What a Year to be a Hershey Trojan Wrestler


Sophomore Joshua Chancey takes a ready stance during the Sectional Tournament on February 20,2016. Chancey lost with a pin at 1 minute, 37 seconds. (Broadcaster/Williams)

By: Kaylee Williams

The blue and orange mat was empty. The referee stepped to the center of the circle and motioned to each team. The Trojans lined up and started the slow clap.

It was his time.

Senior Josh Warren had not started in previous years, but this was his year. 2-3 to start his senior season was not seen often in a senior, but the team knew Warren wouldn’t disappoint.

Tonight was his chance.

Warren was facing off in the 285 lbs category against a wrestler who had a record of 13 wins and 14 losses the previous year. Warren’s opponent came out onto the mat with a stare on his face. He clearly meant all business.

The opponents took their stances in the center of the mat while the loud screech of the whistle echoed throughout. The wrestlers tie up and the first match of the night is underway.

Warren gots his hold and squeezed tighter and tighter. Warren knew at that point that he had the upper hand in the match. Thoughts began running crazily through his head.

He flipped his opponent around and onto the ground and scored the first 2 points of the match. As soon as Warren got his opponent on his back, he knew that it was just a matter of time until his opponent would give up.

Warren squeezed and squeezed. The intensity in his eyes grew deeper. The other Trojans on the sideline were screaming as loud as they can as if they are a pack of wolfs.

“SQUEEZE!” the Trojan wrestlers howled.

The referee slid down onto the mat beside the two wrestlers, threw his hand up, and slammed his hand down onto the mat making a loud thud.

Warren had ended the match with a pin in 3 minutes and 49 seconds, putting the first 6 points up on the board for HHS.

The referee grabbed Warren’s arm and raised it high towards the home section.

The crowd went wild. “Way to go Josh,” echoed throughout the section.

Warren ran over to his side of the mat, high fiving teammates continuously until he’s made it to everyone.

The energy in the gym had become completely different.

The team made a tunnel surrounding the next wrestler to go out under the spotlight. Warren starts the slow clap, spreading contagiously throughout the team into the crowd. The next wrestler ran through the tunnel, gives two big high fives to Warren, and the next match of the night is underway.

With Warren’s win, the tone was set for the season. The wrestlers had a new bounce in their step, a new focus in practice, a new direction, and a new shot of confidence.

Or so it seemed.

HHS senior Josh Warren wrestles Cedar Cliff’s Sergio Acala on February 28, 2016. Warren flipped Acala onto his back and won with a pin 3 minutes, 36 seconds in the match. (Broadcaster/Williams)

Senior, Kellen Banning, started the season with high expectations. His goal for the season was not simply a winning record, but to make it at least to the sectional tournament leading into districts. Since his seasons in the past had ended in injuries, Banning was not going to let a concussions, 2 broken arms, and broken fingers stop him from doing what he loved: being out under the spotlight on the mat.

Banning loved wrestling from a young age. Starting at the age of 9 and continuing it the whole way up to his senior year, wrestling was more than how many pins he could get or how many matches he could win. To him, it was the passion he had for the sport.

“The strong work ethic and mental toughness that wrestling gave me is something that I’ll keep with me forever,” said Banning. “Wrestling is an incredibly difficult sport so it created a desire to always improve and to always push myself past my limits.”

Banning’s season started out impeccably.

In the first match of the season, the orange and blue Trojans prepared to go against the blue and white Falcons from Lower Dauphin: their biggest rival.

Doubts already ran through the wrestlers minds but not Bannings. He knew that his team could fight back even harder.

The night had gone on and the Trojans were falling behind and quickly losing hope.

It was Banning’s turn to go out onto the mat.

54 seconds later, he had not only his first win of the season but his first pin of the season.

