National champions highlight 2022 in York County sports

From Trinity Thomas and Laila Campbell to a historic year for several high school programs, 2022 was one to remember in York County.

Thomas Kendziora
York Dispatch

Trinity Thomas had established herself years ago as one of the biggest athletic stars in York County history, but she reached new heights in 2022.

The former West York athlete was the best college gymnast in the country this spring, capturing the individual NCAA all-around championship as well as titles on the bar and floor. The senior amassed a score of 39.812 and received a perfect 10 on the floor to steal the show in Fort Worth, Texas, in April.

Florida's Trinity Thomas competes in the floor exercise during the NCAA college women's gymnastics championships, Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)

Thomas has earned All-American honors in all four years with the Gators and was also the SEC Gymnast of the Year and Honda Award winner as the nation’s top gymnast this season. She announced in June that she would return for a fifth and final campaign in Gainesville.

While Thomas has been a member of the U.S. National Team for several years, she announced her retirement from international gymnastics last year and opted not to compete for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics last summer. It remains to be seen if her gymnastics career continues after Florida, but she’s certainly given fans from York County and around the world plenty to be proud of.

Thomas was far from the only York native to grab headlines for her big-time achievements in 2022. As the calendar year winds down, let’s look at some of the other biggest sports stories of the last 12 months.

Campbell wins national sprint title: Spring Grove’s Laila Campbell has quickly become one of the top young sprinters in the nation. She broke the PIAA record with a 100-meter dash of 11.55 seconds in the spring and won gold in both the 100 and 200 at the state championships. She then captured a national title in the 100 at the New Balance Nationals in Philadelphia in June, with her time of 11.553 seconds narrowly edging out the 11.559 of Virginia’s Brianna Selby.

Laila Campbell, in center, of Spring Grove, getting her first place medal during the PIAA Track and Field Championship in Shippensburg, Pa on Saturday, May 28, 2022.

Campbell was honored after the season as the Gatorade Pennsylvania Girls Track & Field Player of the Year. She has received several offers from top collegiate track programs in recent months, and more are surely on the way as she enters just her junior season.

Another Spring Grove athlete, Ella Bahn, medaled in the pentathlon at the AAU Junior Olympics in Greensboro, N.C., in the summer. Bahn also continued her career as an elite gymnast and competed with the Rockets’ cross-country team as a freshman this year.

Summer Britcher, of the United States, raises her helmet after finishing the luge women's singles run 3 at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in the Yanqing district of Beijing. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Britcher competes in third Olympics: Summer Britcher, a Glen Rock native and Susquehannock graduate, competed on the Winter Olympic stage for the third time in her storied luge career. The 27-year-old was eliminated after three runs in Beijing, finishing 23rd overall in the women’s competition.

“I went 15th in Sochi, then 19th in Pyeongchang, and now 23rd,” Britcher told The Associated Press. “So, if I had just done an Olympics when I was 4 years old, I probably would have won the whole thing.”

Britcher and American teammate Emily Sweeney have started competing as a doubles team, with eyes on potentially competing as Olympians together when the discipline is added to the Olympic program in 2026.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, right, and quarterback Tom Brady (12) talk before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

Arians retires from NFL coaching: It’s been a long, winding journey through the game of football for Bruce Arians, a York High graduate and former York Catholic student-athlete. Just over a year after that nearly five-decade journey brought him his first Super Bowl title as a head coach, Arians stepped down from his post with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this spring.

He posted an 80-48-1 record in eight seasons as a head coach (five with the Arizona Cardinals, three with the Buccaneers). Arians was named NFL Coach of the Year in 2012 as an interim coach with the Indianapolis Colts and won again with Arizona in 2014. His coaching resume also includes six seasons as head coach at Temple and a laundry list of coordinator and assistant jobs across college and the pros.

Arians, who turned 70 in October, spent this season as a senior football consultant for Tampa Bay, which promoted defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to head coach. The Buccaneers are just 7-8 through Week 16 but hold first place in a languishing NFC South.

Winds of coaching change: Coaching careers from high school to the pros can last one season or several decades. And this year, plenty of notable local figures stepped away after longtime tenures.

York Catholic girls’ lacrosse coach Rob Linthicum stepped down in August after coaching the Irish for all of their PIAA-sanctioned seasons. West York girls’ basketball coach Jim Kunkle resigned for another opportunity after guiding the Bulldogs to the state quarterfinals. Dallastown this spring replaced three coaches — Dave Gable (wrestling), Brooke Shoffner (golf) and Andrew Foust (boys' soccer) — who had achieved great success with their programs. And that’s just to name a few.

