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Raiders are finally “Seen” in 1974

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

I’m not sure I can say the 1974 team was the best of the 70’s, but I think you would be hard pressed to argue there were any teams better." - Ed Derrick

Lot's of Seniors and starting in 1974, we have Mat Maids!

When a sport doesn't have ultimate competitions to determine a champion, a void to choose the champ is left to public opinion, whether that judge & jury is the press or just any person on the street with an opinion A good example is NCAA football before their playoff system was implemented (and in my thinking, that system is still lacking).

Newcomers to the big show are required to have an overkill of success to convince the established public arbitrators for consideration – this was especially true during the pre-internet days when news had, at best, a 24-hour turn-around (unlike the millisecond response of today’s world).

And so it was for Reynolds wrestling through the 60’s and early 70’s. Finally in 1974, after several undefeated teams and section championships with some individuals going far into the post season tournaments, an independent ranking group declared the Raiders in the top tier of state teams.

Note a lot is said below about the Greenville match. Many familiar with the rivalry from both schools believe that was the most talent laden regular dual meet between the schools. Ever. When the venue was moved to Westminster College to accommodate almost 4000 fans, the match’s image and legend soared.

For most of the rest of this article, the major contributions come from a pair of seniors from that team (with my added notes). First, Ed Derrick (from whom the lead at the top came), followed by additional reflections from Dale Hills. Ed, take it away...

"The 1974 team outscored their opponents 693-91 (that’s an average match score of 49 ½ - 6 ½!) . In addition, we had 4 shutouts (and 5 more with just one wrestler losing) . We also won the prestigious Williamsport Top Hat Tournament.

Varsity - From Crest Yearbook

Let me further my case by looking at the starting lineup against Greenville that year (The rumble at Westminster College). In the lineup that night were these wrestlers followed by the mark they made in the post season tournaments at some point during their careers:

  • One - State Champ- Dave Anthony

  • Three - State Runners-up – Brian Hills, Mark Bartolo & Dan Morrison

  • Two – Third place State Winners -Brian Holzshu & Dave Kress

  • One – Regional Champ and State Quarter-finalist – Bill McNeish

That’s 7 of the 12 starters, who also had many Section, District, and Regional Titles. The other 5 starters in that match had 5 section titles between them.

In addition to these 12, the following guys were very talented young wrestlers that wrestled only a few varsity matches because the eliminations were highly competitive, to say the least.

  • Jeff Shipton – State Champ

  • Matt Smargiasso – State Champ and 3rd at States

  • Jerry Diehl – 3-time District Champ

JV team - From Crest Yearbook

In addition, the 1974 team went undefeated and continued another string of wins (on the mats) that was carried on by some of these underclassmen. That string began on January 13, 1972, and continued until February 2, 1978.

Various from Crest Yearbook.

Select from bottom thumbnails & click/tap to zoom top panel

Although I bow to my older and wiser, elder classmates regarding the 1971 and 1972 teams, I respectively submit the 1974 squad was a bunch of bad boys (Amen! But Ed, that hurts 😉, but I’ll latch onto the wiser adjective. To be fair, I didn’t claim ’72 as one of our top teams).”

Dale pretty much concurred with Ed’s synopsis but added more detail about the rankings (stated at the top) and that the Greenville match attracted a visit by National Hall of Fame Coach Bob Bubb from Clarion State College. (In fact, a few of us Clarion wrestlers joined Coach Bubb at that including the Hall of Famer, Wondrous Wade Schalles. They were simply taken back at the size of the crowd in attendance and the intensity of the match. While going into the arena, one of my college teammates asked me how many other schools were competing that night since two schools just couldn’t attract that many people. All of you know that answer.)

Oh yeah, and by the way… The team advanced every wrestler to districts, 9 to regions and 5 to states. Impressive numbers in any era.

Greenville match newspaper pics provided by Kyle Benton, '74.

Select from bottom thumbnails & click/tap to zoom top panel

Well said, gentlemen. So, I must agree with Ed and Dale, the 74 team belongs in that same conversation as one of the great ones.

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