Some stories to watch as York-Adams wrestlers start individual postseason journeys
- Pennsylvania's individual high school postseason is about to begin.
- York-Adams wrestlers begin with District 3 sectional action on Saturday.
- The local 3-A wrestlers will compete at South Western. The area 2-A wrestlers are at Susquenita.
Wrestling, at its heart, is an individual battle of wills.
On the mat, you can’t rely on a teammate to mask your mistakes.
Your weaknesses, and your strengths, are on full display for everyone to see.
There’s nothing more humbling than having your shoulders pinned to the floor.
There’s nothing more satisfying than having your hand raised high above your head.
It is the very solitary, head-to-head nature of the sport that makes it so appealing for so many.
Yes, it can be an acquired taste, but for those who acquire that taste, it creates a ravenous appetite for more.
That’s why the next month will be so compelling
It’s time for Pennsylvania’s individual high school wrestling postseason to begin.
The team season has its moments, especially, when the better teams face off during the postseason, but there are far too many forfeits in far too many matches to make the team regular season consistently riveting.
The individual postseason, however, never fails to entertain.
There are no forfeits. You can’t duck formidable foes.
It’s just a matter of survive and advance. Noses will be bloodied, muscles will be pulled and tears will be shed.
This year, unlike the COVID-truncated 2021 campaign, the postseason will return to a more typical format.
And less than a month from now, on Saturday, March 12, at the Giant Center in Hershey, 26 tough and determined young wrestlers will be crowned PIAA state champions.
For the York-Adams wrestlers, the individual journey to the Giant Center begins Saturday with sectional action at South Western (Class 3-A) and Susquenita (Class 2-A). In 3-A, four wrestlers in each weight class will advance to District 3 action. In 2-A, six wrestlers in each class will move on to districts.
Here are a few story lines that bear watching:
Can Mason Leiphart win a state title? There’s little argument that the most accomplished individual York-Adams wrestler is Dover’s Mason Leiphart.
The Eagles’ senior is the league’s only unbeaten wrestler this season at 27-0 and he’s 120-11 for his career.
He’s a three-time District 3 Class 3-A runner-up and a three-time state qualifier. He finished third in the state last season at 120 pounds, with his only state loss a 1-0 setback to Waynesburg Central’s Mac Church, who went on to win the state championship.
Church is back this year, but he’s been wrestling at 132 pounds. Leiphart, meanwhile, has been wrestling at 126 as of late, but did wrestle at 120 earlier in the season.
Of course, in state wrestling, past performance is not always indicative of future production. Upsets can and do happen. But there’s no denying that Leiphart has the capability of making another big postseason run.
Can Carter Davis continue to surge? At the end of December, Central York sophomore Carter Davis was a relative unknown.
He was coming off a 6-2 freshman season and after a 13-8 loss on Dec. 29, he stood at 10-5 for his sophomore season – solid but not sensational.
Since then, he’s reeled off 17 straight victories to move to 27-5, establishing himself as one of District 3’s elite 3-A wrestlers at 138 pounds. He is 10-0 since dropping to 138 in late January.
His recent run includes tournament titles at the Falcon Invitational at Cedar Crest and at the Ultimate Warrior Tournament at West Branch, where he beat two returning 2-A state medalists.
He appears to be a young man on a mission.
Heavyweight contenders: The York-Adams League is stacked with senior talent at the heavyweight classes — 215 and 285.
There are several local big men who could threaten to win District 3 3-A titles and earn state berths.
Central York’s Ethan Miller (28-5), Gettysburg’s Trevor Gallagher (32-5), Gettysburg's Sam Rodriguez (28-2) and Dallastown’s Hunter Bisking (28-7) all have the ability make some noise.
Miller, who has wrestled at 215 and 285 this season, beat Bisking during the regular season, 4-0. Bisking and Gallagher figure to wrestle at 285. Rodriguez looks set for 215.
Strong senior trio from Dallastown: In addition to Bisking, Dallastown has at least three other senior wrestlers who bear watching: Caden Dobbins (30-2), Ashton Deller (27-8) and Zach Luckenbaugh (28-6).
They’re hoping to end their careers with several loud bangs.
Dobbins, who has been wrestling at 152, is 116-35 for his career.
Luckenbaugh has been wrestling at 126, while Deller has been wrestling at 160.
That trio helped Dallastown to a York-Adams Division I championship.
Dobbins placed second at districts last year, while Deller and Luckenbaugh each finished fourth.
Gettysburg standouts have one more chance to represent York-Adams League: Gettysburg, in addition to Gallagher and Rodriguez, has some other standouts to keep an eye on: Jacob Cherry (35-4 at 160) and Tyler Withers (34-5 at 172).
Cherry was a state qualifier last year in 3-A after taking third at the district meet.
The Warriors rolled to another York-Adams Division II title in their final year in the league. Gettysburg moves on to the Mid-Penn Conference next season, largely because the leaders of the Warriors wrestling program believe that conference will offer better competition than D-II of the York-Adams League.
Gettysburg wanted to bump up to D-I, but that move was denied by the Y-A League.
Others who could contend: Spring Grove’s Ivan Vega (21-2 at 132) and York Suburban’s Noah Rice (29-4 at 145) are definite candidates to earn state berths in Class 3-A.
In 2-A, Bermudian Springs’ Austin Anderson (21-6 at 113) and Brennan Schisler (17-10 at 132) could be forces, as could Littlestown’s Cameron Mingee (23-3 at 126) and Biglerville’s Devon Ponce (26-4 at 132).
Schisler was a state qualifier last year.
Haines is missing in action: The lone York-Adams state champion from last year, Biglerville’s Levi Haines, elected not to wrestle at the high school level this season.
He is concentrating on getting ready for his college career at Penn State under legendary head coach Cael Sanderson,
Last year, Haines won the 2-A state title at 145 pounds after two state runner-up finishes as a sophomore and a freshman.
He finished his high school career at 100-5.
Reach Steve Heiser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ydsports. The weights mentioned in this story could change slightly for the postseason, depending on which weight classes that wrestlers choose to enter.