What a difference one year has made for The Hill wrestling program. In 2019, a young, rebuilding program finished in 10th place with 76 points at the Pennsylvania Independent School Wrestling Tournament (PAISWT) and qualified four wrestlers for the National Prep tournament.
At the conclusion of the first day of the 2020 PAISWT, Hill had already accumulated more points than the team did in the entire 2019 tournament. When the final bout concluded, Hill had earned a fourth-place finish with 142.5 points, the team’s highest point total at the event in five years, and 11 Hill wrestlers made the podium by virtue of a top-eight finish.
Of those 11 place winners, eight finished in the top-six of his respective weight class to earn an automatic bid to the National Prep tournament, which begins on Friday, February 21 at Lehigh University’s Stabler Arena. Seven of the eight team members will compete at Nationals.
From his first day as head coach, Dave Hoffman ’01 preached patience while assuring that his goal is to return the program the heights of success known by many generations of Hill Wrestling alumni. The team’s improvement from Hoffman’s first year to second year is a good sign of the team’s ascension. Hill fared particularly well in the lower weight classes, beginning with a third-place finish from Kade Davidheiser ’23 at 106. Fellow third former Joey Asterino finished fourth at 120, and at 126 Kelvin Griffin ’22 was Hill’s lone finalist. Griffin fell to Wyoming Seminary’s Nic Bouzakis, who is ranked first in the country in several polls. Ethan Kreuzberg ’21, making his season debut after recovering from injury, secured a sixth-place finish at 132, and Sam Beckett ’22 placed fourth at 145, his first competition at 145 after wrestling at 138 for most of the season. Michael Stevens ’20 also moved up a class to 160 and finished fifth, and Derek Schmaeling ’21 placed sixth at 195.
Those seven will compete at National Preps. Davidheiser, Griffin, and Beckett are ranked in the top-10 of their respective weight classes in the February 13 National Prep poll and Schmaeling is ranked 11th. The action begins at 9 AM – visit the National Prep Wrestling website for complete tournament information.
While they did not qualify for Nationals, three team members made the podium at PAISWT by finishing seventh or eighth: Gernard Finney ’20 placed eighth at 182, Will Henriksen ’20 came in seventh at 220, and heavyweight Luke Cawley ’22 placed eighth.