The last memory that any York County wrestling fan has of last season is likely of two local high school boys standing on the podium at the Giant Center at the PIAA state tournament.
It was a nice moment, watching Central York's Dylan Chatterton and Spring Grove's Dalton Rohrbaugh each receive bronze medals at their respective weight classes. It was a near-perfect finale to another strong year of York-Adams League wrestling.
Now, with the 2016-17 season just days away from beginning, the class of the Y-A League doesn't look like it'll change much in any of the three divisions, but things in each division could certainly get tighter.
Here's a look at each of the three divisions for the upcoming wrestling campaign.
Division I: Let's get it out of the way right off the bat. This still looks like the Rockets' division.
Not only is Rohrbaugh returning after his third-place state finish at 106 pounds last year, but the junior has bulked up some in the offseason and plans to wrestle at 120 pounds this year. That should open the door for sophomore Clay Baker to again excel at 106 pounds (which he wrestled at during the regular season) or 113 pounds. That could make the duo a lethal combo at the lighter weights for a second straight year. To go along with them, Spring Grove will boast a lineup stacked with talent throughout all 14 weight classes, including Chance Jackson, Trent Baker and Ryan Daugherty.
South Western was always the main rival for the Rockets in past seasons, but with so much of its roster from a year ago lost to graduation, it's hard to see the Mustangs repeating their tied-for-second result from 2015-16. Of note, state qualifiers Owen Wherley (138) and Gage Thomas (152) graduated in the spring. What that should do is open the door for a team such as Central York, which also tied for second in the division with South Western, to really challenge Spring Grove in Division I. However, the Panthers will have to do it without Chatterton and Xavier Musti, who each graduated. Still, their core of returning standouts are all young, with sophomore heavyweight Michael Wolfgram coming off a state tournament berth and sophomore 120-pounder Logan Paluch coming off a District 3 appearance. Orion Musti at 152 pounds will also be expected to carry a big leadership role.
Red Lion is also on the rise and has a new coach to help take it to the next level. Albert Gleichauf takes over from Chris Schell and has a group of wrestlers with tons of varsity experience. The Lions will need to replace Jared Schell at heavyweight, but should be strong in most other places. Dylan Gurreri is nearing 100 wins at 152 pounds, while Corey Shane (138) and Riley Seredych (126) are a strong lighterweight tandem.
Dallastown, like its rival Red Lion, enters with a lineup full of experience. The Wildcats went 7-10 last season, but could easily flip that record this year, especially if its upper-weight guys produce like they should. Hayden Jones (160), Drake Pew (170), Cameron Green (182) and Bryce Shields (195) all provide Dallastown with chances to score bonus points on most nights.
"We're more experienced up top," head coach Rob Jansen said during York-Adams winter sports media day. "Our bigger guys are where we have a lot of our older kids. We'll be pretty young down at lighter weights, which I guess a lot of schools are like that when you have lighter guys who are younger. We're only one or two deep from 106 to 138. ... The first half, it's a lot thinner in terms of number of guys at weights."
Northeastern should continue to build under the guidance of former York College wrestling coach Tom Kessler as he enters his third season. The Bobcats could overtake New Oxford to move out of the cellar in Division I. It's a young roster for Northeastern, but it has a strong 106-pound presence in Cole Wilson and a beast at heavyweight in Blaine Yinger. Yinger is coming off a District 3 3-A title and state tournament berth last year.
New Oxford went 10-6 overall a year ago, but once it got into division competition it struggled, going just 2-4. The main bright spot for the Colonials over the last three seasons has been Zurich Storm. The senior will look to make it to the state tournament all four years of his high school career, but end his time in high school with a podium result after failing to do so his first three tries. He needs just nine wins this year to reach 100 for his career. Nolan Poust also made the state tournament last year, but graduated, leaving a big hole to fill at 152 pounds.
Division II: Kennard-Dale is coming off back-to-back Division II titles, but might have its best team yet over the last three seasons.
