Spring Grove wrestling handles New Oxford for 50-15 division victory

The Rockets handled the Colonials and all but secured the York-Adams Division I title.

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

SPRING GROVE — On paper, it should have been a close match. In reality, it was something much different.

The showdown for York-Adams Division I supremacy finally arrived as the clash of unbeatens — New Oxford and Spring Grove — finally squared off Thursday evening at Spring Grove High School. While both teams entered with identical 3-0 records, however, the Rockets proved without a doubt that they were a little better than the Colonials.

Make that a lot better.

A streak of five consecutive falls turned a 3-3 contest after two bouts into a dominating 33-3 advantage for the Spring Grove boys, who coasted to a convincing 50-15 triumph.

Spring Grove against New Oxford during their wrestling match in Spring Grove on Thursday, Jan.12, 2022.

Perhaps one of the only ones that really didn’t believe the final outcome would be decided late was Spring Grove coach Tyke Conover.

“Did I think it was going to be close?” Conover asked. “Nah, that was pretty much what I had expected, to be honest with you. Just looking at comparable scores and all of that, and I think New Oxford has a nice team, but we’re just a step ahead of them. Our kids showed up and wrestled well.”

Perhaps the only thing that didn’t please the Spring Grove fans that filled the arena Thursday was the fact that Rocket stud Levi Snyder didn’t wrestle. That’s not because Snyder, who is 23-1 on the season now, was injured or anything, but because the Colonials forfeited the bout at 139 to him.

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While Snyder wasn’t able to show off for the hometown fans, heavyweight Michael Hershey did. An all-state lineman for the Spring Grove football team this fall, Hershey has been a one-outcome grappler this season. Of his 24 matches this season, Hershey has either pinned or been pinned in 23 of them.

Still a little raw as a junior, Hershey was able to secure win No. 20 of the season with a first-period fall over Malachi Smith.

“I try to just take them down, work to the next thing and then (get the pin),” Hershey said. “I think (Smith) was a first-year wrestler, but he gave me a bit of run there. I could tell he was really strong, but I just kept working to get the takedown and eventually earn the fall.”

Spring Grove's Michael Hershey against New Oxford's Micah Smith during their 285lbs wrestling match in Spring Grove on Thursday, Jan.12, 2022.

Conover hasn’t been surprised by the success of Hershey, who was 23-14 last year as a sophomore. While not a man of many words, Hershey is one of the team’s leaders with respect to his actions on the wrestling mat.

“Michael is just a tremendous athlete,” Conover said. “He has great hips and he’s very coachable and is a hard worker. Michael is very aggressive and he’s always working towards that pin. He has very little to say, but he speaks with his actions.”

As a team, the Rockets spoke with their actions throughout the night. Luke Smyser, who ultimately dropped a 12-9 decision in the opening bout of the night at 160, rallied back from a 12-0 deficit late. Chase Amspacher fell behind 5-0 in his match at 172 with Lane Johnson but secured a come-from-behind, 7-5 victory.

Then came the steady sounds of the official’s hand slapping the mat. Abrum Dull (189), Teague Conover (215), Hershey (285), Andrew Telencio (107) and Tanner Grim (114) all earned falls on the night the Spring Grove wrestling alumni were honored. Jarod Baker (145) and Henry Rumbaugh (152) closed out the night with a technical fall and decision, respectively.

Now that the D-I race is all but decided — the Rockets have a match with Dallastown (0-4 D-I, 2-7 overall) next week and have already beaten everyone else — Conover and his squad will look to determine just how well they stack up in District 3 Class 3A over the next two weeks. Contests against Mid-Penn Conference powers Central Dauphin (4-0, No. 1 in 3A power rankings) and Gettysburg (8-2, No. 9 in 3A) are on the plate before the regular season concludes.

“I think we’re right where we should be,” Conover said of his team, which improved to 10-3 overall. “I’m very pleased with where we’re at, but to me, it doesn’t matter where we get in at in the district tournament (that has 12 spots). If we’re No. 5 or No. 12, it doesn’t matter because you (still) have to wrestle another good team right out of the gate anyway.”