THURSDAY'S WRESTLING: Spring Grove nips Dallastown in thrilling Division I showdown

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
717-505-5403/@ydsports
  • Spring Grove earned a 27-26 wrestling win over Dallastown on Thursday night.
  • The match could ultimately decide the York-Adams Division I championship.
  • Spring Grove's Caleb Bowlin won the final bout of the night to give the Rockets the win.
Spring Grove's Caleb Bowlin, right, and Dallastown's Blake Keim wrestle in the 160 pound weight class at Dallastown Area High School in York Township, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

DALLASTOWN — Both coaches on Thursday night probably would've preferred to see this match happen much later in the season.

That's not the way York-Adams League schedule worked out, however, and the Dallastown and Spring Grove wrestling teams were forced to face off in a Division I opening showdown that could ultimately decide the division championship.

Despite the earliness of the meeting, the battle between the two D-I powers did not disappoint.

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A late decision and a key forfeit put the host Wildcats ahead by two points (26-24) heading into the final bout of the evening. That contest, which pitted rivals Blake Keim of Dallastown and Caleb Bowlin of Spring Grove at 160, was pretty much a representation of how the night unfolded up to that point.

Keim, who defeated Bowlin by decisions twice last season, led 2-0 after two periods. Bowlin, who had loud support from his teammates and coaches, was able to earn a match-tying takedown seconds before putting Keim’s shoulder on the mat for three nearfall points.

Bowlin was able to hang for a 5-2 victory that sent his Spring Grove teammates into celebration mode after a thrilling 27-26 triumph over the Wildcats.

“Caleb has been around and wrestled for me for a long, long time,” Spring Grove head coach Tyke Conover said. “We just preach that the match isn’t over until the final buzzer and Caleb did that.”

While the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic limited Bowlin’s supporters to just his coaches and teammates, it was certainly a big thrill for the junior, whose name was chanted by teammates when Conover called him over to talk to reporters after the match.

“It was nuts,” Bowlin said. “I knew I had to pull through for the team.”

How the deciding match unfolded: Things certainly didn’t appear to be tilted in Bowlin’s favor after Keim scored a late takedown in the first period to claim the 2-0 lead. Keim, who chose to take the down position in the second period, nearly escaped several times, but Bowlin was able to maintain control until the second-period buzzer sounded.

Choosing neutral to begin the third period, the Rocket standout nearly was taken down midway through the final stanza. Bowlin, however, was able to quickly avoid the takedown attempt and turned it into one of his own.

Seconds later, Bowlin was able to turn Keim over to secure the three points that proved to be decisive.

“I hit that miracle and got my three backs and I just knew I had the match in my hands,” Bowlin said. “I hear the team and everyone screaming, but I just tried to keep my head on the match to get the win.”

Conover told his team on the bus ride to Dallastown that this match was for the division title. Not surprisingly, his team left Dallastown feeling overjoyed and relieved to have prevailed.

Dallastown's Anthony Carulli, front, and Spring Grove's Ivan Vega wrestle in the 126 pound weight class at Dallastown Area High School in York Township, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Disappointed Wildcats: The Wildcats, meanwhile, were disappointed. Coach Dave Gable felt his team left a handful or more points on the mat, any of which could have reversed the outcome.

“They did all of the things that they needed to do,” Gable said. “And we did a very poor job of doing the things we needed to do. Whether it was not giving up (bonus) points or not getting more points at the end and not getting majors when we needed them, they did an excellent job of doing those things.”

The Rockets earned big bonuses with three pins on the night, starting at 106 with Levi Snyder. Braxton Rice (113) made it back-to-back falls before Ivan Vega, who wrestled for West York last year, scored a fall with 3.5 seconds left in the second period at 126.

Spring Grove's Tommy Dressler, front, and Dallastown's Brooks Gable wrestle in the 189 pound weight class at Dallastown Area High School in York Township, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Big win for Brooks Gable: While Gable was disappointed with the team score, he was pleased to see his son, Brooks, prevail in one of the best bouts of the evening.

Brooks Gable, who wrestled at 145 last season, bumped all the way up to 189 this year. That earned the PIAA Class 3-A state qualifier a battle with fellow PIAA qualifier Thomas Dressler. Dressler led for much of the bout only to see Gable rally for a thrilling 3-2 decision.

“I was excited to get a good match,” Brooks Gable said. “And with COVID, you’re not sure with the longevity of the season looks like because at any moment our program could get shut down, so it was just nice to be able to secure a good match.”

Both Gable (Air Force) and Dressler (Lock Haven) have committed to NCAA Division I programs.

OTHER WRESTLING

Northeastern 34, Kennard-Dale 21: At Manchester, the Bobcats picked up five forfeit victories to help secure the Y-A D-II victory. For the Rams, Avery Cummings (172) and Bronson Leach (285) each picked up pin. Northeastern improved to 2-1 overall and in the division.

Eastern York 42, Susquehannock 25: At Wrightsville, the Golden Knights received pins from Adam Dandridge (285) and Payton Ettinger (113) to secure the Y-A D-II home victory. For the Warriors, Jake Bender (172) and Tristan Coleman (132) each picked up pins.

Gettysburg 76, West York 0: At West York, the Warriors received pins from Sam Rodriquez (215), Trevor Gallagher (285), Reed Miller (106), Gabe Pecatis (113), Jake Fetrow (126) and Jared Townsend (152) to secure the Y-A D-II victory. Gettysburg improved to 2-0 in the division and 3-0 overall. West York fell to 2-2 in the division and 3-2 overall.

Bermudian Springs 63, Delone Catholic 4: At York Springs, the Eagles got pins from Jakson Keffer (126), Caleb Mantz (145), Cole Mosier (152), Chanse Boyer (160), Jonah Martin (172), Savauri Shelton (215) and Hogan Swenski (285) in the Y-A D-III triumph.

York Tech goes 1-1; Fairfield goes 0-2: At Fairfield, York Tech beat Fairfield 48-6 in a Y-A D-III match, while the Spartans fell to James Buchanan, 31-21, in a nonleague contest. Hermery (Jojo) Nieves Jr. had a pin for Tech in each of the contests at 189. Fairifled lost to James Buchanan, 36-12. Jacob Moyer (285) earned two wins for the Green Knights.