New conference, new opponents, same results.
That was the case for the Gettysburg wrestling team last Saturday when the Warriors flattened State College and Mifflin County to begin life as a member of the Mid-Penn Conference. Pins were the order of the day – which comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention the Warriors – as the hosts used five in each match to go 2-0. William Yordy, Jaxon Townsend and Tyler Withers posted two falls apiece.
Gettysburg finds itself right back in the spotlight on Wednesday when its hosts Cumberland Valley in what should be a whale of a Commonwealth Division match. Like the Warriors, the Eagles qualified for the PIAA Team Championships last season and return plenty of firepower. Gabe Belga (35-8) and Anthony Bruscino (32-7) are back, likewise for sophomores Phil Montes (24-10) and Jake Mitchell (24-12).
That quartet is spread out for head coach Billy Chamberlain, with Montes (107), Mitchell (133), Belga (152) and Bruscino (189) combining to go 14-6 at the CV Kickoff Classic last Saturday.
Potential match-turning clashes could include Belga vs. Dalton Redden and Bruscino vs. Withers.
Also on Wednesday night, Bermudian Springs lifts the lid on its dual meet schedule by traveling to face Susquenita. The young Eagles are looking to erase memories of last year’s uncharacteristic 8-11 campaign that left them out of the District 3 2A Team Championships for only the second time since 2000.
Freshman Hayden Yacoviello-Andrus served notice on Saturday at Cumberland Valley with a fifth-place finish at 133 that included a win over Nazareth senior Charlie Bunting, a two-time 3A state medalist. Yacoviello-Andrus dropped a 5-4 decision to Faith Christian freshman and eventual champ Mason Wagner in the semis, and fell to Bunting in ultimate tiebreaker in the consys before taking fifth.
Sophomore Austin Anderson, who won 23 bouts last season, was sixth for the Eagles after going 3-3 at 121.
Susquenita only entered nine wrestlers in the Solanco Tournament over the weekend, led by senior Mason McLendon who won the title at 114. McLendon is a three-time state qualifier searching for his first PIAA medal.
On Thursday Biglerville welcomes Middletown for a non-conference dual meet. The Canners are coming off a 15-6 campaign that included a perfect 7-0 mark in the YAIAA-3. Ken Haines’ team went 2-3 at the Ephrata Duals to open the season, beating Warwick and Columbia while losing to Ephrata, Norwin and Malvern Prep. The loss to Ephrata came in tiebreaking criteria.
Caden Kessel (17-11), Brody Gardner (25-16), Joey Ney (24-18), Devan Ponce (31-10), Seth Lady (16-11), Levi Roberts (21-20) and Mason Keiper (28-12) are among the top returners for Biglerville.
ON CAMPUS: Former New Oxford standout Jared Bair placed second at 157 for York College in its New Standard Invitational over the weekend. Bair, a junior, improved to 11-4 on the season with three pins and four major decisions.
Also competing for the Spartans and head coach Duane Bastress are former Gettysburg wrestlers Jared Townsend and Sam Rodriguez. Townsend sits at 10-3 with 3 pins and four technical falls at 174 pounds while Rodriguez is off to a 3-6 start at 285. . . The Tuckey twins – Josh and Eli – are in their respective redshirt junior seasons for Millersville University. Josh went 2-1 to place second in the East Stroudsburg Open at 149 earlier this year while Eli is off to a 6-4 start at 157. The former Canners are competing alongside New Oxford grad Tim Uhler, a redshirt sophomore who is 2-1 at 141. . . Former Bermudian Springs big man Hogan Swenski is 4-2 competing at 285 for Ohio State University. Swenski, a redshirt freshman, went a combined 14-10 the last two seasons competing unattached.
HE’S BAAAAACK: Spencer Lee was back on a wrestling mat Sunday, doing Spencer Lee things.
The Iowa senior made his return to action after missing nearly all of last season due to knee surgery. Lee, one of the most decorated scholastic wrestlers to hail from Pennsylvania, ran up a quick 12-1 lead over Iowa State’s Corey Cabanan at 125 before coasting to a 16-5 major decision.
Lee’s bonus-point win helped the No. 2 Hawkeyes defeat their archrivals, 18-15.
Lee is a four-time All-American gunning for a rare fourth NCAA national title. If successful, he would join an exclusive club that includes Pat Smith of Oklahoma State, Iowa State’s Cael Sanderson, Kyle Dake of Cornell and Ohio State’s Logan Stieber. Of note, Sanderson, the Penn State University head coach, went 159-0 for the Cyclones and Dake is the only wrestler to win four titles at four different weight classes.
Stieber’s combined record in high school and college was 303-4, which included 179 consecutive wins on the scholastic level.
Lee isn’t the only current NCAA standout aiming for a fourth title, as Cornell senior Yianni Diakomihalis has three championships in hand. Entering the season, Diakomihalis had won 304 of his last 305 folkstyle matches counting high school and college. His record at Cornell was 93-1, which included a 75-match winning streak.
That came to a sudden halt on Nov. 19 when Wisconsin’s Austin Gomez dealt the defending champ a 9-3 setback at 149 pounds.
DOWN GOES DEAN: It was a rough two-match stretch for 197-pound national champion Max Dean of Penn State. Last Friday, Dean fell in sudden victory to Ethan Laird of Rider, 3-1. Laird, who piled up a school-record 138 wins and was a PIAA runner-up in 2017 while competing for General McLane, took the champ down in OT for Rider’s lone win of the match.
Two days later, Dean faced off with former PSU wrestler Michael Beard, who came in ranked 9th for Lehigh. The two stars let it fly with Beard hitting four takedowns on his way to an 11-9 victory.