HHS senior Kellen Bannin wrestles Lower Dauphin’s David DeNotaris on December 10, 2015. Banning pinned DeNotaris in 54 seconds earning his first pin of the season. (Broadcaster/Williams)

A week later, the HHS Trojans went on to wrestle another tough contender: Big Springs. That night, Banning came out onto the mat and with the blow of the whistle he was ready to go head to head against his opponent.

A minute into the match, Banning lifted his opponent and slammed him back onto the mat gaining 2 points for his score.

Banning won this match 5-2.

However, the outcome for the Trojans overall did not turn out as successful. HHS lost to Big Springs, 24-47.

Almost two weeks after the Trojans lost to Big Springs, the HHS wrestling team traveled to Governor Mifflin for their holiday tournament.

The place where Banning would wrestle his very last match of his wrestling career.

Banning was his third match into the day and was going against Governor Mifflin’s 152 pounder, someone Banning knew he could beat.

Both guys took the mat and the match was under way.

Banning came out on fire while going in for a shot on his opponent.

However, the shot that would normally lead Banning to a win, ended in something that no one saw coming.

As Banning swooped under his opponent, both of their heads smashed together causing an effect on Banning that everyone watching the match could see.

Both wrestlers went down, and Banning’s opponent swung his finger in a circular motion signaling the ref to begin injury time.

Banning continued to try and get his eyes to refocus as he tried to continue and wrestle through the pain.

“I started to get a horrible headache,” said Banning, “but I wanted to continue on, so I wrestled through it.”

Even though Banning thought it was something he could just wrestle through, he took another hard blow to the head, causing him to blackout.

Banning knew there was something seriously wrong.

Days later his doctors told Banning the news that he had been dreading to hear.

He would never be able to wrestle again.

“I never got to fully finish a season because each year it ended in injury,” said Banning. “Usually I knew I would be able to come back next year and now I don’t. Now I’m done.”

With Banning being finished for the season, it did not only take a big toll on him, but the entire team as well.

“He was supposed to go so far,” said junior Aidan Donahue, “So when we found out that one of the strong competitors on the team was gone, it hit hard.”

However, even though Banning had to hang up his wrestling shoes, it didn’t stop him from being a captain off the mats.

After his injuries, Banning was still at every practice, every match, and every tournament, and continued to bring good vibes to the team and help the team grow any way he could.

Even though Hershey suffered some hardships during the season, the team continued to fight on and push forward making the best of the cards they were dealt.

As the Trojans continued to fight and pull through the season, senior captain J’Michael Wedderburn took the lead and was ready to fight as hard as he could to reach his goal.

“I’m going to make it to the state tournament,” said Wedderburn.

The state tournament was on March 11, 2016 and is held every year right in the Trojans back yard at the Giant Center.

The best of the best wrestlers in PA go to states hoping to leave with a medal.

Looking at Wedderburn’s freshman year most never would’ve guessed that the 3-2 freshman would grow to be a 26-11 senior.

With a 2nd place medal from districts, Wedderburn also went on to wrestle in the state tournament.

However, this just wasn’t something that came easy to Wedderburn.

“I was in the mat room all the time over the summer, and I was continuously lifting and doing anything I could do to ensure myself of improving,” said Wedderburn.

The hard work from the practice partners, the weekend tournaments, and the countless hours spent in the mat room was what lead Wedderburn to where he was that day.

Wedderburn started his off season on what the wrestlers like to call the “Road to Hershey.” Starting at Central Dauphin East, Wedderburn wrestled for a spot in the district tournament.

The Road to Hershey is what every wrestler hopes leads them to a spot in the state tournament at the GIANT Center.

On February 20, 2016 wrestling took place all day in the gym of CD East.

Wedderburn took on the 220 lb weight class, going against three opponents throughout the day.

He ended the night 2-1 and earned himself a second place sectional medal and a spot in the district tournament.

Wedderburn moved on to the Old Arena in Hershey as he prepared himself to wrestle his way into states.

On February 26, 2016, the first day of Districts, Wedderburn faced 2 opponents defeating both.

In the first match of the day, Wedderburn won with a 7-5 decision against Dover High School’s 220 pounder Austin Richcreek.

