Duane Bastress rises between 4:30 and 5 a.m. for an early morning jog or to hit the weights in the basement of his Dover home, where he lives with his wife. Then it's off to River Rock Academy's Shiremanstown campus near Camp Hill, where Bastress has worked as a behavior manager the last four years. He later tries to make it to the Grumbacher Center on the York College campus by 3:15 p.m., arriving about 30 minutes before the start of wrestling practice to take care of any odds and ends that comes with being a college coach.
Such is the tireless work ethic of Bastress that made him a Division III national champion for the Spartans in 2005 and 2006. Still built like a brick seven years later, the wide-eyed, energetic 30-year-old is trying to bring the same relentless approach to his duties as a first-year head coach of the York College wrestling program.
"It's a lifestyle. It's something where I'm so used to always being trained and I think it's good for our guys to see 'Hey, our coach is in shape,'" Bastress said last Wednesday evening inside the Grumbacher's wrestling room, made muggy and damp from a grueling pre-season practice.
"I'll run with them. I'll lift with them. They'll see 'OK, he's still pushing himself.'"
The program's third coach in the last 42 years, Bastress embarks upon what he hopes to be a long coaching career when the Spartans' 2013-14 season kicks off this Saturday in Wilkes-Barre at the Monarch Invitational at Wilkes University.
"I know I probably won't sleep the whole night before. I probably won't sleep on the bus ride up. Hopefully I won't be a nervous wreck," Bastress said. "I'm anxious to see what we can do. I want to see if my mentality has started to wear off on guys."
Bastress, a 2001 Bermudian Springs grad, will make his home debut as the team's new coach when York hosts Elizabethtown on Nov. 26. An assistant coach for the Spartans since graduating from York College in 2006, Bastress takes over for Tom Kessler, a three-time National Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year who compiled a 322-140-3 record in 23 highly successful seasons as head coach.
Kessler slowly handed over the reigns to Bastress in the last few seasons, to the point where Bastress ran most of the practices last year.
"There's not too much of a difference," sophomore Trevor Hernandez said. "Coach Kessler always let coach Bastress really get a hang of things."
The only noticeable difference with Bastress as coach has been the off-season weight-training program.
"It's more a lot of what I used to do when I competed," Bastress said. "And I've contacted coaches at Cornell and Maryland saying, 'Hey, what have you guys done? What's worked?' And they were awesome in recommending things."
Goals: The Spartans return seven of 10 starters from last year's squad that finished ranked 15th in the D-III coaches' poll. Hernandez, a Biglerville grad, is expected to contend for a starting spot at 133 pounds. He's one of three former York-Adams League wrestlers on the York roster, joining sophomore Korey Eberly (Red Lion) and incoming freshman Austin Barley (Spring Grove). The Spartans sent three grapplers to the individual national championships a year ago.
"I think we could take probably five to the national tournament (this season)," Bastress said. "I expect we can have three or four All-Americans if everything fires at the right time."
Bastress' long-term goals are even higher. He wants York College to be regularly ranked in the top five and to eventually bring home a national title. Bastress is also hoping one of his grapplers can soon follow in his footsteps and win an individual national title.
"We're still waiting on the first guy to do it since me."
- Reach John Walk at email@example.com.