Central York wrestling claims first sectional title in program history

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

When it comes to winter sports at Central York High School, the wrestling team has often been overlooked.

Perhaps that trend will be coming to an end.

Senior Macon Myers certainly hopes it will.

Participating in the District 3 Class 3A Section IV tournament at South Western on Saturday, the Panthers did something that no other team in school history had accomplished by capturing the title. Led by four first-place finishes and a runner-up, the Central York boys edged Spring Grove atop the standings.

In this file photo, Central York's Carter Davis and Franklin Regional's Nathan Stone wrestle in the 138-pound weight class preliminaries during PIAA Class 3-A Wrestling Championships at Giant Center in Hershey, Thursday, March 10, 2022. Davis would win 10-7 by decision. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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“I know that we never won a league title and I don’t think we ever won a section title either,” Central York coach Eric Albright said. “This is a first. We have a lot of talent and this is good. We try to always get our guys to think it’s never about just December or January and it’s about wrestling well at the end of February.”

The Panthers ran off three straight top finishes starting with Eli Long at 129, who scored a 4-2 decision over Gabe Pecaitis of Gettysburg. Wyatt Dillon followed up with an 8-0 major decision against Gettysburg’s Dalton Redden at 133 before Carter Davis cruised to a 14-1 major decision over Garrett Lowans of Waynesboro at 139.

Long’s victory provided a sweet taste of redemption for the Central York junior after falling to Pecaitis last year.

“I lost to him over the summer,” Long said. “I learned that I kind of wrestled to his style and allowed it to go the way he wanted the match to go. I was sloppy in neutral and got caught in a cradle, so I just tried to go out there and wrestle more of my match and not allow him to dictate the movement and pace of the match.”

Pecaitis got the first takedown in the first period, but that was it. Long earned a point for an escape later in the period before doing so again in the second. The Panther standout, who improved to 33-8 this season, scored a takedown late in the third frame to claim victory.

Dillon was in control from the onset against Redden as he improved to 33-7. Davis similarly dominated his bout to run his season record to 30-6.

“I was just pleased to see our effort today and the way we approached the day,” Albright said. “This was obviously a big positive for us.”

Everyone who waited around to catch a glimpse of Myers in the final was disappointed. The senior improved to 33-2 after getting a victory by way of forfeit after Dallastown’s Isaiah Feeney was unable to participate.

“This is an achievement that I don’t (think) that Central has ever done before in wrestling,” Myers said of the sectional title. “And it all comes down to the way we put in the work in the room. I’ve been in many rooms and I don’t think that anybody is working as hard as we do as a team.”

The sectional title was still in doubt going into the final matches of the night at 285. Spring Grove, which finished 1.5 points behind the Panthers, needed a fall from Michael Hershey to claim the title against Central York junior Ian Scully. Scully, however, became just the fourth opponent of Hershey’s all year to avoid getting pinned and the third to avoid giving up bonus points as Scully surrendered just a 7-0 decision to the Spring Grove heavyweight.

“Just don’t get pinned,” Albright said of Scully’s match. “And he didn’t, which isn’t easy to do against a kid like (Hershey).”

When the final second ticked off the clock, the Central boys did something that almost never happens on the wrestling mats: they celebrated a loss.

“We push ourselves every day,” Myers said. “And it shows out there on the mat. We stay aggressive, have some really good coaches teaching us and now I think this program is starting to approach where we’re seen (like the basketball and swim teams) in the same light and being known as a very good wrestling school as well.”

Despite getting edged out by the Panthers for the team title, it was nevertheless a great day for the Rockets, who won the York-Adams League Division I title this season. A total of six Spring Grove wrestlers advanced to the District 3 Class 3A draw, including a trio of sectional winners in Hershey (285), Teague Conover (215) and Levi Snyder (133). The trio of Tanner Grim (third at 114), Jarod Baker (fourth at 139) and Chase Amspacher (second at 160) also punched tickets to districts with top-four placements.

For Conover, it was a memorable moment to have his grandfather, Terry, and his dad, Spring Grove head coach Tyke Conover, in his corner for his championship bout with Susquehannock’s Tim Hall. Conover needed just 1:43 to put Hall on his back to claim the fall.

“It’s rare because my dad doesn’t necessarily like to be in the corner when I wrestle,” Teague Conover said. “He gets psyched out just like I do, so that is kind of a rare thing, but it’s really cool.”

Teague Conover, who claimed a sectional title last year at 189, credits his work with the Spring Grove staff as well as Hershey for his strong season and record, which now sits at 31-5.

“We get pushed by our coaches every single day,” Conover said. “And I wrestle Michael all the time. It’s helpful, but he is just so big at times. I wrestle 215-pounders and he’s 250, so when I go in on a shot on someone 215 it feels like nothing when compared to Michael.”

Gettysburg claimed four sectional winners in Will Yordy (107), Isaiah Jackson (114), Jaxon Townsend (160) and Tyler Withers (189). Elijah Hewitt of Northeastern won his second sectional title at 121 while Tyler Adams of York Suburban took home first at 127.