Nobody needs to remind the Dallastown wrestlers of the success that past Wildcat teams have enjoyed.
The Wildcats are coming off a campaign when the team reached the District 3 Class 3-A team championship and qualified for the state tournament.
This year, there's just one problem — eight of the seniors responsible for most of the team's points a season ago are no longer in the lineup.
Jamal Brandon (45-5), Raymond Christas (42-4), John Ligon (37-12), Franklin Klinger (31-13) and Jarrett Feeney (30-7) led the Wildcats’ senior class that accounted for nearly 70% of the team’s points during their dominant season that produced a 19-2 overall mark and 6-0 York-Adams League Division I record.
Dallastown coach Dave Gable isn’t worried about the lack of experience on the roster because of the examples set by wrestlers in years past.
“The culture was established by the previous groups of wrestlers so those things already were in motion,” Gable said. “We had more individuals willing to put in time than maybe ever this year. They’ll do what needs to be done to fill those shoes.”
While the athletes on the roster may be different this season, Gable said his preparation hasn’t changed.
The way the Wildcats are training for this year is no different than in the past and junior Brooks Gable, who went 27-22 a year ago, says that will allow the team to compete in the division with a number of new faces in the lineup.
“I think consistency is our best attribute,” Brooks Gable said. “We didn’t really switch anything up. When (the new wrestlers) were in junior high, they watched us go to states, they watched us be successful doing what we’re doing now and what we were doing then. They saw what needed to be done and we’re still doing it, so if they show up, they can be part of that as well.”
Although Dave Gable didn’t know exactly which sophomores would be replacing the dominant seniors this season, he added that the Wildcats have multiple athletes capable of filling the spots and that the level of effort in practice will lead to better production from the whole team.
While he knows that the loss of eight talented seniors will be difficult to replace, Dave Gable is aware of the expectations that previous teams have placed on this year’s squad.
Despite their lack of exposure to varsity wrestling, Dave Gable looks forward to what the new team members will do along with the return of senior Sam Druck (30-16), sophomore Caden Robbins and Brooks Gable.
“I am excited for the group we have coming,” Dave Gable said. “No, they don’t have as much experience as last year’s group and they are huge shoes to fill, but I think their enthusiasm and effort is going to make it a real fun year.”
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Division I: Gettysburg (5-1, 16-5) returns one of the top wrestlers in the league from last season. Senior Dylan Reinert went 46-5 a year ago, finished seventh in the state at 160 pounds and has committed to wrestle at the NCAA Division I level for North Carolina State. In addition to Reinert, the Warriors will be in the mix for the division title with senior Luke Sainato (38-12) and juniors Jacob Fetrow (32-10) and Max Gourley (27-14) back this season.
New Oxford (4-2, 12-7) returns its top three wrestlers from a season ago. Senior Timothy Uhler (35-7), senior Jared Bair (34-7) and junior Dylan Forbes (30-13) are back for the Colonials, but they'll need to replace the 28 wins senior Luke Lardarello recorded last year.
Spring Grove (3-3, 10-7) will miss the dominant production that Anthony Hinson (35-5) and Clay Baker (27-6) had in their final seasons. The Rockets return junior Thomas Dressler, who is coming off a 32-9 campaign a year ago.
Central York (2-4, 8-9) has to replace an elite season from heavyweight Michael Wolfgram, who went 36-1 last year and is now at West Virginia University. The Panthers will look for big seasons from seniors Mason Myers (32-8) and Tanner Schaller (29-12).
South Western (1-5, 12-8) returns senior Ethan Baney who posted a 31-8 record last year and has committed to wrestle for NCAA D-I Campbell University, coached by Pennsylvania wrestling legend Cary Kolat. The Mustangs will need to replace a trio of seniors who had solid seasons in Cavin Sullivan (25-5), Adam Leib (25-9) and Kasey Doll (23-14).
