West York Wrestling




Wilmer Pressel

▪ West York Coach - Wilmer Pressel (right) w/Ryan Randolph.
York Wrestling's
Wilmer Pressel '85

West York's PIAA State Qualifiers

'85 PIAA State Medalist

w/Don Lehman 
(2009 Interview)

West York's Wilmer Pressel
  1985 District III South Central Regional AAA Championships... Wilmer Pressel - 2nd Place.
  1985 PIAA State AAA Wrestling Championships... Wilmer Pressel - 6th Place @ 185lbs.
  1985 PIAA 5th/6th AAA - Kevin Benton (Easton) dec. Wilmer Pressel (West York) 15-3.
  AAA PIAA State Wrestling Results 1974-2010 - PIAA Finals '74-'10 A/AAA.
  2-time West York Wrestling Outstanding Wrestler Award - '84 & '85.

  West York Wrestling's Wilmer Pressel... graduated in 1985.  Wilmer finished his wrestling career with a record of 64-32-1.  Wilmer's senior year record of 29-8 (in the 1984-85 season) included seven losses to PIAA Top 5 State place-winners!  Another loss in Wilmer's WY career was to the nation's top-ranked 167lb. wrestler, John Heffernan of St. Edwards, Ohio in the prestigious Top Hat Wrestling Tournament!  Heffernan went on to be a NCAA All-American at Iowa.  Wilmer attended wrestling camps at both Millersville and Lock Haven Universities.  Wilmer's high school tournament finishes include a 4th at the 1983 Top Hat (Williamsport) Tourney, a 4th in the 1984 AAA Sectionals, a 2nd in the 1984 Top Hat Tourney, a 2nd in the 1985 AAA Sectionals, a 2nd in the 1985 DIII AAA South Central Regionals, and a 6th at the 1985 PIAA AAA State Tourney.  Wilmer won many summer tournaments... including the West York Wrestling Booster High School/College Open Tournament, twice.

  Wilmer is married to a wonderful and lovely woman - Billie Jo, (11 years) and they have three children - Darren Gross, David Pressel and Harley Pressel (ages 15, 11 and 9).  Wilmer and Billie Jo are presently fostering another young man - Ta'Shon Jiles, who is trying wrestling for the first time as a senior at West York.  Wilmer's family is his true inspiration!

  Wilmer has coached soccer for ten years and wrestling the last two.  All his boys play soccer and baseball, as well as competing in wrestling.  Wilmer likes to be involved with their activities.  Darren posted an 8-12 record last year in Junior High Wrestling and David was 7-2 in Elementary Wrestling.  Ta'Shon will try our for the 189lb. senior high slot, and - like Wilmer growing up, battles some physical challenges.  Wilmer knows that wrestling will make a big difference in each of his boys lives - both physically and mentally.  Billie Jo is also a STRONG supporter of the families sports activities!  Wilmer spends a lot of time coaching, so Billie Jo is extremely patient and takes care of everything at home!  Daughter Harley plays soccer and is also a baton twirler... a sport that takes a lot of time and commitment!  Harley competes at both the state and national levels and has been twirling since she was three years old.  Wilmer "lives" to see his kids grow in their sports and school, and loves helping them out in any way!  Wilmer tells his kids - "It doesn't matter how many you win or lose, but if you put your heart into it, you will be better at the end of the competition!"

WY Coach Wilmer Pressel
photo by Kevin Drawbaugh of JK Images

  Wilmer Pressel has been in the flooring business for 25 years, 12 years as an independent installer (his own business) and he also mastered interior renovations, dry-walling, painting, build-outs and more.  Presently, Wilmer works as a Labor Manager for Inside Edge of Minnesota.  Accounts include Best Buy, Kohl's, Michael's, Sleepy's, Sears/K-Mart and about 88 more businesses!  Wilmer works from his home office... which gives him a little time to help out with soccer and wrestling coaching duties.

 ▪ Don Lehman, owner and webmaster of westyorkwrestlingalumni.com caught up with Wilmer and asked if he would do a Q & A... and he graciously agreed.

