The Littlestown wrestling program took significant strides under head coach Andrew Polashuk in the 2019-20 season.
While the Thunderbolts had an up and down dual season, it was the individual postseason where they shined brightest.
Connor Brown became a state placewinner for the first time at 113 pounds, going 31-8 along the way. Ayden Dillon went 30-13 and qualified for his first state tournament at 132 pounds, and Jeremy Gebhart came on late in the season to qualify for the regional tournament for the first time, posing a 17-15 record.
All three wrestlers are back this season and lead a Bolts team that has big goals.
“I think the big thing to take from last year is that they built a lot of confidence,” Polashuk said of his team. “Connor placing and Ayden getting into states was big for them, but also for the rest of the guys because they saw what was possible.”
This year, Brown has made a big bump up in weight to 138 pounds while Dillon moves up to 145, making them ideal practice partners.
“It allows them to really critique their craft, but it adds a little frustration where they’re constantly working to best one another,” Polashuk said of the move. “But it’s a good frustration. When they drill with one another it usually ends up with them wrestling live and working through positions.”
Brown said that the move up has taken some time to adjust, but that he feels confident going into the season.
“It’s going to be different wrestling at a higher weight, but I’ve gotten a lot stronger with that move,” he said. “Ayden has been a great partner along the way and he’s pushed me and made me better.”
As for Gebhart, Polashuk says that the heavyweight really began to click at the end of last year and that he has high expectations for the season to come.
“Gebby’s a worker. He was sick during football season, which was tough for him, but he’s come back in the wrestling room ready to go,” Polashuk said. “Last season he was working on a shrug to a double or a single and he’s gotten pretty good at that. If he can keep doing that and get to legs at that weight we think he can have a really productive season.
Other names that Polashuk pointed out as potential postseason contributors are Ian Donahue, a transfer from Indiana, Dakota Kroft who returns to the team after wrestling as a freshman and taking two years away, and senior Mason Hurst who he feels could be a regional qualifier.
“I don’t think Littlestown has won the league since 2000 and honestly I think we have a chance at that if everything goes our way,” Polashuk said. “We’re going to have almost a full lineup and with the guys we’ve got I really feel like we’ll be able to compete. We’ve got a lot of talent and a lot of experience and the guys have a lot of confidence.”