This past weekend was the beginning of the 2016-2017 winter sports high school season.
While the boys' and girls' basketball tip-off tournaments garnered much of the attention, York County's wrestlers put on some performances that should not be overlooked.
To start, the always dangerous Spring Grove wrestling team easily wrestled its way to first place at the Ephrata Duals. The Rockets went 5-0 and didn't face much of a challenge in any match. They crushed Waynesboro, 60-14; followed that up with a 58-13 win over Reading; rolled past Hempfield, 65-6; downed Biglerville, 75-6; and then finished off Downingtown East in the championship match, 57-15.
One of Spring Grove's potential challengers for the York-Adams Division I title this year, Central York, also had a couple wrestlers open up the season with strong performances. Competing in the Brandywine Bullet Invitational, the Panthers had two wrestlers win their weight classes, while one finished as a runner-up and another took third. Mason Myers went 3-0 to win the 113-pound weight class, recording a pin and two major decisions, while Michael Wolfgram pinned all three of his opponents to win the heavyweight division. Logan Paluch took second at 120 pounds, winning his first two bouts via pins, but was then tech falled by Central Dauphin's Chris Wright in the title bout. Antonio Rivera grabbed third at 170 pounds, winning his first bout, losing in the semifinals, but earning a narrow decision in the third-place bout.
Competing in the Havoc at the Hanna event hosted by Susquehanna Township, York Suburban's Adoniyah Johnson finished second at 285 pounds. Johnson worked his way into the championship bout with a pin in the semifinal round, but got pinned in the championship bout. The Trojans also got third-place finishes from Colin Shelton (120), Lucas Friend (145) and Anders Thoman (152).
At the Solanco Mule Classic, Dallastown's Bryce Shields began his senior year with a championship result at 220 pounds. Shields recorded two wins via pin and then another on injury time, before recording a 5-0 decision in the first-place bout. William Anderson finished second at heavyweight, winning a 2-0 decision and then 5-0 decision to get into the final round, but lost a 2-1 result in the championship bout to Delone Catholic's Bryce Perkins.
Matt Rodriguez of Dover finished fourth out of 20 wrestlers at 113 pounds at the prestigious Cumberland Valley Kickoff Classic.
Also from Y-A Division II, two-time reigning division champion Kennard-Dale got its season underway with a team victory at the Travis Manion Wrestling Tournament at La Salle High School College. The Rams' team score of 187.5 was 20 points more than the second-place finisher.
Coming up: With the opening weekend of the winter season now in the past, the weekdays will now also be jam packed with intriguing league showdowns.
In girls' swimming, arguably the two best teams in the league will square off in an early-season showdown on Thursday. West York and Dallastown should provide the local swimming fans with a nice treat. The Wildcats are a Division I dynasty, while the Bulldogs are an up-and-coming outfit led by senior Courtney Harnish, who is swimming for the school team for the first time since her freshman year. She already won a few events during the Dover meet over the weekend and also has a few state records to her name from her freshman year. Not to mention Harnish is the top-rated girls' swimmer in the nation for the Class of 2017 and committed to compete for the University of Georgia next year. Thursday's meet is set for 6 p.m. at the York YMCA Graham Aquatic Center.
In girls' basketball, West York and Dover will clash in a Division II battle at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Dover. It will be a game between veteran standouts on one side and freshman phenoms on the other. The Eagles won their season-opening tip-off tournament at Northern York over the weekend, getting big contributions from sisters Rayah and Rajah Fink. Rayah, a senior, combined to score 37 points and grab 18 boards over the two games, while junior Rajah posted two double-doubles and was named tournament MVP with a 19-point, 18-rebound performance on Friday night and 10-and-10 effort in the championship game. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs won their own tip-off tournament, led by freshmen Makenna Hoffman and Alayna Harris. Hoffman led West York in scoring on both nights, pouring in 15 in each game, while Harris scored in double figures in both games as well.
In boys' basketball, there are a number of intriguing early-season match-ups on Tuesday, including: Central York at Dallastown, York High at New Oxford, Northeastern at Red Lion, South Western at Spring Grove, Susquehannock at York Suburban and Dover at West York.
Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org.