Don Lehman
Don Lehman
Webmaster, Archivist & Owner of westyorkwrestlingalumni.com

DL - Wilmer, it will be almost 25 years since you finished 2nd to Jay Egloff of South Western HS in the 1985 District III SC AAA Regional Tournament (your teammate Tony Hoffman finished 3rd) and both of you qualified and wrestled in the '85 PIAA State Tournament, where you made it to the semi-finals @ 185lbs. and ended with a 6th place medal!  You are one of sixteen West York Wrestlers to earn a PIAA State Wrestling medal/trophy.  Take us back to that grueling couple of weeks... what were your thoughts and preparation?
WP -
You're right it was grueling... but it was also a lot of fun!  I think Coaches McCleary and Gay were really focused on getting me more aggressive to compete at that level.  I remember them pounding aggression into me at practice.  They wanted me to cross-face harder, "combination" wrestle and really hit my moves with a purposeThey pushed me hard but I liked it.  There is a gratifying feeling after a hard workout.  I would dream my moves at night and day dream in class.  To me, going to the PIAA State Wrestling Tournament was just part of the plan and they were preparing me mentally and physically to meet the challenge.  They were dedicated and proud and I wouldn't have gotten as far as I did without their commitment.  I don't remember ever being as focused on anything as I was then.
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DL - How many times did you wrestle South Western's Jay Egloff in your career - and did you ever garner a win?
WP -
I wrestled Jay Egloff six times and never won against him.  It's funny, in preparation for this interview, I couldn't remember my record or what tournaments I placed in... but, I definitely remember that stat.  Jay was a great wrestler.  He had a way of forcing mistakes without ever making any errors himself.  As Coach Barry Gay once said to me, "He had your number!"
Note: (South Western's Jay Egloff was a 2-time District III South Central Regional Champion - '84 & '85, a 2-time PIAA State AAA Medalist - '84◦5th & '85◦3rd, and finished his stellar career with an 85-15-1 record... which is 6th all-time at South Western.  In the 1984-85 wrestling season, Jay Egloff was  34-1... his only loss in the '85 PIAA State AAA semi-finals)

1985 YCIAA AAA Sectional Champions
▪ West York's Tony Hoffman (1st on left in back row)...
captured the 1985 138lb. YCIAA Sectional AAA Crown!
West York's Tony Hoffman also placed 3rd at the '85 SC Regionals
and qualified for the PIAA AAA State Tourney along with West York's
Wilmer Pressel, who finished 2nd at the '85 Sections & SC Regionals.
1985 PIAA State AAA placewinner's from the above photo:
∙ Mark Banks, York Vo-Tech (back - 2nd from left) - PIAA 2nd at 145lbs.
∙ Jay Egloff, South Western (back - 5th from left) - PIAA 3rd at 185lbs.
George McCormack, Dallastown (back - 6th from left) - PIAA 2nd at Hwt.

▪ York Vo-Tech's Mark Banks went on to win the '86 PIAA State title
@ 155lbs. while going 28-0 &... became a 2-time NCAA All-American
at West Virginia University!!

