Dover's Mason Leiphart one of four York-Adams wrestlers to win District 3 3-A gold medals
SPRING GROVE – The story was much the same for Dover’s Mason Leiphart during his first three forays into the District 3 Class 3-A Wrestling Tournament.
All of the hard work and dedication paid dividends during each of Leiphart’s freshman, sophomore and junior campaigns, when the Eagles standout advance far into the District 3 draw.
Each time, however, Leiphart’s journey was stopped just short of district gold.
With three district silver medals to his name, Leiphart was looking to finally write a new narrative this weekend at Spring Grove High School. He was determined to become a District 3 3-A gold medalist.
Taking nothing for granted, Leiphart dominated through the district draw Friday evening and Saturday morning by earning a pin to go with a pair of technical falls to make it back to the final.
That is where Leiphart’s story took a slightly strange, somewhat bittersweet, yet satisfying turn.
Set to square off against Manheim Township’s Kamdyn Williams in the final at 120 pounds, Leiphart and his coach Josh Murray were informed before the finals began that Williams, a returning District 3 champion from last season, would default the contest.
Leiphart was one of a quartet of York-Adams League wrestlers claiming district 3-A gold medals Saturday. Dallastown’s Caden Dobbins (152) and Gettysburg teammates Sam Rodriguez (215) and Trevor Gallagher (285) all won their championship bouts to earn coveted gold medals.
While the default earned Leiphart his first district gold medal — and Dover’s first district champion since Mark Eckenrode in 1989 — there was certainly a bit of disappointment in the way it was earned.
“It’s good,” Leiphart said in reference to the gold medal around his neck. “I’m glad to finally be at the top (of the podium) and not be runner-up. Maybe a little bit (bittersweet), but I’m happy to have it after three silvers.”
It was a great feeling for both Leiphart and Murray, who is in his first year as head coach of the Dover program, to celebrate accomplishing a mutual goal that both set at the beginning of the season. It would have been better, however, for Leiphart to do it by earning his victory on the mat.
“Unfortunately, it had to end this way, but it’s something that you can’t take away from him,” Murray said of Leiphart, who is now 36-0 on the season. “We got word from the organizers that (Williams) wasn’t feeling well, but if you’re not feeling well, I think you still wrestle and that’s my opinion.”
Dobbins earns a title: Dobbins, a silver medalist at districts a year ago, battled a familiar face in Shippensburg’s Dominic Frontino in the final.
Dobbins won a 3-2 decision in overtime in last year’s district semifinals to earn a berth in the final before Frontino evened the score with 6-5 victory at the Super Regional draw.
The rubber match was a defensive stalemate. Neither wrestler was able to score points offensively. A second-period escape by Dobbins was the lone tally of the match. Dobbins held on for a 1-0 triumph.
“That’s just how it played out,” Dobbins said of the low-scoring affair. “You just have to be smart about it and not do anything dumb.”
Frontino nearly escaped from the down position early in the third before Dobbins (37-2) rode him out of bounds. After the reset, Dobbins remaining firmly in control for the last 90-plus seconds of the bout, just missing a couple of times in securing a cradle.
“I felt like I had him, but you just never really know,” Dobbins said.
After the horn sounded to end the match, Dobbins has excited to have his hand raised in victory, even if it was difficult to see visually.
“Probably not,” Dobbins said in response to a question of whether or not he smiled. “My coach (Dave Gable) told me that I need to smile, because I don’t smile much.”
The normally stoic Dobbins, however, did grin a bit when asked if he would celebrate his triumph with a steak dinner.
“Yeah, that sounds really good,” he said.
Spring Grove’s Ivan Vega ran into a buzzsaw in his attempt to earn a fifth district title for the Y-A League at 132 pounds Saturday.
Central Dauphin’s Matt Repos scored a decisive 16-0 tech fall at the 3:35 mark to hand the Spring Grove senior only his third loss of the season in the final.
“I learned that I have to stay composed when things start going bad,” Vega said. “I’ll have to keep practicing with good people in the room, good competitors for practice. I have a lot of time to get ready for the next time I step on the mat.”
Notes: The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the PIAA 3-A draw in two weeks at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Gettysburg's Rodriguez (36-2) won his title match at 215, 11-3, over Central Dauphin East's Travis Armstrong. Rodriguez's teammate, Gallagher (39-5), won the 285 crown with a 3-2 verdict over Central Dauphin's Ben Stewart.
Gettysburg head coach Chris Haines was named the District 3 Class 3-A Coach of the Year, as voted on by the coaches, after his team finished fifth in the 3-A team standings at 87.5 points behind Manheim Township (146.5), Central Dauphin (103.5), Hempfield (92.5) and Chambersburg (90.5). Central York was eighth at 59.0 points and Dallastown was 10th at 52.0.
Gettysburg’s Gabe Pecaitis dropped a 5-2 decision in the third-place bout at 120.
Zach Luckenbaugh of Dallastown fell by a 5-4 margin in his third-place contest at 126.
Central York’s Carter Davis won a 9-1 decision over Dover’s Wyatt Dillon in the third-place match at 138.
Central York’s Macon Myers scored a 5-2 decision at 160 over Gettysburg’s Jacob Cherry in the third-place contest.
District medalists who will not advance to states include Central York’s Elias Long (sixth at 126), York Suburban’s Noah Rice (fifth at 145), Spring Grove’s Teague Conover (sixth at 189) and Central York’s Ethan Miller (fifth at 285).
The York-Adams League didn't have any champions at the District 3 2-A meet at Central Dauphin East. Biglerville was the top York-Adams team, taking sixth, while Boiling Springs took the 2-A team crown.
Reach Steve Heiser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.