Local wrestlers look to take next step to state tournament
A number of wrestlers just missed making it out of districts and regionals last year
Matt Guilday has had a lot of time to think about his last loss.
The Littlestown wrestler came one win short of reaching the state tournament last season, losing in the regional tournament. Now a senior, getting past that point is the only thing motivating him.
“I came back this season with a bad taste in my mouth from last year,” Guilday said. “Missing out (on going to the state tournament) by one match definitely makes you want to come back even stronger.
“Wrestling, wrestling and more wrestling, that’s where all my focus was this summer.”
Guilday is far from the only local wrestler who feels this way. Although the season just started Monday, a number of competitors already have their sights set on the state tournament.
Teammate Cory Becker is in a similar boat as Guilady. Although he's just a junior, Becker still hasn’t gotten over losing to Tri-Valley’s Sammy Hepler in regionals. Despite having cut from 132 to 126 midway through last season, he's now bumped up to 138 pounds.
While Becker is still just a junior, he’s going into this season with the urgency of a senior.
“My only goal was beating the guy who beat me and I want to wrestle him again,” Becker said. "It’s all about this year. I want a state medal this year and I worked my butt off this year. Wrestling defines me, it’s my lifestyle. I can’t imagine going a week without it.”
Wrestling is the only sport that Guilday and Becker participate in. But over at Delone Catholic, a number of football players are also looking to make it to the state tournament for the first time, including Brian Shermeyer.
A quarterback on the football field for the Squires, Shermeyer didn’t have much time to think about wrestling until two weeks ago. Still, the junior is focused on getting to states after also coming one win shy a season ago.
After competing at 145 pounds last year, Shermeyer spent the summer attempting to bulk up for both sports and will likely wrestle at 160, where he believes he will be more effective.
“Being one match away from state really hurt,” Shermeyer said. “I’ve been lifting and getting stronger. I feel like that hurt me last year and the year before, just being weaker than everybody I was wrestling.”
Bermudian Springs senior Jarod Miller is in both a similar and different position as Shermeyer. While Miller is still in the process of cutting weight from football season to get down to 138 pounds, he too lost during the second day of regionals last season.
Miller spent the summer training and competing in national tournaments with the Gettysburg club team the Gladiators, an experience he called "a totally different challenge that was really good for me." Now as a senior, he's determined not to lose in regionals again.
"(Losing) showed me that I needed to make my goal to make sure that doesn't happen and make it further on," Miller said. "Hopefully I'll do better than last year. Ultimately you want to do better than you did every other year and that's your ultimate goal."
Local wrestlers talk about improving and trying to reach the state tournament this season. Matt Allibone
Attendance and Expectations
Less is definitely more for Littlestown this season. While the Thunderbolts only have 14 wrestlers, head coach Kerry Ferguson is excited to be able to fill every weight class, something he hasn’t been able to do the past few seasons.
“That’s a key, you’re not going into a match knowing you’re automatically down 12 points. You’re in it,” Ferguson said. “You’re not in the hole to begin with so that’s a bonus.”
Along with Guilday and Becker, another wrestler to keep an eye on is 182-pound senior Connor Geiman, who finished sixth at districts last season.
Delone Catholic is in a similar situation as Littlestown, with 18 kids in the program this year. Coach Frank Sneeringer said he’s expecting to fill every weight except 132, a total he’s comfortable with.
“Some people have weak wrestlers and you go in there knowing you’re giving away three pins,” Sneeringer said. “You’ve got to expect (if you forfeit three matches) that out of the next 11 you’ve got to win seven. And we’ve got to get pins and our best wrestlers know they have to get pins.”
The Squires only have one senior (Joe Cassella) this season, but Sneeringer is banking on big performances from a number of underclassmen, including junior heavyweight Bryce Perkins.
Perkins, who finished sixth at districts last season, bulked up from 220 to 240 pounds in the offseason and said he feels more comfortable at heavyweight.
Bermudian Springs, on the other hand, will have no trouble filling up every weight. The Eagles return a strong lineup led by Brady Linebaugh, Austin Clabaugh and Noah Fleshman, who all qualified for the state tournament last year. Ashton West, who finished a place short of regionals last season, will also be counted on to be a major contributor.