So much of the young season for the York College wrestling team has been about overcoming adversity.
The Spartans were clearly rusty in losing their first three matches of the year after the program was reinstated following a 10-day interim suspension. That suspension was handed down while the school investigated hazing incidents that resulted in an unknown number of wrestlers disciplined or expelled. A part of the losses, though, had to do with the fact that first-year head coach Duane Bastress was already planning on sending out a fairly young team to the mat this year.
York then showed some potential this past weekend in splitting four of their matches at the Mount Union Duals in Ohio. Finally, on Tuesday in their home opener at the Grumbacher Center, the Spartans began to build some momentum with an impressive 21-12 win over visiting Elizabethtown.
E-Town entered ranked No. 12 in NCAA Division III in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association poll and No. 13 by d3wrestle.com. But the Blue Jays also came in with a 2-2 mark, with both losses coming against top-30 teams. And they were missing two starters who are near the top of the rankings in their individual weight classes.
Still, Tuesday's win was about much more than rankings for York.
"I think we're starting to come together," freshman Mitch Ramsey said. "You can tell the kids care about the matches and that's what we need. When we get everybody back we can do big things."
E-Town won four of the first seven bouts to take its first lead of the night, 12-11, before Ramsey, a District 3-AAA third-place finisher a year ago at 160 pounds for Mechanicsburg, stemmed the tide by defeating E-Town's William Herman, 8-4. Ramsey was one of five freshman and one of eight underclassmen starting for the Spartans. York (3-5) won the last two matches to seal the first home win in Bastress' head-coaching tenure.
"Their 184(-pounder) is out and heavyweight is out," Bastress said. "But it's a big win for our guys. I'm excited. They were excited for the opportunity."
Speaking about the interim suspension, Bastress admitted his wrestlers needed some time to get back into shape.
"Probably like two weeks. I told guys to make sure you're out running. You're trying to keep your conditioning up so it's not as much of a shock," Bastress said. "We did go a lot of double-days to get ready. But you could see each match we're getting more comfortable out there."
One positive taken out of the suspension, though, is that it appears to have brought the Spartans closer together.
"Yeah, you hear guys talking more of 'Hey, we're a family.' And that's what we're preaching," Bastress said. "We're a family and that's what we want. I think it brought everybody, even the coaching staff, closer."
York will next focus on hosting about a dozen teams in the New Standard Corporation Invitational -- what Bastress calls "the Sparta" -- on Dec. 7 in its final event of 2013 before returning to the mats on Jan. 4 at Franklin & Marshall.
"I told them this is kind of a launching pad for the Sparta," Bastress said. "After that we're gonna get ready for the second semester."
Bastress said senior Chuck Glatz, a national qualifier last season, is sitting out the first half of the season to focus on academics but will return to the mat in January.
E-Town sophomore Buck Kauffman, an Eastern York grad, improved to 3-5 on the season with a 6-3 decision over York freshman Austin Barley, a Spring Grove grad.
--Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.