photo submitted by Charlie Jacobs
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DL - When did you take up the sport of wrestling and who were your early coaches and teachers?
WP -
I was in sixth grade and I remember my dad taking me to Loucks Elementary School to wrestle.  I walked in and I was the only wrestler there.  It was at that time I met Kevin McCleary, as he was the coach.  Kevin McCleary was involved in coaching me my whole career.  Michael Young was my WY Junior High Head Coach, but Kevin McCleary was always there.  In 10th grade, I had the honor of being coached by a couple of the greatest guys ever in John T. Toggas and John W. Sprenkle.  Both Coach Toggas and Coach Sprenkle are very inspiring people in their own way.  I don't think anyone can teach an arm-bar like Coach JT and there is no one on earth that can "fire you up" like Coach Sprenkle!  As my wrestling became more advanced, Coach McCleary was there to take me to the next advanced level.  I can't go past this question without mentioning my greatest mentor though, my father.  It didn't matter what it took or how much it cost, we would go to tournaments "anywhere"... and, if I needed anything - he got it for me.  My father never missed any of my matches... not one!  He taught me at an early age to never quit - no matter how little or big.  He was proud of me if I did my best, even if I lost.  But, if I did not do my best... he would be sure to let me know that too.
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DL - I typed up a York Daily Record article from March 1985 (below) that outlined your early age blindness in one eye - and how that challenge was a precursor to you focusing on wrestling and weightlifting!  How did it affect your wrestling... and, your everyday activities?
WP -
I've always been blind in one eye so to me it's normal.  It's everyone else who has that three-dimensional problem!!  Actually, when I was a kid... you could really tell there was something going on with my eye.  I had a hard time focusing unless I turned my head at people and the other kids picked on me a lot.  I think my dad wanted me to get into a tough sport so I would be able to take care of myself and help build my self confidence.  One way that it affected my wrestling is that I was a "left-footed shooter."  I don't think I realized what a benefit that stance was until late in my career.  Most wrestlers lead with their right foot.  I just did it this way because I could see what I was shooting at.  Weight-lifting was just part of the program that helped me become a much better athlete.  I took to it like a duck to water.  As far as my everyday activities, I don't do anything any different than anyone one else.  I just bump into more stuff doing it!
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DL - Tell me about the coaching and philosophy changes during your career at West York.  You wrestled your sophomore year for Coaches John T. Toggas, John Sprenkle, Kevin McCleary and Brian Kuntz.  Then, your junior and senior years brought in the Kevin McCleary era.  Your thoughts and memories?  (assistant wrestling coaches under Coach Kevin McCleary at that time... 1983-1985 included Barry Gay, Ken Shorts, and Larry Gay)
WP -
Well, let's start with Coaches JT Toggas, John Sprenkle and Brian Kuntz.  As I mentioned earlier, these are great people!  Coach JT emphasized the basics and drilled them everyday until "everyone" got it.  He taught us to perform a move, then move quickly to anther move if the first one didn't work.  Coach Toggas has a proven track record of success and he did it all with the basics, but knowing them well.  You had to know a couple take downs, how to get out of the bottom... and of course an arm-bar.  Getting out of the bottom was beating the guy off the whistle, exploding, and not stopping until you were out.  Coach John Sprenkle had a way of doubling your pulse rate just by talking to you!  He absolutely loved intensity and could get more out of you than you ever thought you could do.  My interaction with Coach Brian Kuntz was limited because he worked more with the lighter weights.  There was an unspoken intensity in the wrestling room at all times with these guys.  It was just expected that you give it all or get out!  I don't think anyone wanted to disappoint them.

