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1978 - A New Era

A late start with new leadership but achieving the same results

as the Raiders take 2nd in the state.

The departure of Neal Lineman meant the ’78 Raiders needed a new skipper. The team returned with lots of talent, including six returning section champs and a district champ. But change is always partnered with uncertainty.

The 1978 coaching staff: Bob Moats, Mark Reichard & Ed McClimans

This episode of the Raider Teams of the 70’s series first combines the recollections of Mark Reichard and Kevin Klasic followed by a tribute from Dan Hills.

The fallout of the 1976 teacher strikes continued after the past two years. It took until October of that year before the school board hired Mark Reichard as the third-ever Reynolds coach. The late date of the hiring meant that there were no off-season preparations or contact with the wrestlers. And badly needed new uniforms had not yet been ordered within weeks of the first match!

Many wrestlers were not aware that Coach Lineman was retiring and felt angst over coming change to the program. As one of the earliest RHS graduates and more recently, an assistant coach for a few years, Mark was very familiar with the system and wrestlers were familiar with him. Regardless, there was a bit of angst with the wrestlers to have a new boss in the room.

With no time for a honeymoon between the coach and team, Mark Reichard and his talented team managed to gel into a formidable team, earning a very good 12-1 record and their 8th straight section championship (details with names are below). Perhaps their biggest disappointment was seeing the end of an 86-match win-streak.

Following a very similar theme, Dan Hills adds, “A huge void was left when legendary coach and the rock upon which Reynolds wrestling was built, Neal Lineman, left the program. I'm sure many were wondering if we could continue with the great expectations of the past teams. But, inside the wrestling room, we knew that Reynold wrestling product, Coach Reichard had the right stuff to continue our great success.

We had an outstanding core of seniors to lead our team through this transition, and we were not about to allow any let up in the tradition. A great group of underclassmen followed our lead. Even when we might fall behind in some matches, we were supremely confident that we would come out ahead. We ended up with an outstanding record of 12 -1.

It should also be mentioned that so many of us were good friends on and off the mats. We always lifted each other up, and it was an honor to go to battle with those guys.”

How well did the '78 Raiders do? The 1978 schedule was tougher than the previous few years. More county teams (than just Greenville) were getting better and Erie Tech was added to the lineup, too. Between Tech & Erie Prep (by the way, Reynolds beat both), Raider wrestlers met 6 eventual NCAA Division I wrestlers including two future HS State and NCAA champs.

As noted, we won Sections again by crowning eight individual champs in Tom Anthony, Dennis Gibb, Bill Arbanas, Tim Morrison, Bob Esmond, Phil Lenkner, Keith Dawes and Kevin Klasic. Progressing up the tournament trail, Bill Arbanas captured golds at districts and regions before earning a 3rd place at states.

Additionally, Dennis Gibb also won a 3rd place state medal and Tim Morrison matched his big bro’s performance by reaching the state finals to finish with a 2nd place medal in Hershey. Tim went on to become the 2nd Reynolds wrestler to become an NCAA Division I All-American by winning a 5th place trophy for Rider University.

The three individual medals earned enough points for the Raiders win 2nd place as a team in the states! Thus, the transition to a new era in Reynolds Wrestling history showed that we had the staying power to remain at the elite level in Pennsylvania.

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