More Than Four. The Stories of Red Land Athletics. '89 Red Land Cedar Cliff Wrestling Match

’89 Red Land Cedar Cliff Wrestling match

Anticipation and competition are a combustible combination. Pick up games can't rival the pressure that scheduled events do. The pressure is born from the anticipation, the buildup, the hype. And so, it was as the Red Land, Cedar Cliff wrestling match approached. Red Land had yet to taste victory over the Colts. But 1989 had the chance to be different. The folks from Lewisberry believed they had the roster and the experience to finally take down the mighty Colts. January 21, 1989 was one of those circle the calendar events. People knew it was coming. The excitement and anticipation were palpable.


"The cars were parked along Fishing Creek Rd. That should tell you about the size of the crowd."

- Roy Willoughby


In researching this story, I called up long time Patriot News writer Rod Frisco. I asked him what he remembered and he said "Kyle, if you can give me an exact date, I'll go and look the match up from the archives. When you've done it as long as me, they all run together." I offered up Jan. 21, 1989. He called back and said..."Oh yeah, the Tamanosky match. How could I forget?"


"Ricky Tamanosky is the story. The rest of us played our role but if you're telling the '89 story, you have to begin with Ricky."

- Brian Willoughby


What Rod Frisco and Brian Willoughby were referring to was a match that ended in a fall at the 5:59 mark. The noise in the gym was deafening. With approximately 15 seconds remaining and trailing 4-3, Tamanosky found himself in the bottom position.


"I actually felt comfortable down there. I thought I could escape."

- Rick Tamanosky


But history shows he got more than an escape. He got a reversal and a pin.


"Yeah, we were looking at the clock and the mat. Anytime you take someone to their back you want the fall. We just didn't know if he was going to have enough time. Junkins (the official) wasn't going to just give it to him. He was going to have to prove it."

-Roy Willoughby


With one second remaining, Ricky proved it. He got the fall, the 6 team points, and secured himself in Red Land lore with what to this day is the loudest noise I've ever heard inside a Red Land gymnasium.


"I would have done the same thing as Bob (longtime legendary Cedar Cliff coach Bob Craig) did. It was absolutely close. The fall and the horn occurred simultaneously. Those additional 3 points were huge at the time."

- Red Land Head Coach Craig Helmuth


What Bob Craig did was walk across the mat at the end of the match questioning the fall. Time had run out and Coach Craig was sure of it. After some debate, the call would stand and Red Land held a 21-13 advantage with 5 matches remaining.


Wrestlers are special people. I'm convinced of it. Not because what they do requires more skill than other sports. Because what they do requires more nerve than other sports. They take center stage in a physical confrontation for everyone to witness. At the high school level, wrestling stands alone in physical acts of courage. When I talk with someone that declares themselves a "wrestler" I immediately grant them some level of respect and admiration. Besides the grueling physical demands, the emotional toll it must take might be even more extraordinary. They have a warrior spirit.


And so with 5 matches to go, these warriors from both schools would exchange wins and losses. It was an epic rollercoaster ride all the way to heavyweight.


And that's when Senior Rob Brenner would etch his own memory into the Red Land landscape.


"We were scared he was going to slam him to the ground. It was as simple as that. Rob was a pretty aggressive kid and there was really no telling how that could have played out."

- Craig Helmuth


"You don't see people get a cradle in a standing position. Rob cradled him on his feet and we were worried he was going to get an unsportsmanlike taking him to the mat."

- Roy Willoughby


Rob Brenner avoided all such shenanigans. The subsequent fall and 6 team points secured Red Land their first victory over Cedar Cliff.


Those in attendance witnessed some incredible High School wrestling. Telling the '89 story would be incomplete without deference to the Cedar Cliff Colts wrestling program and longtime coach Bob Craig. Beating Cedar Cliff was more than beating the 13 wrestlers in uniform. Beating Cedar Cliff was beating a program steeped in tradition. The pride Red Land felt that night was also the pride in knowing they had earned Cedar Cliff's respect.


"The one thing that most people don't understand is wrestling isn't like other sports. We'd go wrestle at Cedar Cliff to prepare for sectionals, districts and states. Of course we wanted to beat them and vice versa but after the match Bob congratulated me and told me that if it was going to happen I'm glad it was you."

- Craig Helmuth


Maybe that's what the warrior spirit is? A sense of pride and respect for committing to the sport itself.


I for one was grateful that Red Land and Cedar Cliff graced all of us that evening with an event of such magnitude. It was one for the ages.


Red Land 34 Cedar Cliff 25

103: Scott Baker

112: Scott Willoughby

119: Bill Rocuskie

125: Jeff Zeigler

130: Brian Willoughby

135: Tom Abraham

140: Steve Loss

145: Rick Tamanosky

152: Darren Bonson

160: Don Fox

171: Phil Seele

189: Troy Fuhrman

275: Rob Brenner


Other notes and quotes:


The Tamanosky story has more intrigue to it. Ricky wrestled for Cedar Cliff the 3 seasons prior to attending Red Land. His battles in the wrestling room and the relationships he formed forged a great respect for the Cedar Cliff wrestling program. Rick Tamanosky is currently the Head Wrestling Coach at Cedar Cliff High School.


"There wasn't any animosity on the mat that night between me and the Cedar Cliff guys. I honestly think Coach Craig and the guys wanted what was best for me. Wrestling at Red Land my Senior year was what was best for me."

- Rick Tamanosky


"The '89 match was a pre-cursor for how high school wrestling is done today. We weren't really sure who Cedar Cliff was going to send out to wrestle Ricky. There's a lot more mixing and matching wrestlers nowadays to try and win dual meets."

- Craig Helmuth


"Rob Brenner played basketball prior to wrestling. His Sophomore year he won about 5 matches. His Junior year about 15. He won 30 matches his Sr. year."

-Brian Willoughby


The '89 team featured 6 sectional champions: Scott Willoughby, Brian Willoughby, Rick Tamanosky, Darren Bonson, Don Fox and Rob Brenner


In researching this story, it wasn't all fond memories. The '89 team lost the district championship by a half point to Lancaster McCaskey. There were some obvious "what ifs" held by coaches and players alike.


"You'd think after a match of this magnitude there might be an issue with the handshake line. There was nothing from either team. Just mutual respect."

- Craig Helmuth

Search Schools

Find a school channel on the Fusfoo high school digital network.

Log In / Sign Up

Join the Fusfoo high school digital network now to follow all of your favorite channels and creators.