Coach Kevin McCleary was like perfection on steroids in everything he taught.  He would breakdown every move... showing all the pressure points and finer points of the tactic.  As you would progress, he would add to it until you were performing combinations.  He knew how to work with what you were strongest at... and build off of it.  I wrestled Coach McCleary, or should I say he beat on me, all the way through my career and he was like an immovable object!  Tough as nails!!  But Coach Mac, if you are reading this, I DID take you down that one time in the corner of the wrestling room, even if it was for just a second!!  (That'll get him going!)  Coach Barry Gay assisted Coach Mac when I was there and he was more than just a great coach.  He filled in the blanks when I was confused (which was pretty much often).  Coach Gay was my counselor when I was falling apart and he would boot me in in butt when I needed it.  I really looked up to him.  He could teach a turn-in like no other and I do my best to mimic his explanation of it now when I coach... but I don't do it as well.  Coach Ken Shorts also helped and he taught me that anyone could be thrown at anytime.  He was a lunatic!  Coach McCleary, of course elaborated on this for me.  I did like to throw people.  Coach Larry Gay also came in to help out (beat on me), especially during the post season.  I'd like to also say that in addition to Coach Kevin McCleary - John Chiappy was a huge influence on me - early on.  All of these above people had a profound effect on my life in a positive way.
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DL - When you wrestled for Coach McCleary, it appears you wrestled in some very tough tournaments and duals, including the Top Hat event in Williamsport, PA.  What is your recollection of your toughest dual meet and toughest tournament match... and the outcome of each competition?
WP -
Well I've had quite a few tough ones, Don.  I don't want to open up the Jay Egloff wound again, you know how that turned out!  So I will tell you about a match I had in the finals of the Williamsport Top Hat Tournament.  I wrestled a guy named John Heffernan from St. Edwards-Ohio, and he was allegedly one of the nation's best.  It didn't turn out so good for me... as he pinned me in the third period.  Nothing fancy, he ankle-picked me to take me down and wrist and half'ed me into submission.  But, the way he did it was animalistic.  My neck hurt so bad I couldn't pick my head up for two weeks!  I learned a lot from that match.  I would say that one of the toughest dual meet matches with a lot of suspense building up to it was against Brian Slowey from Bethlehem Catholic.  We wrestled at Lehigh University's Grace Hall before one of their college matches.  I was a junior and he was a touted senior.  I weighed in at 167lbs. and he at 185lbs., so BECAHI's coaches were guessing who was going to wrestle him.  I threw him twice and put him on his back for two points - both times.  I won the match 8-4.  I think I turned a corner that day because I was not supposed to win!
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DL - Coach Kevin McCleary (West York 1973), from junior high (7th-8th-9th grades) to senior high (10th-11th-12th grades), never lost a dual meet!  He is one of two WY wrestlers, the other being Dr. Glenn Amsbaugh (Lehigh Wrestling Alumnus, EIWA 2nd & NCAA Qualifier), to never lose a dual meet in their careers.  Coach McCleary went on to garner a NCAA DIII 3rd place All-American finish in 1974 @ F&M - and in my eyes, is one of the best wrestlers in West York Wrestling History not to win a PIAA title.  What can you tell me about the practices and technique teachings from such an accomplished wrestler?
WP -
There is NO question in my mind how good Kevin McCleary was!  I touched on this earlier (above) on how Coach McCleary could "detail" every move so you could understand how it worked.  He would take the time to instruct, and then we would drill... and drill at a fast pace.  If one of the guys was skilled at a certain move, he would have them perform the move with him instructing it, also.  It was very cool... because he would be the "dummy" for the move and it made you feel good that he trusted you to do it correctly!  Other guys in the room thought... "Well, if he can do it, so can I."  We had a lot of fun at practice while still working very hard.  He never yelled at you if you didn't do well in a match as far as I can remember.  He would wait until the next practice and show you what you did wrong AND how to correct it.  Sometimes with Coach McCleary, it was the things never spoken that said the most if you didn't do well or if it was the best match you ever wrestled!  If he was trying to explain something to you - he was excellent at relating to something you were familiar with to understand.  Coach McCleary got to know all of us really well so he could relate to us when he needed to.  He won with you and lost with you.  He had a true understanding of what each wrestler's capabilities were... and lead you in the direction you needed to get there.  I don't get to see him much these days, but I still consider him a great friend.
Note: (Kevin McCleary is currently the head junior high wrestling coach at Dover, PA)
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DL - What did wrestling teach you with regard to the challenges of everyday life?
WP -
EVERYTHING!  Wrestling taught me that if you want something bad enough and you work hard enough for it... you can succeed in whatever it is you want to do.  It doesn't matter what it is.  I wasn't the most coordinated, natural athlete that walked through the wrestling room door.  But, I worked really hard and had some success because of it.  It doesn't matter if you win all your matches, the reality is that you will be a better, more confident person... who knows how to strive for goals by giving all you have in the wrestling room everyday.  I was an Operations/Labor Manager for a division of DuPont at one time.  Our branch was one of the best performing branches in the country.  We used to have meetings where all of the operations guys would get together and upper management would ask me what I did to get the numbers we posted and I would tell them the truth.  They basically told me that I just "willed" things to happen and that I was the exception to the rule.  Well, in my mind... every person who gave their all on a wrestling mat is the "exception to the rule!"  Everyone has "challenges" in their life, but there is no challenge that can't be overcome.  There is a student on our WY Junior High team who has cerebral palsy (Brandon Gordon) and he does everything "and more" that the other student wrestlers perform!  If you want to know what a challenge is, try to walk in his shoes for a day!  Brandon Gordon is my hero!  He inspires me every day I see his smiling face!
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DL - How good was your 1985 West York teammate - 138lb. Tony Hoffman, who accompanied you to the '85 PIAA State Wrestling Tournament?
WP -
Tony Hoffman was an awesome wrestler!  Tony had an unmatched work ethic and would push the others as well.  I think Tony Hoffman could have also placed at states, but he had a bad seed coming into the '85 AAA PIAA tournament... and lost a really close match to a guy that I think, placed in the top three.  I don't know what Tony's middle name is, but it should be "intensity!"  Tony Hoffman was SUPER intense!  When he shot at someone... you wouldn't even have to be looking to know he shot - because you could hear it.  If you've ever seen that yellow license plate with the evil looking smiley face on it, well that's Tony Hoffman!
Note: (West York's Tony Hoffman placed 3rd @ 138lbs. at the '85 DIII South Central Regional Tournament and qualified for the '85 PIAA State Tournament)

