In each of the last five years Shippensburg high school wrestling has has at least one state place-winner. Though all those wrestlers have since graduated, Greyhound wrestling coach Tony Yaniello doesn't see that streak ending in 2019.
Shippensburg's best bets to continue the streak are juniors Dylan Ramsey and Jeffrey Russell. Ramsey posted a 30-7 record a season ago and placed second at sectionals. Russell finished last season with a 29-11 record and is a two-time district qualifier.
“Those two guys aren't any different than what we had with Chandler [Olson], Cole [Forrester], [Cameron] Tinner, or [Dylan] Herb,” Yaniello said Tuesday. “They have certainly put the time in and have a taste of what you need to do to get to that state tournament and once you get there anything can happen. The battle is getting out of sectionals and districts.”
Both wrestlers saw their season end in disappointing fashion at districts. Ramsey (30-7) was upended by Carlisle's Rafael Portillo, whom Ramsey defeated at sectionals a week prior, and Portilla ended up qualifying for states. Russell (29-11) finished one win shy of a state bid, placing 5th in the 113-pound weight bracket.
“Last year I feel like I didn't do my best. I want more, and I'm trying to do the best that I can this year. I want to place at states,” Ramsey said after practice Tuesday.
“Jeffrey and Dylan both have put in the work,” Yaniello added. “Being only sophomores last year I think they learned a lot and it has motivated them into being a better wrestler this year. The biggest difference I've seen this year is the growth muscle wise and with their maturity. But that being said, a lot of the same players are back that beat them. I am sure they've improved also. It's just a matter of wanting it more and part of that is their work effort.”
Ramsey will begin the year wrestling in the 132-pound weight class with the goal of making it down to 126 in time for the postseason. Russell will start at 120 and plans to eventually end up in the 113-pound bracket.
Coach Yaniello pegged junior 195-pounder Colton Musser and junior heavyweight Rook Smith, two wrestlers that starred on the Shippensburg high school football team, as a pair of breakout candidates that can join Ramsey and Russell on a deep postseason run.
“I want my kids competing, not just in the weight room,” Yaniello stated. “Those two guys were competing at the varsity football level and gaining confidence. They are not going to see anything on the wrestling mat that they haven't seen already. Colton is a three year starter who is back at the same weight, but leaner and meaner. You see a big difference in them.”
Colton Runshaw represents the only senior on the Greyhound roster. Other returning wrestlers include Tristyn Keefer, Kohl Holderbaum, Aiden Reed, Gab McCardell, Trevor Diehl, Owen Diehl, and Avian Vazquez.
Last season, the Greyhounds went 6-7 overall in dual meets, but 5 of those losses came at Gettysburg Duals, where they were without 4 of their starters. With only one senior, dual meets do not appear to be one of the Greyhounds' strong suits this go-round. A stacked Boiling Springs team is the early favorite to win the Mid Penn Colonial Division.
“We'll be okay in dual meets, but we don't have a strong dual meet team because of a lack of seniors,” Yaniello admitted. “We won't be a pushover either, we have six or seven good wrestlers that are going to win most of their matches.”
“We have a lot of kids that are new this year, but they've all been actually working pretty hard. I am just trying to help get them better,” Ramsey said.
The Greyhounds open their season with their first individual tournament this weekend, the Cumberland Valley Kickoff Tournament Friday and Saturday at Cumberland Valley High School.