Gettysburg looking for consistency as they leave the York -Adams league

Dante Green
York Dispatch

The York-Adams League will have one less team competing for  championships next school year after Gettysburg district officials voted  for the Warriors to return to a more familiar situation.

After spending eight seasons in the Y-A League, the Gettysburg Area School Board voted 7-2  in December to  rejoin the Mid-Penn Conference for the 2022-23 season. The Warriors had previously played in the Harrisburg-area conference from 1992 to 2014.

Gettysburg has competed well during its time in the York-Adams League, winning 13   division titles since 2014 in various sports. 

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Gettysburg had joined the York-Adams League despite pushback from many of the coaches at the school and now will find itself back in a conference that many of those coaches argue is a better fit.

Gettysburg Athletic Director Casey Thurston, who has been at the helm for the last five years, said that York-Adams “moving them down a division and forcing them to compete against smaller schools" as one of the major factors in the decision to switch conferences.

Gettysburg's Gabriel Pecaitis and Sun Valley's Shane Holdfelder wrestle in the 120-pound weight class during preliminaries of PIAA Class 3-A Wrestling Championships at Giant Center in Hershey, Thursday, March 10, 2022. Pecaitis would win 10-5 by decision. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“It was frustrating at times the way things were handled and the levels of competition, and the school board became increasingly interested in moving back to Mid-Penn,” said Thurston, citing examples of not being able to play junior varsity footbal and their wrestling team winning championships but not being able to compete where they wanted.

The York-Adams League determines which schools are in which divisions based on enrollment, not competitive level.

Lopsided competition: The situation with Gettysburg wrestling is at the heart of the move. The Warriors didn’t get a chance to battle many of the top programs in the conference and won division matches by an average score of 67-7. Finding a more competitive field is one of the reasons for the move to the Mid-Penn. 

Gettysburg wrestling dominated in Division II and petitioned to move up to Division I. The move happened but only lasted for a little while. For the last two seasons, the Warriors have competed back at the Division II level, where they have found few competitive matches.

Gettysburg vs. Dallastown during baseball action at Dallastown Area High School in York Township, Wednesday, March 30, 2022. Dallastown would win the game 4-2. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Back when the demotion happened, Gettysburg wrestling head coach Chris Haines was one of several coaches to lash out at the move and said "If York-Adams were smart, they would reorder things and make things competitive and about the kids."

Many other coaches at the school began to wonder if a move back to the Mid-Penn was inevitable.

There was clear frustration as slightly higher-enrolled schools such as Dover  found themselves in Division I despite not being as successful. 

Travel a factor: Thurston  listed several issues such as travel time and Y-A  rules structure as key points that the school board used to consider leaving the  league.

“We will still have some travel to the Colonial Division schools, but not for other areas such as the Keystone. We were driving from one school to another school a large distance away. It just became taxing for the players, families and coaches at times,” said Thurston.

While the move will hopefully make people around Gettysburg feel better about traveling to sporting events, the Warriors are no doubt leaving behind a mountain of success in the York-Adams League. They won this year’s division championship in wrestling and appeared in two other title games during their time in the league (boy’s soccer and baseball). 

Warriors will still meet Y-A foes: The Gettysburg football team will play York-Adams Division II contender New Oxford early  next season. So they will still have Y-A teams on the schedule from time to time, but their absence from the conference will no doubt be noticed. 

York-Adams League executive director Chuck Abbot could not be reached for comment, but Thurston said she doesn’t believe there will be any hard feelings about the move, as the school had good relationships with many people in the conference.

Thurston said that although the Warriors will be leaving behind the conference, they are excited to get to know the schools in the Mid-Penn area and facilitate the growth of their own student-athletes. 

We're moving to a new conference, but we're still playing the sport and coaching the kids," she said recently. "Our philosophy is about building relationships with student-athletes, and I don't think that will change."