RED LION – The Rumble in the Jungle is returning for a sequel.
The wrestling marriage between Red Lion High School and Lock Haven University will continue at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13.
While many factors played a role in the renewal of the event, in the end it came down to connections and location.
The connections belong to Red Lion High wrestling head coach Mike Catullo, who formerly coached at the NCAA Division I level. The location of Red Lion High School fit well with the two teams competing in the 2019 event.
Last year's inaugural Rumble in the Jungle pitted Lock Haven (featuring former Kennard-Dale High star Chance Marsteller) against Arizona State.
This year's Rumble in the Jungle 2 will feature Lock Haven and Navy.
Chance to impress recruits: The allure for the NCAA Division I programs is the chance to showcase their teams in front of potential Pennsylvania recruits in one of the nation's hotbeds of high school wrestling.
That's certainly a big hook.
Throw in all of the Catullo's D-I college connections, and it's a recipe for success.
“It was a pretty big success,” Red Lion athletic director Arnie Fritzius said of last year’s event. “Lock Haven almost immediately, when the event was over, said that they would love to come back if the situation presents itself.”
The Bald Eagles got their wish.
“I think that nearly all schools love the chance to expose their programs to District 3 wrestlers,” Fritzius said. “We are one of the better wrestling areas in the entire country and I think that any college out there would love to get their program in front of potential recruits, and I’m sure that is part of the reason we can do this.”
Catullo's connections a key: The other part has to do with Catullo, who was an assistant coach for eight years at the University of Maryland. Since taking over the Red Lion program, Catullo had a desire to seek out bigger college programs to come wrestle at Red Lion.
“Coach Catullo has pretty extensive relationships within the NCAA coaching ranks,” Fritzius said. “He came to us from the University of Maryland and spent a lot of time in the NCAA world and he can pick up the phone and call just about anybody.”
Part of the success of last year’s event can be attributed to the fact that former four-time PIAA state champ Marsteller headlined Lock Haven’s roster. The official attendance for last year's event was 2,712, which is the largest in Ronald "Abe" Fitzkee Center history. Another big crowd is expected for the 2019 event.
Lots of area talent: Marsteller's All-American career at Lock Haven is now over, but there will still be plenty of local talent on both rosters. The Bald Eagles have eight wrestlers from District 3 schools, including former Spring Grove High standout Dalton Rohrbaugh, who was 20-14 for the Bald Eagles as a freshman.
Navy boasts seven wrestlers from Pennsylvania, including a pair from District 3 schools in Jacob Koser (Northern York) and Wyatt Long (Cumberland Valley).
“In a way this is a reward from both programs, and most of those kids to get a chance to wrestle back in front of their hometowns,” Fritzius said.
Tickets are being sold at redlionwrestling.org. General admission seats are priced at $20 or $25. Floor seats go for $40. A VIP package, featuring front-row mat-side seats, is being sold for $100.
Rumble in the Jungle 3? While Part 2 is still a week away, a Rumble in the Jungle 3 is already in the works. Fritzius confirmed there is interest from not only Lock Haven, but other programs to participate.
“We have somebody that’s already said that they want to come, but we’re not at liberty to say who that is yet,” Fritzius said. “And the intention is to do this again next year.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.