Stewartstown's Tiffani McNelis ready to take next step on her wrestling journey
The return of a successful longtime head wrestling coach sounds like something that would've garnered a lot of attention.
Yet, Dave Gable's return to coach the Dallastown High School varsity wrestling team went largely unnoticed.
He was hired back during the June school board meeting after Rob Jansen stepped down as the team's coach following the 2016-17 season.
"Obviously, when you have someone of that caliber in the building, that's who you go to first to see if they'd be willing to take over the program," Dallastown athletic director Tory Harvey said. "We had it posted and he obviously rose to the top for our candidates."
Jansen took over the wrestling team before the 2014-15 season, compiling a record of 29-23 in dual matches. Jansen is a graduate of Dallastown and wrestled for the team in high school.
Jansen is a parent to two young children and ultimately chose to step down because he wanted to spend more time with his family, according to Harvey.
Phone messages left for Jansen were not returned.
"Rob always had a lot of pride in seeing the program continue," Harvey said. "He was a longtime junior high coach for us who stepped into the varsity role for us three years ago and he did an outstanding job. I was very pleased and proud with the way he handled himself and continued a lot of the Dallastown wrestling traditions."
Stellar career: Gable is returning to lead the Wildcats after his first tenure with the program spanned 20 years from the 1989-90 season through 2008-09 campaign.
In that time, Gable amassed a career record of 257-84-1 record, which included 10 York-Adams Division I titles, eight of which came between 1992-93 and 2001-02. Dallastown also won the District 3 Class 3-A titles in 1998 and 2000 under Gable, while finishing as runners-up in 2001, 2004 and 2006.
"There were never any issues or lack of love or energy for the sport," Gable said. "It was more I had some family commitments that I wanted to spend time doing and didn't want to miss those opportunities."
Gable has three children and two of them were going on to compete in athletics in college around the time he resigned. His oldest son, Clay, won a state title in wrestling as a senior in 2009 and then wrestled for the Air Force Academy, while his daughter, Allyson, graduated in 2010 and ran track at Kutztown. Gable didn't want to miss out on seeing them perform in college.
As a wrestler at Dallastown, Gable became the first one in school history to eclipse the 100-win mark. In 2016, he was inducted into the York Area Sports Hall of Fame, both for his accolades on the mat in high school and as the Wildcats' head coach.
He wasn't away from sport or program: Since stepping down as the varsity coach, Gable wasn't completely away from the sport or the program. He spent time as the junior high coach, filling the hole left behind when Jansen moved from junior high coach to take the varsity position. He coached his youngest son, Brooks, who will be in ninth grade this year.
"Coaching is coaching and what level didn't really matter," Gable said. "I've coached at the youth level here, I've been the junior high coach, senior high coach. For me, any place I can coach Dallastown is great."
Through being a biology teacher at the high school and remaining part of the program at a different level, Gable knows the varsity program isn't far off from getting back to where it was when he coached it the first time. Spring Grove has established itself as the premier team in Division I, but the Wildcats have been formidable foes to the Rockets in recent years, giving Gable hope that he can continue to build the tradition of Dallastown wrestling.
"I don't feel like I'm bringing anything new and revolutionary to the program," Gable said. "Hopefully I can just continue to provide an atmosphere where kids can have fun and grow in the sport and hopefully grow up to be outstanding citizens. That's what we're hoping for and I think the building blocks have been there all along."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org