RED LION — On the second to last Friday night of the high school basketball regular season, it was a wrestling event at Red Lion High School that drew the attention of York County sports fans.
A unique dual meet in the Ronald Abe Fitzkee Center between two of the best NCAA Division I wrestling schools in the country drew 2,712 fans from across the state.
Due to coaching connections between Red Lion head coach Mike Catullo and coaches from No. 12 Arizona State and No. 22 Lock Haven, the Lions played host to the Sun Devils and Bald Eagles Friday night. The match, which Lock Haven won 23-14, was a homecoming for 10 District 3 wrestlers, including former York-Adams League stars Chance Marsteller and Dalton Rohrbaugh.
“It really was fantastic,” said Red Lion athletic director Arnold Fritzius. “It’s been great for our community. They supported it, and we’re excited to showcase quality wrestling.”
About the event: The 2,712 fans in attendance is the largest in Fitzkee Center history, and Fritzius said the planning for the event — dubbed the “Rumble in the Jungle” — started last summer. He said more than 60 people helped put together the “pressure-packed” event on Friday. The excitement from fans when District 3 wrestlers hit the mat, Fritzius said, made the hard work of putting the event together worth it.
“We knew this was going to be a close match,” he said. “We could tell walking through the warm-up area that the kids from Arizona State and Lock Haven were excited about this."
Fritzius added that he hopes the school can make the event an annual one.
“This is great for the wrestling community,” Fritzius said. “Not just for Red Lion, but District 3 and beyond. We have people in here from Pittsburgh, because there are kids on both rosters from western Pennsylvania."
Marsteller, who was a four-time state title winner from Kennard-Dale High School, said being able to wrestle in York County again was a fun experience.
“The atmosphere was great,” Marsteller said. “It was a neat experience. I think a lot of the young wrestlers in the area got to see a good match. I think it was good for the fans and the kids to get exposed to college wrestling.”
Marsteller loses in tiebreaker-two: The best bout of the night — and the one many of the fans were there to see — was Marsteller's at 165 pounds to end the match. Lock Haven had already clinched the victory, but the No. 4-ranked redshirt senior faced off against No. 5 Josh Shields, who is a Murrysville, Pennsylvania, native.
The bout was tied at 1-1 for most of the third period and went through two sudden deaths and one tiebreaker before Shields earned a point on an escape to win the bout. Marsteller fell to 13-2 with the loss.
“I’ve got to get to my offense. I’ve got to get my side-to-side motion going,” Marsteller said. “I don’t want to blame it on things. The weight cut isn’t easy. I’ve got to get my legs under me more. I just didn’t have any pop tonight.”
“I love coming back to Pennsylvania,” said Shields, who is a Franklin Regional graduate. “Pennsylvania wrestling is great. The atmosphere was amazing. I loved it.”
Bald Eagles edge Sun Devils: The dual meet started at 174 pounds, and No. 2-ranked Zahid Valencia of Arizona State (4-7) earned a major decision over Manheim Central alumnus Jared Siegrist, who dropped to 21-9 in his junior season.
The Bald Eagles (4-2) went on to win the next six bouts to hold a comfortable 23-4 lead.
Senior heavyweight Thomas Haines put LRU up 9-4 with a decision over Brady Daniel. The Solanco graduate, who is ranked No. 9 in the country at his weight class, improved to 13-3 with the triumph.
At 141 pounds, Boiling Springs graduate Kyle Shoop earned one of the most dominating victories of the night for Lock Haven in a 16-0 technical fall over Cory Crooks. The No. 20-ranked grappler is now 23-5.
Jonathan Ross, a Dillsburg native and Northern York alumnus, then lost by major decision at 149 pounds to Josh Maruca. Ross is 15-7 this season.
Before Marsteller’s bout at 165, East Pennsboro graduate Alex Klucker fell to 13-8 on the season with a 10-4 loss to No. 15 Christian Pagdilao at 157 pounds.
“This was a first-class event,” said Lock Haven head coach Scott Moore. “You're not going to get a much better environment than this. There aren’t many college programs, if any, that can put on a better show than this. We’re appreciative of the hospitality and the effort. We know how much work it takes to put on an event like this.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org