MILLERSVILLE, Pa. – York College wrestling head coach Tom Kessler captured his 300th victory at the helm of the Spartan wrestling program Saturday as the Green and White squad picked up the Mid-Penn Duals Championship Saturday afternoon in Millersville. The #15 Spartans were flawless as a team on the day and added three wins to their season total to stand at 21-3 on the season. York bested Thaddeus Stevens 52-0, Millersville 35-15, Shippensburg 20-15, and West Chester 25-18. (Note: The match against West Chester is not recorded in the team record.)
Sitting on 299 career triumphs, Kessler and the Spartans headed into their match against Shippensburg, a squad which has proven tough over the past seasons, looking to grab number 300. Joey Giaccio, started York off with a 7-2 decision at 125. After a stumble at 133, #2 Chris Albright collected bonus points as he secured a 20-4 technical fall victory at 141. The Crusaders fought back however, grabbing a with wins at 149, 157, and 165. Senior captain Matt Heisey returned the Green and White to the win column as he won at 174 only to have Shippensburg come right back with a triumph at 184. With the tally sitting at 15-11 Shippensburg, the Crusaders forfeited at 197, giving the York the 17-15 lead and setting up a tremendous match for senior George Saliba to put an exciting cap on Kessler's 300th.
In a tight 285-pound bout, Saliba and Dan Estricher were knotted in a nip-and-tuck duel. With less than a minute remaining, Estricher looked like he might score however points were not awarded and the match spilled into overtime tied at 2-2. In sudden victory, the Spartan senior captain went for a shot right away, forcing Estricher to his back. However, the match was not yet complete at Estricher hung on as to not allow Saliba complete control. According to Millersville's Ethan Husley, "each looked like he was going to gain position at one point or another." Finishing the match, Saliba proved the victor as he recorded a takedown for an exhilarating finale to Kessler's 300th.
"What a win for George winning in overtime," Kessler said via text message. "Crazy match, one I'll never forget."
Kessler, the winningest coach in the history of York College (Pa.) wrestling now stands at 300-132-3 for his career. Currently in his 20th season at the helm, Kessler sports a tremendous .691 winning percentage. During his tenure, he has had the Spartans ranked as high as fifth in the national poll. Kessler has coached one two-time national champion, 13 Spartans who have garnered 15 All-American honors, and 16 wrestlers who have captured 24 NWCA Scholar All-American accolades.
The Spartans posted a clean 52-0 win over Thaddeus Stevens, a match including four forfeits. Giaccio and 157-pound Drew Spector each won by tech falls while Landry Badman (141) and Michael Monarque (149) collected pinfall triumphs. Kyle Minogue (197) and Saliba won by decision to finish the sweep.
Taking on Division I Millersville, York led 20-9 following four bonus point victories by Giaccio (125 – forfeit), Albright (141 – tech fall), Gugliotti (149 – tech fall), and Spector (157 – major). At 174 pounds, Heisey added six more points to the York ledger with a 4:42 pinfall while Minogue posted a pin of his own at 197 pounds in just 1:17. Saliba closed out the victory with a tight 2-1 victory at 285.
Against West Chester, a number of Spartans were able to garner mat time. At 133 pounds, Chuck Glatz garnered a 4-0 decision while Monarque nabbed a major decision at 149. T.J. Demetrio's performance at 157 netted him a six-point pinfall at 2:02 before Jake Siegfried's efforts allowed him to pick up a 3-2 victory at 165. Jeffrey Goldhagen (174 – forfeit) and Matt Zippilli (184 – decision) also collected wins for York.
For the season, Saliba now sits at a Spartan-best 29-3 while Minogue is close behind at 25-7. Gugliotti has secured 24 triumphs and sports a 24-10 record. Senior Heisey and freshman Giaccio sport 22-7 and 22-5 marks, respectively, while Albright owns a 17-1 record.
The Green and White now turn their collective attention to a series of regular-season ending home matches. York's string of three consecutive home dates begins on Saturday, February 4, when they host #21 Elizabethtown, Hunter, and #30 TCNJ in a quad meet at the Grumbacher Sport & Fitness Center. The first matches are slated to begin at 12:00 pm.
PHOTO: Spartan head coach Tom Kessler looks on during York's recent triumph over King's College. Courtesy of Scott Guise - York College (Pa.) Director of Athletic Communications.