Dallastown head wrestling coach Dave Gable watches his team compete against Gettysburg during the District 3 Class 3-A Team Wrestling Championship at Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. Gettysburg would win the title, 33-22. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Even the York Revolution will enter next season with a new manager after Mark Mason ended his nine-year tenure this fall. Mason won 606 games in York, fourth-most in Atlantic League history. He’ll manage the Empire State Greys of the Frontier League in 2023, while York brought in Rick Forney to guide the team. (The Revs also said farewell at the end of the season to Cannonball Charlie, who had become synonymous with the team since its inception.)

From zero to state champs: Central York bowling captured the PIAA title in its first year as a varsity team, and the Panthers did so by beating county rival Spring Grove in the best-of-three final at Dutch 222 Lanes in Ephrata. 

“This season we grew from a group of individual bowlers to a cohesive team,” Central York coach Julie Carson said after the championship. “And that was one of our strengths.”

The members of the Central York state championship bowling team are: front row, left to right, Kamryn Brenneman, Bryce Kline and Madison Brenneman; and back row, from left, coach Julie Carson, Max Minnich, Daegan Gotwalt, Brady Know, Tyler Smith and coach Charlie Earnst.

Spring Grove leads the early York-Adams League standings for 2022-23 thanks to a 4-1 victory over the Panthers on Dec. 12. The Rockets sit at 3-0 with Central York at 3-1.

York-Adams teams make deep playoff runs: While those Panthers were the only state champions to come out of the YAIAA in 2022, several squads made plenty of noise in the postseason.

Susquehannock boys’ lacrosse and Delone Catholic baseball both captured District 3 championships in the spring. York Catholic girls’ volleyball finally got over the hump against Trinity in the district final and made a run all the way to the state final before falling to Freeport. New Oxford girls’ tennis went undefeated up until the state quarterfinals. Gettysburg, before leaving the York-Adams League, won district titles in wrestling and girls’ basketball. Delone Catholic’s girls also captured a district crown on the hardwood.

Perhaps the most emotional playoff journey was that of Central York boys’ lacrosse, which played in the district semifinal just days after the fatal shooting of Erin Walker, who was a beloved social studies teacher at the school. The Panthers fell 7-6 in overtime in that contest and saw their season end in states, but simply taking the field gave the community something to rally behind.

Local standout wins double gold: Spring Grove swimmer Daniel Gordon won two PIAA state titles in as many days at the state championships in March, capturing the 50-yard freestyle on March 17 and following with the 400-yard freestyle the next day. He became the first Rocket male swimmer to win state gold. Gordon now swims at the University of Florida.

Spring Grove's Daniel Gordon celebrates after breaking the league record in winning the 50-yard freestyle at 20.43 during the boys' YAIAA Swimming Championships at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Susquehannock’s Jacob Wade finished second in the 100 free at the state meet, his second career silver medal. Wade is among the local swimmers seeking hardware in 2023.

York High duo makes history: Sam Stoner and Jahiem White co-starred in the Bearcats’ backfield for three seasons, and this October, the seniors broke school passing and rushing yardage career records in the same game. They’ll be linked even more closely after both signing with West Virginia last week (White as a scholarship running back, Stoner as a preferred walk-on quarterback).

York High football's Jahiem White, left, and Sam Stoner sign their letters of intent to play for West Virginia in a ceremony at the Accountability for Life (AFL) building in York on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022.

The Bearcats also played in several of the most electric games of any local team in the 2022 season. They opened the year with a pair of narrow losses, then won a Week 3 thriller in the final seconds. White rushed for 417 yards and scored seven total touchdowns in a 66-49 win against Dallastown. York High also played two exciting contests against rival Central York, falling 43-38 to close the regular season before a 51-44 loss in an instant classic in the district playoffs.

Central York’s Nigier DeWitt, right, works to push York High’s Jahiem White into the sideline during PIAA District 3, Class 6-A quarterfinal football action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. Central York would win the game 51-44. Dawn J. Sagert photo

(Central was the last York-Adams League team standing in the playoffs, reaching the District 3 Class 6A semifinals with the win over York High. The Panthers then fell 44-7 against a Harrisburg team that ultimately reached the state final.)

High-profile racing: The Central PA Sprint Car Series was as competitive as any circuit in the country this year, and the numbers prove it

Dillsburg’s Anthony Macri, who won the local championship for a second consecutive year, was the winningest 410 sprint car driver nationwide with 23 victories this year. Brent Marks won 18 times (11 locally, seven on the road) and earned $642,721, more than any other sprint car driver. Danny Dietrich was also among the national leaders with 14 victories, while Lance Dewease garnered 10 wins on a part-time schedule.

From dirt tracks to high school gyms to the worldwide stage, 2023 is sure to bring many more memories to York County.