With the first match being a success, it fired up Wedderburn to come out strong against his next opponent, Jesse Enck from Daniel Boone High, an opponent that was expected to give Wedderburn a run for his money.

The whistle blew indicating the start of the match and 1 minute and 5 seconds later Wedderburn had pinned his opponent who entered the tournament 31-2 and was ranked as a No.2 seed.


HHS senior J’Michael Wedderburn wrestles Daniel Boone’s Jesse Enck on February 26, 2016 during the district tournament. Wedderburn pinned Enck who was ranked as a second seed at 1 minute, 5 seconds into the match. (Broadcaster/Williams)

With such a huge victory under Wedderburn’s belt, he was ready for day two.

February 27, 2016 (the second day of districts) Wedderburn wrestled against Cocalico Highs’ Benjamin Fromm, beating him out with a 6-4 decision.

The last match of the night would determine Wedderburn’s placing. He was against Shippensburg High Schools’ Cameron Tinner.

Although Wedderburn put up as hard as a fight as he could, he unfortunately fell to Tinner with a Major Decision of 2-10.

Even after that, Wedderburn managed to walk away as a second place district winner. Better yet, he landed a spot in the state tournament.

Wedderburn was the first person to go to states from HHS in the last 9 years.

“The feeling of knowing that I’d be going to states was so surreal,” said Wedderburn. “To say the least I couldn’t process the feeling at first.”

On March 10, 2016, the best of the best of Pennsylvania wrestlers met at the GIANT Center arena with hopes of walking away with a medal.

Wedderburn was one of them.

As the wrestlers began taking the many mats that were set up around the arena, Wedderburn began to keep his deep concentration on the task at hand.

It was his turn to take the mat.

Wedderburn needed one win in order to move onto the next day and that’s exactly what he did.

Wrestling, Kade LaMarre, from Conestoga High school, Wedderburn fought hard throughout the match with a crowd of HHS supports cheering him on from the stands.

The loud echo of the buzzer rang through the arena at the end of the third period.

Wedderburn defeated LaMarre 9-5 and claimed his spot in the second day of the state tournament.

The start of day two started with Wedderburn going head to head against Derek Berberick from Greensburg Salem High.

Even though Wedderburn gave as much fight as he could, Wedderburn fell to Berberick 8-6.

With Wedderburn losing, this meant he would need to win the rest of the matches he had left in his high school career in order to place and take home a medal.

Later in the evening, the last match of Wedderburn’s high school career was under way.

Throughout the three, two minute periods, Wedderburn was not giving up and tied the match 7-7 against Quakertown Highs Gavin Caroff.

With the third period ending in a tie, a one-minute sudden victory period occurs. Both wrestlers start in the neutral position.

The first wrestler to score a point wins.

Wedderburn, ready to end the long awaited match, goes in for a takedown and what to the crowd of hershey supporters looked like a take down.

Despite what the team saw and wanted to see, the referee called the two wrestlers out of bounds, meaning there was no takedown for Wedderburn.

Both wrestlers take it back to the middle of the mat, and the match continued.

As the wrestlers tie up, Wedderburn slips and Caroff takes him down to the mat.

The moment that everyone was dreading happened.

Wedderburn would not continue to the third day, and his high school career as a wrestler had come to an end.

“The support during states was great,” said Wedderburn, “But after the overwhelming state of wrestling on a big stage was gone, it was just another match.”

Even though Wedderburn’s run at states was cut shorter than hoped, he still made the HHS community proud with his hard work and dedication during states.

Although not every wrestler made it out of sectionals, every wrestler contributed something great to the team.

With the season coming to an end, the wrestlers got to reflect on the season during the annual end of the season wrestling banquet.

At the beginning of the season the team went from not working as a unit to a close knit team.

The Trojans began working together on and off the mat and created a bond that will never be forgotten.

Wedderburn said it best, “It was a great year to be an HHS Trojan Wrestler.”