HERSHEY — Expectations weren’t especially high for the Dallastown wrestling team entering the 2019-20 season.
A District 3 Class 3-A runner-up a season ago, Dallastown had to fill a number of big holes in the lineup after graduating a handful of starters.
Coach Dave Gable knew he had some young talent waiting in the wings, but given the team's inexperience, he didn’t know what to expect from his squad.
Slowly but surely, Gable is getting to know what he has. To his pleasure, what he has is a lot to his liking.
Thursday evening in the first round of the PIAA Team Wrestling Championships at Hershey's Giant Center, Gable’s Dallastown squad made short work of District 12 champ Father Judge. Led by the talented youngsters, the Wildcats needed less than an hour to complete a 49-23 victory to advance to the quarterfinals. It was the second straight year that Dallastown beat Father Judge in its state opener.
Dallastown (16-3) will face District 1 champ Spring Ford, a 36-26 winner over District 2 champ Delaware Valley, at 2 p.m. Friday back at the Giant Center.
Gable analyzed the match succinctly.
“It was just about matchups and how things played out,” Gable said. “You just never know.”
Bisking improving in a hurry: Perhaps the youngster most emblematic of Dallastown's progress is sophomore Hunter Bisking.
A first-year varsity starter this season, it took the Dallastown heavyweight a while to find his groove. With his 31-second fall Thursday, Bisking (21-8) has now won his past nine contests, seven of which have come via pin.
“It hasn’t been an overnight thing,” Gable said of Bisking. “You just start adding up, all his matches week-by-week, and then fixing some things that haven’t worked so good, and he’s getting better.”
Bisking showcased his quick ability to improve last Saturday in the District 3 3-A final against Gettysburg. Taking on Trevor Gallagher, who claimed an 8-4 decision when they squared off in the regular season, Bisking scored a 7-5 victory.
Bisking is hoping that his improvement will lead him back to Hershey next month during the individual state meet. In addition to the coaching that Gable and his staff deliver, the Wildcat sophomore credits one of the Wildcat standouts who graduated last year for some of his growth.
“Jamal (Brandon) has been a big help,” Bisking said. “He’s helped out when his semester at college ended. He was on break and he just helped me out a lot.”
The momentum that Bisking has built over the season has been remarkable, even to himself.
“The beginning of the year was pretty rough,” he said. “But I started learning some new moves, hitting the weights and just getting better.”
Lots of pins: While Bisking continued his personal roll, he was not a one-man gang. The Wildcats won nine of the 14 bouts, seven of which came via pin.
The Dallastown pinners were Adam Karlie (120), Clay Strausbaugh (132), Sam Druck (145), Brooks Gable (152), Blake Feeney (182), Andrew Smith (195) and Bisking (285). Only one of those falls (Gable at 152) was recorded outside of the first period.
Zach Luckenbaugh (113) and Blake Keim (138) also recorded wins for Dallastown. Luckenbaugh began the night with an 8-2 decision while Keim earned a 14-6 major decision.
Gettysburg loses, then wins: In another PIAA Class 3-A first-round contest, previously unbeaten Gettysburg ran into a buzz saw in Canon McMillan, dropping a 45-18 decision Thursday night.
The Warriors (now 22-1) did bounce back Friday morning with a 41-33 consolation victory over District 4 champion Williamsport.
CM came in as the third-place team from District 7, but western Pennsylvania is one of the top wrestling regions in the state. CM also came in ranked No. 6 in the state in 3-A in the Trib/HSSN poll. District 3 champion Gettysburg was No. 10 in that same poll.
Dylan Reinert (182) and Trevor Gallagher (285) had pins for Gettysburg against CM, while Jacob Cherry (138) and Devin Compton (160) had decisions.
The loss to CM dropped the Warriors into the consolation bracket vs. Williamsport, which lost its state opener to District 11 runner-up Bethlehem Catholic, 62-6. Bethlehem Catholic is ranked No. 3 in the state in 3-A.
In the win over Williamsport, Gettysburg got pins from Tyler Withers (126), Nathan Ridgley (160), Compton (170), Reinert (182) and Max Gourley (195).
In its next consolation match, Gettysburg will face the loser of the Dallastown-Spring Ford match at 6 p.m. Friday.
Spring Grove 51, Dover 18: At Spring Grove, the Rockets received pins from Alec Villarreal (126), Brady Pitzer (145), Kahle Zumbrum (152), Tommy Dressler (170), Camden Rice (182) and Logan Herbst (220) to secure the nonleague win. For the Eagles, Mason Leiphart (113) captured a tech fall. Spring Grove improved to 13-6. Dover fell to 11-9.
South Western 72, Kennard-Dale 12: At Fawn Grove, the Mustangs improved to 12-6 with the nonleague win, receiving pins from Robert Utz (195), Wyatt Hale (113), Caleb Martz (120), Ethan Leitzel (145), Ethan Baney (152), Cameron Stevens (160), Owen Reed (170) and Nathan Hawkins (182). For the Rams (3-16), Aiden Stewart (132) picked up a pin.
Ephrata 42, York Tech 30: At Ephrata, the Spartans (11-12) received pins from Jacob Sharp (220) and Evyn McCleary (285). Ephrata is 3-9.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.