerville, Bermudian Springs, Littlestown and Delone Catholic.
"When I looked at it I see pros and cons," Keeney said of moving from Division I to Division II. "The pros are we are absolutely right in the middle of rebuilding and going up against traditional powerhouses like Spring Grove, it's tough to monitor progress. The major benefit is gonna be, we are gonna be competitive in Division II. Kids are going to understand what it means to be successful. It's going to give them more of an opportunity to reap those benefits of hard work and make it meaningful."
The change isn't perfect, though. For example, Eastern York will be going back down to the Class AA level in next year's postseason, where the Golden Knights will face grapplers from Division III teams.
"So moving to Division II hurts us," Eastern coach Dan Garner said. "We won't have head-to-head competition (in the regular season) any longer with those schools (we'll face in the postseason)."
Then again, teams will go from wrestling 8-to-10 league matches a season down to six — each team will face each divisional opponent once. So the new alignment will provide teams with more open dates on the schedule.
"Having less league matches doesn't bother me," Keeney said. "It puts less dates on us and gives us more time to practice and that's what we need. It also gives us more time to get in more tournaments."
Plus, less dual meets mean less of an opportunity to lose and drop in the district power rankings. Look at Solanco and Milton Hershey, for example. Solanco (5-1) and Milton Hershey (6-0) wrestled in just six matches this past season, Solanco in the Lancaster-Lebanon League and Milton Hershey in the Mid-Penn Conference. Both qualified for the 16-team field of the District 3-AAA Team Tournament, alongside 14 teams in the tournament that wrestled at least 10 league matches.
"With the District 3 power rankings, teams are getting away from wrestling 20 to 30 matches a year," West York coach Brian Gross said.
Finally, the new divisional alignment means programs such as West York and Dover, which have finished in the middle of the pack in Division I in recent seasons, will now be the likely top dogs in Division II.
"I have mixed feelings about it," Gross said. "I like wrestling Spring Grove, South Western, Dallastown and New Oxford because it tests you. It lets you know your place within the county. At the same time it would be nice to go out in Division II and do well."
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.