In Mason Leiphart’s first two years as a wrestler, he won only one bout.
Well, technically he won two. One was a forfeit.
Leiphart said it took him a few years as an elementary-school-aged wrestler to catch on, and being a small kid meant he needed to learn the mental and technical side of the sport to succeed.
Now, Leiphart is a freshman standout at Dover, posting a 16-1 record at the 106-pound weight class.
“I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I have,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d be 16-1.”
Born a wrestler: Like many wrestlers, Leiphart was born into a wrestling family. Both of his uncles wrestled in high school, and other family members are entrenched in the sport.
“His brother is on the junior high team, and they’re both really into the sport,” Dover head coach Brad Brosius said. “His uncle was a wrestler for Dover in the early 1990s. It’s part of the family.”
Brosius said Leiphart’s early success is simple to those who understand what makes good wrestlers.
“He’s put in a huge amount of time,” Brosius said. “That’s where the success comes from. He’s dedicated to wrestling, and that’s why you see the success on the mat. His attitude and demeanor on the mat really help him. He stays calm under pressure and never shows that he’s rattled. As a freshman he’s pretty mature in that way.”
Seven of Leiphart’s 16 wins this season are technical falls. He said he doesn’t have a “killer mentality.” He just racks up points and sticks to his game plan, he said.
“I don’t get mad,” Leiphart said. “I just get focused and ready to wrestle. A lot of it is wanting to win and wanting to be the best. … Usually I just go out and wrestle the way I always do.”
His one loss: Leiphart’s lone defeat on the season was one that most people would’ve chalked up as an easy loss before the season. In mid-December, Leiphart went up against Biglerville’s Levi Haines, who InterMat says is the 10th best 106-pound high school wrestler in the country.
Leiphart gave Haines his closest bout of the season, losing 9-7.
“I was up by four points at one point. Then it got to when I was only up by two points, and I clammed up,” Leiphart said. “I like to be ahead by more than five. If I’m ahead by 1-3 points, I get worried because if they do one move I’ll be losing or tied. I’m not good at stalling either. I need to work on that.”
Dover enjoying hot start: With Leiphart leading Dover in winning percentage, the Eagles are off to a fast start to the season. A program that once was prominent in the 1980s had recently turned south, with the squad unable to fill a full lineup.
This season, though, Dover is 8-0 overall and 3-0 in York-Adams Division II play with its first full squad in eight years.
“One of the big reasons for the turnaround is this year is the first time in a long time we’ve been able to field a full team,” Brosius said. “The last five or six years we’ve had basically half a team, which made it tough because we were giving up so many points due to forfeit.”
The Eagles are still young, with only three seniors on the squad, though Brosius said the team’s captains — Brandon Lawyer, John Bradbury, Mason Lewis and Mason Torney — are bringing the underclassmen along.
“We have some talented guys. We are young, but we have some talent. The culture has also changed with this group of kids,” Brosius said. “They’re holding themselves accountable, and that’s big. You need to have that to be a good team.”
Lewis, a district qualifier last season, is 13-3 this season at 132 pounds. Six of his last eight bouts have been pins. The other two were forfeits.
Lawyer, who was one of the football team’s best players this season, is 8-2 at 182 pounds, while Bradyn Yerges, who Brosius said has improved greatly since last season, is also 8-2 at 138 pounds.
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.