Red Lion (0-6, 0-10) will be without Cole Daugherty and his 15 wins as the team tries to bounce back from a difficult season. Junior Caleb Strayer will look to build off his 14-6 record last year and lead the Lions to a win this campaign.
Division II: Susquehannock (6-0, 13-5) returns a pair of seniors who had solid campaigns a year ago. The Warriors will have Colby Romjue (31-4) and Luke Ohmann (28-4) back after winning the Y-A Division II title. In addition to Romjue and Ohmann, the Warriors will look for junior Eric Saenz to improve on his 20-11 season.
After posting a 34-5 record in his first season, Dover sophomore Mason Leiphart will be a big part of the Eagles’ plans to compete for the division title. Junior Mason Lewis also returns for the Eagles (5-1, 12-6) after he posted a 26-7 record last year.
York Suburban (4-2, 15-8) returns four talented wrestlers that shined in their first seasons. Sophomores Noah Rice (26-6), Zachary Emory (26-9), Bryson Neidigh (24-11) and Jamal Lewis (23-10) will be a big part of what the Trojans do this year.
West York (3-3, 9-7) will miss the 26-8 record Frank Veloce posted in his final season. The Bulldogs will look to Eli Lawless (18-12) and Ivan Vega (17-9) and Bryce Weaver (17-14) to improve their records this year.
Eastern York (1-5, 8-12) will be without the 22 wins Nathan Robbins posted during his senior season. The Golden Knight will need seniors Justin Manganello (14-15) and Nicholas Spotts (13-12) to increase their win total in Division II.
Despite a down season as a team, Northeastern (1-5, 3-14) had one of the top wrestlers in the league last season. Senior Cole Wilson comes off a 35-4 campaign and recently signed to wrestle at NCAA Division I Campbell University. The Bobcats will need another solid season from senior Tom Gradwell, who went 24-14 last year.
Kennard-Dale (1-5, 4-15) will miss the production that Daemon Davis gave the team during his 17-6 senior campaign. Senior Nick Bradley will attempt to build on a solid season where he went 11-3.
Division III: Perennial power Bermudian Springs (6-0, 20-3) comes off a dominant season and returns a number of the top performers from that team. Senior Trenton Harder (32-7), junior Alijah Wheeler (31-11), senior Korey Smith (26-12) and sophomore Brennan Schisler (25-10) will be key contributors to the Eagles’ efforts to repeat as Division III champions.
Littlestown (5-1, 5-5) will miss the dominant records Jason Penton (32-5) and Carl Harris (25-5) posted during their senior seasons. The Thunderbolts will be led by junior Connor Brown who went 31-7 last year.
Although the record doesn’t suggest so, Biglerville (3-3, 9-11) had some of the top wrestlers in the Y-A League last season. The Canners will miss Joshua Tuckey (36-8) and Eli Tuckey (34-13), who had big senior season. Biglerville returns a group of talented athletes, including sophomore Levi Haines (40-1) and junior Blake Showers (39-11). Haines finished second in the state in 2-A at 106 pounds last season and is ranked among the top high school lightweights in the nation.
Delone Catholic (3-3, 5-13) will be without Robert Partenza, who led the team with 17 wins during his senior season. The Squires will look to junior Tate Neiderer, who starred on the football field in the fall, to build off his 15-13 record to improve on the team’s record this year.
York Tech (2-4, 9-6) returns senior Jacob Sharp after a stellar 21-4 season. In addition to Sharp, the Spartans will look for juniors Evyn McCleary (12-9) and Hermery Nieves (11-5) to take a step forward after solid sophomore seasons.
Hanover (2-4, 3-7) returns junior Malcolm Gerlach after a 21-10 season. The Nighthawks also bring back senior Michael Corbin, who went 15-9 a year ago.
Fairfield (0-6, 0-10) will sorely miss Page Karsteter, who posted a 28-10 record during his senior season. The Knights will need junior Jacob Moyer (21-9) to have another strong season for the Knights.
Reach Rob Rose at email@example.com.