The Rams lost one starter to graduation from a year ago, but it was a key one in state-qualifier Michael Bracey. According to first-year-coach Tad Harbert, K-D is still searching for a 106-pounder and sees that as the only real weight class with no clear-cut certainty going into the season. Throughout the rest of the lineup, the Rams should be strong, with 20-match winner Daemon Davis slotting in at 113 pounds, senior Andrew Barnett at 145 pounds, senior Austin McNamee at 182 pounds and Tanner Harkins looking to maintain a winning record at heavyweight.
"We've got some good talent in the room," Harbert said at media day. "The guys are working hard as we begin the new season. I'm just looking for these guys to be more consistent, work a little harder, peak at the right time and finish the season strong."
The only other team to boast a winning record in Division II last year was Susquehannock, which finished in a three-way tie for second in division matches. The Warriors finished 13-5 on the year, with two of those defeats coming within the division. Another one of those teams to finish in the three-way tie, along with Gettysburg, was West York. The Bulldogs were 6-14 overall, but could be better this year. Nathan Townsley is a strong 120-pounder, but struggled with maintaining his weight last year. More mature now, the junior should make a run at qualifying for districts. Sophomores Jaedan Thomas (170) and Frank Veloce (heavyweight) are two reliable wrestlers at the upper weights.
It's hard to see who else can make a run at K-D this season with so many teams just trying to get to .500 after below-.500 marks last year. York Suburban senior Adoniyah Johnson could be one of the better 220-pound or heavyweight wrestlers in Division II. Dover is still facing a numbers crunch at the varsity level and should have that issue figured out within the next couple years, but, in the meantime, it has a bigger problem on its hands. The Eagles will need to replace state-qualifier Brandon Rodriguez from last season, and it could wind up being Brandon's younger brother, Matthew, that has the biggest year for Dover. However, head coach Brad Brosius did get a bump to his lineup with the addition of two-time district-qualifier junior Cory Becker transferring in from Littlestown.
Like the Eagles, Eastern York was a team that struggled as a team, but still put a wrestler into the state tournament. Dakota Mackley qualified for the 2-A tournament at 170 pounds as the Southeast Regional champion, eventually falling in the seventh-place match. It's hard to see the Golden Knights making any big strides to contend with K-D in Division II, but they'll still miss the consistency of Mackley at 170 pounds.
Division III: As with Spring Grove and Kennard-Dale, Bermudian Springs should rule the Division III landscape again, like it has since the league went to three divisions prior to the 2014-15 season.
The Eagles missed out on the Class 2-A state team tournament by one spot a year ago, losing in the semifinals. From that team, Bermudian is returning 11 wrestlers, but will be without 182-pounder Chase Dull, who suffered an ACL injury during the football season. Still, even without Dull in the lineup, the Eagles look to be formidable, with state-medal winner Ashton West (152) and state qualifiers Landon West (113), Austin Clabaugh (132) and Noah Fleshman (195) returning.
Delone Catholic and Biglerville will be Bermudian's biggest threats in Division III, but probably won't pose enough of one to dethrone the Eagles.
The Canners went 14-7 overall last year and their only defeat in division competition came to Bermudian. Biglerville only had one state qualifier from a year ago in senior Nate Newberry at 152 pounds, so it'll have to replace his 38 wins. The Canners also brought in a new coach over the summer, hiring former PIAA state champion Ken Haines to lead the program forward. Haines won the 189-pound state title in 1995 for Gettysburg, going a perfect 29-0 during the year.
Unlike Biglerville, the Squires are returning their state qualifiers from a season ago. Both Brian Shermeyer (152) and Brady Repasky (182) made the state tournament as juniors, combining for nearly 70 wins in 2015-16. Those two will certainly be the focal points of Delone's lineup this year, but watch out for other seniors such as Zach Hart, Sean Sneeringer and Bryce Perkins to make the Squires a tough team this season. Delone finished behind the Eagles and Canners in Division III last season, losing its only two division matches to those two schools, but still finished with an 8-6 overall mark. The Squires could leap frog Biglerville for second this year, but are still likely a class below Bermudian.
The only other school in Division III to have a state qualifier last season was Hanover. Caleb Garland qualified at 126 pounds. However, he graduated and will be a huge void in a Nighthawks' lineup. Hanover will likely have to battle to match last year's 3-3 mark in Division III and 6-6 record overall.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org