This weekend in Hershey, the Bermudian Springs wrestling team could accomplish something that's never happened in Dave McCollum's 38 years as head coach.
McCollum has won 500 dual meets, coached three different state champions and taken the Eagles to the state team finals, but he's never had a team earn two gold medals at one state championships meet.
This year's squad figures to have a chance to win two — or maybe more — Class AA championships. Seniors Sam McCollum, Colton Dull and Briton Shelton enter the weekend as district and regional champions with a combined record of 111-4. All three medaled at Giant Center last year, with Shelton taking fourth at 160 pounds, Dull taking seventh at 182 and McCollum taking eighth at 220.
Oh, and don't forget about junior heavyweight Brady Linebaugh, a district champion and regional runner-up who is 38-2 this season.
The big three seniors all enter the tournament with a "gold medal or bust" attitude, full of confidence after going two months or more without a loss. Shelton hasn't lost since an early January tournament at Lancaster Catholic, Dull suffered his only loss of the season at the same meet, and McCollum is undefeated this season and hasn't lost since the seventh-place match at Giant Center last season. Both Shelton and Dull nursed knee injuries from football early this season, but said they feel healthy now.
"Honestly, if I don't take first it'll be kind of disappointing," said Shelton, who moved up to 170 pounds this season. "All the work we've done the whole season and not getting anything out of it. ... I obviously want to medal, but if you're not first, you're last."
The work these three seniors have put in dates far beyond this season. As elementary school kids a decade ago, all three started wrestling for the Bermudian Springs Youth Wrestling Club, called the Outlaw Club at the time. They've improved together through the years and found success by constantly pushing each other in the practice room.
"It's huge to go a six-minute bout with someone in the room who will push you to wrestle your best," Sam McCollum said. "When you're having a bad day, they're gonna beat the snot out of you. If you're having a bad day, you're gonna get your face rubbed into the mat. To be the best, you have to wrestle the best."
They've also honed their skills by giving each other the opportunity to compete against different skill sets and body types on a daily basis. McCollum helps his lighter teammates gain strength, while Shelton and Dull force their heavier teammates to handle their quickness.
This weekend, the trio puts that work to use one last time as they put a final stamp on their high school careers.
"This is the tournament you work for your entire life," Dull said. "You always want to be on top of the state podium, and this is our last chance to do it."
A list of the York/Adams wrestlers competing in the PIAA wrestling championships, today to Saturday at Giant Center:
120: Caleb Garland (Hanover), Austin Clabaugh (Bermudian Springs)
145: Nate Newberry (Biglerville)
152: Dakota Mackley (Eastern York), Jordan Matthews (Littlestown)
160: Noah Fleshman (Bermudian Springs)
170: Briton Shelton (Bermudian Springs)
182: Colton Dull (Bermudian Springs)
195: Lucas Barshinger (Eastern York)
220: Sam McCollum (Bermudian Springs), Nate Mentzer (Biglerville)
285: Brady Linebaugh (Bermudian Springs), Zach MacLeod (Littlestown)
106: Dalton Rohrbaugh (Spring Grove)
113: Zurich Storm (New Oxford)
120: Derek Wilson (South Western)
126: Owen Wherley (South Western)
132: Levi Witmer (Spring Grove)
138: Dylan Chatterton (Central York)
145: Nicholas Shields (Dallastown)
152: Garrett Stauffer (West York)
160: Marcus Kehr (Spring Grove)
220: Seth Janney (South Western)