Dallastown junior Bryce Shields understands the amount of work and effort that goes into being a good wrestler, let alone a great one.
His whole life, he had a front-row seat to the career of his older brother, Nick. Growing up, the two were always around the same weight and served as partners for each other in practice and at home, when they would get in extra work. During his four years at Dallastown, Nick twice qualified for the PIAA Class AAA state tournament, but could never crack the podium.
That's not a slight on Nick's career. Pennsylvania is the toughest wrestling state around, and earning a state podium finish is a serious challenge. That serves as a reminder to Bryce, however, that even the hardest workers don't always see the greatest success at the highest levels.
"I know his freshman year and senior year he qualified for the state tournament," Bryce said about Nick. "And that's always been a goal of mine. He's really helped me and I've looked up to him as a person and as a wrestler."
Faith in God: Before every match, Shields will pray, putting his well-being in the hands of God. Sometimes he'll even get other members of the Wildcats to join him.
His strong faith is, perhaps, the only thing that outweighs the hard work that he puts in on the mat.
"I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without God," he said.
That's saying something, because he's a wrestler that takes his sport home with him. Up until last year, his family's home had a wrestling room as a substitute for a basement. He and Nick were on it five times a week, eventually having to remove it after they put too many holes in the walls.
The combination of faith and practice has turned him into the best 195-pound wrestler in York County this year, and possibly one of the best in District 3 and the state.
Dominant year: Coming into the season, Shields set two goals for himself — win 30 bouts and qualify for the state tournament.
After a dominating performance at the sectional meet this past weekend, he now stands at 26-1, and he's the top seed out of Section V heading into the District 3-AAA tournament this weekend at the Hersheypark Arena. He rarely needed more than one period to finish his task, pinning all three of his opponents to breeze to the Section V title.
Since losing his only bout of the year back on Jan. 30 to Clearfield's Travis Ogden, 6-5, Shields has been on a mission. He's 5-0 since that defeat, with all five coming via pins. On the season, 14 of his 26 victories have been pins, while 23 have resulted in bonus points.
It's prompted him to change his outlook on his season and alter his goals.
"Seeing how I'm doing so far in the season, I'd like to place in the top six of the state tournament. That would be my goal," he said.
Qualifying for the state tournament got easier for Shields this year. In years past, he would've needed to place in the top three or four of the district tournament. This year, however, all he needs to do is finish in the top five. He'll face junior Thomas Weidman from Conestoga Valley (18-10) in the opening round of districts.
However, he doesn't want to just qualify for the state tournament by the skin of his teeth. He's hoping to win a district title and set himself up with the best path possible for placing at the state level.
A state medal around Nick's neck was the only piece missing from his career as a Wildcat. With a real shot of qualifying for his first state tournament as a junior, Bryce is hoping that a state medal won't elude him.
"It'd mean a lot to me," he said. "I've had a lot of friends that have placed at states and that's always been a goal of mine. So, to achieve that goal, I'd be really satisfied."
District news and notes: Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Security Protocol will be in place for this weekend’s District 3 Wrestling Championships at Hersheypark Arnea. Hershey security will search all bags and will electronically wand all entrants to the arena. As noted, this protocol applies to all individuals. This will delay entry to the arena. Fans are asked to plan accordingly and arrive early.
There's new pricing for this year’s district meet. Tickets for Friday’s session are $8 for adults and $6 for students. Tickets for Saturday’s session are $10 for adults and $8 for students. Admission each day is good for the entire day. The championship finals on Saturday are scheduled to begin at 2:15 p.m. for both classes. Action starts at 10 a.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org
Following are the York County wrestlers who earned gold medals last weekend in sectional action. They will try to add another gold medal this weekend at the District 3 championships at Hersheypark Arena.
Spring Grove sophomore Dalton Rohrbaugh, 106, 35-1.
Dover senior Brandon Rodriguez, 113, 21-3.
Kennard-Dale senior Michael Bracey, 126, 27-0.
South Western senior Owen Wherley, 138, 29-2.
Central York senior Dylan Chatterton, 145, 29-1.
South Western senior Gage Thomas, 152, 27-5.
Spring Grove junior Ryan Daugherty, 160, 21-12.
Spring Grove senior Marcus Kehr, 170, 30-7.
Central York senior Isaiah Dickson, 182, 26-5.
Dallastown junior Bryce Shields, 195, 26-1.
Spring Grove junior Nate Young, 220, 19-9.
Northeastern junior Blaine Yinger, 285, 29-3.
Hanover senior Caleb Garland, 126, 31-4.
Eastern York senior Dakota Mackley, 170, 22-2.