A few weeks ago, Gettysburg’s Dru Hartman tore his meniscus.
As opposed to the ligaments in the knee that require lengthy recoveries, a torn meniscus is a less severe injury and requires a less laborious recovery. Still, it's a torn meniscus and it requires surgery.
He got the surgery around Christmas and was cleared two days ago to wrestle in the Warriors’ York-Adams League Division I dual meet against fellow powerhouse Spring Grove.
Hartman, along with the rest of the Warriors, battled past the Rockets, 38-25, on Thursday. That win helps makes the chase for the D-I crown a more compelling one.
“It was kind of a gutsy performance,” Gettysburg head coach Chris Haines said. "We’re a little banged up. We’ve got some guys back who have been injured, but it was a 12-round heavyweight fight. Both teams slugged at each other the entire time. It was back and forth and was very entertaining.”
Spring Grove has won the last three D-I titles and 10 of the last 11. Gettysburg took the D-II title a season ago.
Effort led Gettysburg: Hartman led Spring Grove’s Calvin Flemmens heading into the third period, and a late reversal sealed the 11-8 decision for the Warriors in his first bout since his knee injury.
“It points out the aspect that sometimes you wrestle with your gut and your heart, not with your cardio or technique,” Haines said.
Spring Grove head coach Tyke Conover said his squad knew Gettysburg would pose a challenge, despite the Warriors currently competing in their first season as a D-I wrestling school. He added that the Rockets lacked effort “in spots.”
“The mindset coming in tonight was we knew we had a good opponent and program coming to town,” Conover said. “We had the kids ready to put 100 percent effort forth. I think we did that in spots, but we didn’t do it consistently for six minutes. That was the difference in the match. In a few spots, I think they may have outhustled us.”
Haines said beating a program like Spring Grove is “huge” for the state of Gettysburg’s team.
“They’ve been the figure head in the York-Adams in terms of winning the league and being successful, so it’s a big win for our program,” said Haines, who believes the dual-meet victory is the Warriors’ first over Spring Grove since 1998 — before any of his wrestlers were born.
Fast start: The Warriors won the first bout at 138 and kept the lead the rest of the match. John Halbrendt pinned Spring Grove’s Brady Pitzer in the second period to give Gettysburg an early 6-0 lead.
The Rockets won at 145 pounds, with Thomas Dressler winning by decision over Luke Sainato, 7-3. Gettysburg then earned two straight victories at 152 and 160. Garrett Young pinned Kahle Zumbrum in 2:33 and Dylan Reinert defeated Anthony Hinson, 11-7.
“Both teams starting at 138, you’ve got hammers coming out for you,” Haines said. “Halbrendt and Pitzer, Dressler and Sainato and even the Young match with Young and Zumbrum. Those are matches where you don’t know how they’re going to go.”
While Haines knows an early lead doesn’t guarantee a victory, he said getting up 15-3 after four bouts helped minimize the effect of the Rockets’ rowdy student section.
“I wouldn’t call it a cushion, because coaches count points, and you know points are coming back later on,” Haines said. “Spring Grove’s student section is amazing. Coming from Division II, you don’t run into it, and it’s awesome. I love their kids cheering and chirping and yelling, and it makes it an awesome environment. When we got the lead, it eliminated that a little bit.”
Spring Grove struggles: Spring Grove’s only two pins came at 170 pounds and 195 pounds. Juan Landaverde pinned Devin Compton in the second period at 170, and Eric Glass earned a first-period pin over Christian Conner at 195. Sandwiched between those two bouts was a Max Gourley pin for Gettysburg in 2:46 over Camden Rice at 182 pounds.
In several of Gettysburg’s pins, the Rocket wrestler had the lead or the advantage, and a quick reversal or takedown from the Warriors led to a pin and a stunning defeat.
“We need to look at film and learn from those situations,” Conover said. “I still think we could’ve won the match. There were a couple of spots that just didn’t go our way tonight. Wrestle that match tomorrow, and things could be different. I’m sure Chris Haines would tell you the same thing.”
Warriors seal the victory: After Hartman’s victory at 220, Spring Grove’s Seth Worley earned a 4-0 win over Robert Hatfield at 285 pounds.
In the quickest fall of the night, Gettysburg’s Jake Fetrow pinned Braxton Rice in 28 seconds to put the Warriors up 30-18 with four bouts to go.
The Rockets got another win at 113 with a Sam Meyer decision over Montana DeLawder, 8-2. Ethan Dalton prevented the comeback, though, winning 6-2 over CJ Styke at 120 pounds to put the Warriors up 33-21 with two bouts left. Jake Cherry then sealed the win with a 16-1 technical fall over William Smyser.
“Hats off to Ethan Dalton,” Haines said. “He was the one who was on the mat against Dallastown with a huge lead and got pinned. That’s in the back of my mind and his mind. He remembers those things, and he wrestled wonderfully.”
Spring Grove’s Clay Baker ended the night with a 13-2 major decision over Nathan Ridgley.
Division I outlook: The Warriors’ win now puts Dallastown as the top team in the division at 3-0, with Spring Grove and Gettysburg each at 2-1.
“I’m glad we have a good team, good rival in the division,” Conover said. “The better the division is, the better we have to be. That makes us rise to the occasion. I am happy with that. I knew they were going to come in and try and take it from us. They’ve won how many division championships over the years, and this is their first year in Division I, and they want to make a name for themselves.”
The Wildcats defeated the Warriors in a wild, tiebreaker victory a few weeks ago, so now Haines and his squad have nothing to do except win their remaining division dual meets and hope one match goes their way.
“I hope Spring Grove beats Dallastown,” Haines said of the dual meet between the Rockets and the Wildcats on Thursday, Jan. 17.
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org