Tony Yaniello takes Shippensburg on record flight
Tony Yaniello said, "We're just trying to put Shippensburg on the map."
It's safe to say that in wrestling circles, the Greyhounds clearly arrived on the map in the 2016-17 season.
In Yaniello's seventh season at the helm, Ship not only broke through to qualify for its first District 3 Team Wrestling Tournament appearance, but smashed expectations by winning two matches to reach the semifinals, then giving eventual champion Exeter Township a scare in the semifinals before falling 38-23.
He has been named the Public Opinion Coach of the Year for the second time.
"We've been trying to build a different culture here at Shippensburg," Yaniello said. "In my early years, our teams didn't think they could beat good teams, but then we started to change that. I thought the last three years, if our schedule had been different, we could have gotten into district duals."
When they finally did get in, they made it count. Ship defeated Dallastown 35-28, then shocked Spring Grove 37-35. The Hounds, who finished 11-4, placed fourth after falling to Cumberland Valley in a consolation match.
One person who has been a big help in the turnaround has been Chandler Olson, who was very good as a freshman, and continued to get better every year. He medaled at states all four years and was a rock for the program.
"Chandler never missed a practice or dual meet and his record in dual meets was 66-0 in his career," Yaniello said. "He was a big part of changing things for us. We always say that we're only as good as our weakest link, and the better kids would go around the room and help the younger kids to get better."
That was shown - much to Yaniello's delight - in the district tournament. Against Dallastown, Ian Reed, a .500 wrestler, clinched the win with a victory. In the upset over Spring Grove, Philip Torres, who had a 6-12 record and was coming off an injury, scored a crucial pin to ensure the win.
"That was a good feeling because those kids weren't intimidated," Yaniello said.
The Greyhounds went on to send three wrestlers to the PIAA Tournament - Olson, Cameron Tinner and Cole Forrester.
Yaniello's philosophy is to analyze each kid separately: "You have to be a part psychologist," he said, "and make what they do best even better. We don't practice and show new moves to everybody every night. We teach different kids different styles, things you think they can do well."
It's that kind of foundation the Ship coaches try to follow from the elementary program through middle school into the varsity.
"I'm very proud of what the kids accomplished this year," Yaniello said.