When Red Lion High School hired Mike Catullo a year ago, the school knew it was getting an experienced wrestling coach.
His time as an NCAA Division I assistant helped improve a 2-14 squad in 2016-17 into a 5-7 team one a year later.
What Catullo also brought with him to Red Lion was connections to D-I coaches across the nation, which is why Red Lion High School will offer a unusual wrestling program in January.
Arizona State and Lock Haven, two top-20 wrestling teams, will travel to Red Lion High School for a combined clinic and dual meet, dubbed the “Rumble in the Jungle,” on Friday, Jan. 25.
“Bringing something like that to the York area is beneficial to all of the programs in York County and even Lancaster County,” Catullo said.
Catullo's connections: Catullo’s connection at Arizona State is Zeke Jones, the Sun Devils’ head coach. Catullo wrestled at West Virginia University from 1997-2002 when Jones was an assistant coach for the Mountaineers. At Lock Haven, Catullo knows assistant coach Nate Carr Jr., who was an assistant at the University of Maryland when Catullo was also on staff for the Terps from 2009-2016.
“Lock Haven has a good number of District 3 guys in the Lancaster-York area,” Catullo said. “Arizona State, in the last three or four years, has heavily recruited Pennsylvania. We were able to get their schedules lined up and find a date and get Arizona State to travel out to the East Coast.”
Marsteller will be back in York County: One of Lock Haven’s wrestlers from District 3 is redshirt senior Chance Marsteller, a four-time PIAA champion from Kennard-Dale who finished 166-0 in his legendary high school career.
Marsteller was a 2018 All-American for Lock Haven after finishing fourth in the nation at 165 pounds, and on Sunday was named the Eastern Wrestling League’s Athlete of the Week.
Red Lion's facilities: Logistically, Catullo said the Fitzkee Athletic Center can host a Division I dual meet, which he said typically draws more than 1,000 people. He’s hoping for more than that at a gymnasium that can hold between 2,400-2,700, not including standing room only.
“The facilities themselves are that of a small college, pretty much,” he said. “We’re going to try and pack this gym. For locker rooms, each team will have a big, beautiful locker room — not something small, so they’ll be able to spread out. They’ll have a wrestling room to work out in and training facilities.”
It's happened before: Catullo added that it isn’t unheard of for Division I programs to wrestle at high schools.
“Coaching in the Big Ten for seven years, there were more college dual meets starting to pop up at high schools or neutral areas,” he said. “One of the dual meets we wrestled in at Maryland was against Ohio State at Good Counsel High School (in Olney, Maryland).”
Hoping it becomes annual event: The second-year head coach hopes this event can become an annual one.
“This is something we’re going to look to do every year or every two years depending on if we could get the teams in,” he said. “It’s good for awareness, being able to have something like that and identified with our program and our school district.”
More details: Catullo said the clinic will be held before the dual meet on Jan. 25. The time of the dual meet is 7 p.m. Ticket prices, parking information and details about the clinic can be found at www.redlionwrestling.org.
“We’re hoping that by the time January comes by, both of these teams are in the top 10 ranking wise,” Catullo said.
In the latest Intermat dual-meet rankings, Arizona is No. 8, while Lock Haven is No. 16. Intermat has Marsteller ranked No. 3 in the nation at 165.
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.