The wrestling program at Spring Grove has raised money for cancer research each of the last four winters. Coach Tony Miller has seen the amount of money increase with each year.

First, it was $5,000.

Then $10,000 the next year.

The total increased another $5,000 last year, which set the goal this year at $20,000.

Before Miller's wrestlers took to the mats Saturday against Central York, this year's program that partnered with the Rockets to sell T-shirts, the total was announced. It nearly doubled to about $28,500, which was presented to the Heather Baker Foundation, a local group that helps families battling cancer.

"They wouldn't tell me 'til the last minute," Miller said this year's total. "I was shocked as everyone else."

The initiative, called "Take Down Cancer," was formed by a handful of Spring Grove wrestlers. It's currently handled by Michelle Garrett, a teacher with Miller at Spring Grove, along with junior high wrestling coach Josh Ross and a few others.

The group conducts car washes, raffles and its biggest fundraiser, an adult social, to raise money. But the cause began with selling T-shirts, something spurred these days by junior Dakota Laughman.

A 132-pounder on this year's team, Laughman was in eighth grade when the fundraiser began. His older brother, Jake Verheyen, helped start the campaign when he was a 119-pound wrestler at Spring Grove. Once Verheyen graduated, Laughman felt the need to take on some of his responsibilities.

It included designing the last two T-shirts.

"Last year I was just kind of doodling and thought of that design," said Laughman, who first drew a ribbon with a wrestler inside of it having his hand raised. "Then I wanted to do it again."

That led to this year's shirt, which is a breast cancer symbol and set of wrestling shoes hanging down with the words "Rocket Wrestling" on the front. On how he came up with the designs, Laughman said, "That's the funny thing. I wouldn't consider myself a great artist."

This year's fundraising began in May with a "Zumba-thon," Laughman said. The other events are held throughout the summer and school year, with shirts being distributed just before winter break. Once school returned in session this year, Miller, Laughman and the whole team could see the results.

"Every day you can look down the hall and see at least one 'Take Down Cancer' shirt," Laughman said.

* * *

Shearer update: West York moved into a tie for first in the YAIAA Division I girls' basketball standings, but the Bulldogs will have to try and keep that spot without leading scorer Sarah Shearer.

Shearer's season and high school career came to a close Friday night at Dover, when the senior tore her ACL. The injury ended a week that began in celebration as Shearer scored her 1,000th career point. She also had just returned from a sprained ankle that sidelined her for two games.

Just like the first injury, Shearer tried to shrug it off and continue to play. However, Shultz said, she could not cut laterally.

"She grimaced and we had to get her out," Bulldogs head coach Jon Shultz said.

This will not be the end of Shearer's playing career in York County, though. She was recruited to play at York College, and Shultz said he received an email from coach Betsy Witman reaffirming her spot on the roster.

Shearer expects to have a follow-up next week and soon after surgery. The recovery process takes about eight months.

Bear(cat) of a weekend: William Penn (15-2, 11-0) can clinch a share of the YAIAA Division I boys' basketball title with a win at South Western (12-5, 9-2). The Bearcats have beaten South Western once already and own victories against Dallastown (12-5, 8-3) and Central York (9-9, 7-4), the other teams mathematically alive for division contention.

After tonight, Saturday doesn't get any easier. The Bearcats travel to Reading to face a Red Knights squad tested against some of the state's toughest teams.
@mgoul; 771-2045