Spring Grove defeated South Western, 43-18, during the Rockets' annual 'Take Down Cancer' match. Head coach Tony Miller discussed the team's victory and participation in the event afterwards. Elijah Armold, York Dispatch
The York-Adams Division I wrestling race hasn’t exactly been suspenseful in recent years.
At the beginning of each season, you could pretty much pencil in Spring Grove as your division champion.
The Rockets, after all, have won at least a share of 10 of the last 11 D-I championships and haven’t lost a single division match since the 2014-15 season, compiling an 18-0 division mark over the last three seasons.
Spring Grove has simply been dominant vs. Y-A opposition.
Much of the credit for that success must go to longtime Rockets head coach Tony Miller, who recently resigned after 21 seasons at Spring Grove, where he built a powerhouse program.
The Rockets, under new head coach Tyke Conover (with Miller now one of his assistants), again look to have a very solid team this season. Spring Grove could very well earn another D-I championship.
In contrast to previous years, however, the D-I race looks like it could be a whole lot more suspenseful this season.
That’s not because Spring Grove has taken a step backward, but because the competition looks significantly improved.
That improvement was on display during the opening weekend of high school wrestling action. Two D-I teams, in particular, looked mighty impressive.
Dallastown takes title: Dallastown cruised to the team championship at the 21st annual Mule Classic, which featured 26 teams at Solanco High School. The Wildcats piled up 215 points, which was a whopping 52 points ahead of second-place Central Dauphin. The Rams just happen to be one of the traditional District 3 Class 3-A wrestling powers, owning seven district team titles.
Dallastown’s upper-weight wrestlers were particularly strong, getting individual championships from John Ligon (160), Franklin Klinger (170), Jamal Brandon (220) and Raymond Christas (heavyweight). Jarrett Feeney added a second-place finish at 182.
Dave Gable’s team looks like it will be very tough to handle, especially when the big boys take to the mat. Dallastown is looking to move up after finishing third in D-I a season ago at 4-2, with one of those losses coming by just two points (31-29) vs. Spring Grove.
Panthers finish second without Wolfgram: Central York, meanwhile, was nearly as impressive, taking second at the 13-team Sam Lovello Memorial Tournament at Brandywine Heights. The Panthers finished with 159 points, just five points behind champion Garden Spot.
The Panthers could have done even better if senior heavyweight standout Michael Wolfgram had competed. The West Virginia University commit, who finished fourth in last year’s PIAA Class 3-A Tournament, did not compete because he was feeling under the weather, according to Central head coach Seth Beitz.
Still, Wolfgram’s replacement, junior Lucas Reed, excelled at 285, finishing second. Reed is coming off a standout 18-1 junior varsity record last season and may move down to 220 later in the season, said Beitz.
Mason Myers (132), Brett Morgan (138) and Tanner Schaller (160) took individual crowns for Central, which finished fourth in D-I last season at 3-3. Logan Paluch added a second-place finish at 126.
Spring Grove goes 3-2 at Ephrata Duals: The Rockets were also in action over the weekend, going 3-2 at the Ephrata Duals, earning wins over Biglerville, Downingtown East and the host school, while falling to Hempfield and Stroudsburg.
Thomas Dressler (145) and Anthony Hinson (170) each went 5-0 for the Rockets, while Sam Meyer (113), Kahle Zumbrum (152), Eric Glass (195) and Seth Worley (285) each went 4-1.
Like Central, Spring Grove was missing one of its top wrestlers in Clay Baker, who was busy taking a college entrance test, according to Conover.
Adams County contenders: Two Adams County teams could also have something to say about who wins D-I. Gettysburg cruised to the D-II title a season ago at 6-0 and moved up to D-I this season. The Warriors open their season Thursday at home vs. South Western.
New Oxford took second in D-I a year ago at 5-1 and opened this season by going 1-1 at the Chambersburg Trojan Duals, beating Conestoga Valley and losing to the Trojans.
That’s five teams who likely feel they have legitimate D-I championship hopes.
In addition, Red Lion and South Western are looking to improve after finishing fifth and sixth in the division a season ago.
Entertaining six weeks: In past years, Spring Grove’s D-I championships often felt like inevitable coronations.
That doesn’t appear to be the case this season.
This season, the D-I wrestling race looks like it could be extremely competitive. The eventual champion, or champions, may very well have at least one division loss and will have to survive a gauntlet of formidable foes.
The title could very well be decided by match-ups and injuries. On several occasions, the pre-match coin flip could turn out to be crucial in determining the eventual winners.
By late January, we’ll know the identity of the D-I champion, or champions.
Until then, it should be an unpredictable, entertaining and suspenseful six weeks of wrestling.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.