Elizabethtown Wrestling History
In 1959 Charles Jackson and Dean Kreamer, both mathematics teachers at Elizabethtown High School, formulated a wrestling team for the local high school. Both were former Lock Haven University wrestlers. They had eight wrestlers on that first team. A six-match exhibition schedule against some local teams was worked out and wrestling began at Elizabethtown.
The 1960-1961 season was the first official season of competition for the Bears. There was no Junior High team so everyone in grades 7-12 practiced together. The only requirement was to have the courage and grit that all wrestlers have, and the ability to put up with Coaches Jackson and Kreamer. Coaches Jackson and Kreamer were co-coaches for the first three years. Coach Jackson then took the title of head coach and Coach Kreamer became the assistant.
The Bears struggled early, going 0-12 that first year and 2-10 in 1961-62. But through strong coaching and a great deal of hard work they had their first winning season in 1962-63. Rhine Stone was a bright spot those early years and he became the school's first sectional champion in 1962 in the 165 lb. class. Over the course of the next three years the Bears really started to flex their muscles, going 34-7-1, including back to back 12-2 seasons. The 1963-64 team might well have been the strongest in the schools history. Six wrestlers on that squad won sectional championships (George Brinser, Ken Bathhurst, Phil Olweiler, Earl Brinser, Gary Shank, and Bob Johnson).
Coach Jackson crowned a District III champion in each of the next three years, John Miller in '65, Rick Wilson in '66, and John Miller again in '67. Miller also won regionals and qualified for the state tournament losing in the semi-finals. The team suffered a setback when the Olmstead Air Force Base moved taking half of the returning starters. Charlie Jackson remained as varsity coach through the 1969-70 season. During his tenure, he coached 16 sectional champions and 3 district champions. He then turned the reins over to Gary Holtzman and Charlie Jackson become the Junior High coach for the next three years.
Gary Holtzman struggled through two losing seasons before putting together impressive back to back 12-2 years followed by a 10-4 season. Coach Holtzman was the head coach from 1970-71 through 1975-76. He coached six sectional champions and 3 District III champions (Dan Baum '74, Dan Pfaultz '76, and Ken Espenshade '76). In 1976 Dan Pfautz became our first state place winner finishing as runner-up in the 185 lb. weight class.
In 1976 Bill Luckenbaugh became Elizabethtown's third head coach. He guided the team to 76 wins in his 6-year tenure including a sectional championship. Coach Luckenbaugh coached 7 sectional champions and 2 District III champions (John Risser '79, and Sam Rodriquez '82). Jon Risser went on to place 4th in the state tournament. Elizabethtown wrestling experienced a second (see Olmstead moving) setback during this time when the school district decided to eliminate Junior High sports for a couple of years. This left subsequent varsity teams with a lack of knowledge and experience.
Jude Bervinchak came to coach Elizabethtown for one year and led the Bears to a 13-5 record in 1982-83. Keith Thomas won sectional and district titles and went on to finish 3rd in the state, our third state place winner.
Mike Sernoffsky became he fifth head coach replacing Coach Bervinchak for the 1983-84 season. That year Dennis Rosenberry became the second Elizabethtown wrestler to reach the state finals finishing second at 185 lbs. Coach Sernoffsky led the team to 19 winning seasons including five sectional championships. He has also coached 28 sectional champions, 6 district champions (Tom Miller '86 & '87, Jon Givens '92, Sean Cummings '92, Kirk Leib '96, and Luke Stauffer '01), 25 state qualifiers and 10 state medalists. During this time Tom Miller became our first State Champion in 1987.
Steve Bass took over as head coach for the 2014-15 season.
Troy Hoffman was the head coach for the next two years and led the team to a 24-13 record. Both Bass and Hoffman served previously as successful junior high coaches in the program. Mike Sernoffsky returned as head coach in 2018-19.
The Elizabethtown wrestling team has an overall record of 500-400-10. The Bears have won tournaments in Carlisle, Paoli, Iroquois (NY), and Donegal. The team has won 6 sectional titles and tied for another. There have been 7 head coaches and at least 34 assistant coaches at the high school and Junior high levels. The team has definitely grown and flourished since it was founded in 1959.
The Elizabethtown wrestling program has had well over 650 different young men participate as members of the team since it started. Some of these wrestlers had very successful high school careers, some wrestled in college (at least 3 became collegiate All-Americans) During the 2019-20 season, the program recorded it’s 500th dual meet victory. The school has had 56 sectional champions, 15 district champions, 37 state qualifiers, 14 state medalists and a state champion. Some of our alumni have gone on to become doctors, teachers, businessmen, accountants, and owners of their own businesses. Some have served in our armed forces, some stayed involved in wrestling through coaching and officiating. Many have sons who have wrestled in the program. The program as a whole as well as the individuals involved has had its share of highlights and low points, but everyone who has participated has grown from the experience and is a part of our tradition.
1961-62 1st win
1967-68 50th win
1974-75 100th win
1979-80 150th win
1982-83 200th win
1989-90 250th win
1995-96 300th win
2000-01 350th win
2008-09 400th win
2011-12 450th win
2019-20 500th win