Building up a successful high school wrestling program isn’t something that can typically be done in a year or two.
Just take a look at York-Adams League Division I champion Gettysburg. When Chris Haines took over the Warriors program a decade ago, the Gettysburg roster was just nine members deep.
This season, with a roster of more than 25, the Warriors won not only the Division I crown, but also the District 3 Class 3-A title.
York Suburban wrestling coach Bryan Gentzyel has his program following a similar path. In his ninth season at the Trojans’ helm, Gentzyel’s youthful Trojan program took a big step forward this season, capturing the school’s first-ever outright division championship.
“We’re in the low 20s right now,” Gentzyel said about his team’s roster size. “And that’s the most we’ve ever had since I’ve been here.”
Historic season: That depth helped not only at practices, creating competition for spots in the lineup, but also in the standings.
Suburban completed its regular season with a 17-6 record, including a 6-0 mark en route to the Y-A D-II crown. Gentzyel and his program also earned just the third District 3 berth in program history.
“We only pulled up maybe three or four freshmen into the varsity lineup this year,” he said. “And that really helped out.”
Sensational sophomores: The ascent of the Suburban wrestling program into a new era was propelled mainly by a group of five freshmen from a season ago, sparking Suburban to a 15-9 mark in 2018-19.
Those five — Dequese Dillon, Zach Emory, Jamal Lewis, Bryson Neidigh and Noah Rice — are now sophomores and are a big reason that Gentzyel is optimistic about the future.
Like what you're reading?: Not a subscriber? Click here for full access to The York Dispatch.
Emory and Rice will carry impressive 26-3 records into this weekend’s District 3 Class 3-A Section IV action at South Western High School. Dillon is 16-8, while Neidigh is 16-5 despite missing time because of injury this season.
Lewis was an impressive 9-1 this year, but his season was upended by a pair of meniscus injuries suffered to each of his knees. Another sophomore, Christopher Beaudoin, is 12-4 this season.
Dealing with injuries: Had it not been for a bevy of untimely injuries, Gentzyel believes his team, which lost in the first round of districts to Hempfield, could have made a deeper run in the team draw.
“Bryson was out for a good three to four weeks,” Gentzyel said. “Jamal was injured for probably more than half of the season. And Gaven Barshinger missed a lot of the season with an elbow injury.”
The good news for the Trojans is that everyone but Lewis should be available for this weekend’s action.
Better yet, Gentzyel expects more than a handful of his guys will earn top-four seeds in the draw. That’s important, because the top four finishers move on to the District 3 bracket.
“I imagine we’ll have some pretty high seeds,” he said. “Not that that really means too much, but we have a number of guys with pretty high average-points-per-bout numbers.”
The seeds for the sectional draw will be decided Wednesday evening during a meeting between all of the sectional coaches.
Other Trojans who could make noise: In addition to the sophomores, the Trojans have several other wrestlers who could make some noise this postseason, including senior Dylan Leik (23-7), freshman Brayden Gentzyel (20-8), junior Mike Jury (19-10), freshman Kenneth Johnson (18-9) and senior Nasier Spellman (15-3).
That gives the Trojans 10 wrestlers who will enter sectionals with least a dozen wins while also carrying a winning percentage of at least .650. Only two of those are seniors.
Class 3-A sectional lineup: Suburban will be joined at the 14-team South Western sectional by Central York, Dallastown, Dover, Gettysburg, New Oxford, Northeastern, Red Lion, South Western, Spring Grove, Susquehannock, Waynesboro, West York and York Tech.
Gettysburg (22-2) and D-I runner-up Dallastown (17-5), which recently earned two state 3-A victories, figure to be the strongest programs at South Western.
The 3-A field is divided into four sections, with the other sections at Gov. Mifflin, Hempfield and Mechanicsburg.
Class 2-A sectional lineup: In 2-A, there are just two sections, at Susquenita and at Central Dauphin East.
The Y-A teams will compete at Susquenita. They are Bermudian Springs, Biglerville, Delone Catholic, Eastern York, Fairfield, Hanover, Kennard-Dale and Littlestown. The other teams in the 17-team section are Boiling Springs, East Pennsboro, Halifax, James Buchanan, Newport, Susquenita, Trinity, Upper Dauphin and West Perry.
The top six wrestlers in each weight class at Susquenita will advance to the District 3 2-A Championships.
The strongest teams in the Susquenita sectional figure to be Y-A D-III champion Bermudian (19-4), Boiling Springs (11-3), Newport (17-4) and West Perry (17-6).
Postseason schedule: Action at each of the sectionals, in both 3-A and 2-A, starts at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, and 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15.
The District 3 Championships are divided into two sites this season and are set for Friday, Feb. 21, and Saturday, Feb. 22, with the 2-A action taking place at Central Dauphin East and the 3-A competition at Spring Grove High School.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.