West York's 167lb. Wilmer Pressel (left) - 4th in the '84 AAA Sections.
(WY's W. Pressel - 6th @ the 1985 PIAA State Championships)
photo submitted by Charlie Jacobs
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DL - Wilmer, did you participate in any other sports while at West York?
WP -
Yes.  I played football and really enjoyed it.  I played 7th grade through 12th grade...with the exception of 11th grade.  During my sophomore year in football, I got in a varsity game and someone rolled my ankle and I ended up in a cast for six weeks.  I almost missed the start of wrestling, so the following year I didn't want to chance it... so I focused on my weight training for wrestling.  Looking back, I regret that move because participating in football helped my aggressiveness for wrestling, which was a key component for me.  I came back and played my senior year, though.  It was a blast... and we won the county championship!  I also went out for track & field a couple of times.
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DL - Tell me a little about your off-season weightlifting and tournament regimens while you were at West York?
WP -
I started weight-lifting about the same time I started wrestling.  Like I said earlier, I took to it like a "duck to water."  I religiously weight trained at least three times a week, even during wrestling season.  I would go to the local gym after wrestling practice.  Back in the mid 1980's, we didn't have weight training equipment at West York.  I wrestled probably five or six wrestling tournaments over the summer.  I really liked it, because we would travel to different places and the trips were cool.  I remember one that my dad and I went to when I became of driving age.  We went to Meadville, PA which was just outside of Erie, PA.  We left around 2:00am... and I drove about half way, wrestled the tournament, and I drove the entire five hours back.  That made for a really long day.  But, I valued that time I spent with my dad.
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DL - You have two sons in the West York Wrestling program... one in senior high and one in elementary.  Do they ever ask you about your wrestling past, and... how tough is it to watch your sons wrestle?
WP -
We didn't talk much about my "wrestling past" before they started wrestling.  It comes up once in a while when my oldest son wants to talk about the "stone ages."  I believe my daughter, Harley... inquires more about it than the boys do!  As far as watching them wrestle, it's really tough!  I try not to get too excited, but inside I'm flipping out!  My wife, Billie Jo, is afraid they'll get hurt and I'm wishing that they pound their opponent!  I've come to realize the pride my parents must have felt, though.  Even if they lose, I want to be there for them and point out the good things they did to make them feel better.  We video tape their matches so I get to talk to them about the good, the bad and the ugly things objectively... when they are calm.  I usually try to joke around about the bad stuff.  I'll stop the video right at the appropriate moment and say "So, what was going though your mind when this guy was head locking you?"  My boys are no different than anyone else's kids, if they give all they got, I'm proud of them - win or lose.
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DL - Do you see anything different with today's wrestling versus the mid 1980's when York County really had some talented wrestlers at both the AA & AAA level?
WP -
I'd say locally there are still some YAIAA studs... but, it doesn't seem like you see that "weekly" matchup between two outstanding grapplers as often as you used to.  You know what I mean... the "big" match of the week.  The big matches seem to be a little more spread out now.  But, they still happen and you don't have to go far (District III) to see some serious top-notch wrestling between real strong schools.  I think that there is more competition with wrestling now, also.  The other sports seem to have the year-round dedication that wrestling used to have.  When I was in school, the football players were encouraged to wrestle because the movements and workouts helped them tremendously in football, especially linemen. (PSU's Joe Paterno LOVES wrestlers!)  The same is true for wrestlers, as I think that participating in football helps your aggressiveness for wrestling.  How about the endurance of a soccer player?  I do think that kids should participate in multiple sports.  It's a nice, short-term break... but, you can stay in shape and you aren't so one dimensional.
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DL - If you could go back to your sophomore year at West York and relive that year - to your senior year... what would you change about those three years and why?
WP -
As far as my wrestling goes, nothing.  Sure, I would like to say I was a PA State Champion... but, I feel I worked to the best of my ability, pounded the weights and wrestled every tournament I could get to.  And, I had an absolute blast doing it!  So, I can't say I would want those fantastic memories to be any different.  If I could go back and change something academically, I think I would have tried to be a better student in school.  Education is so important... and, it is even more important now.  The only other thing would be... that I should have played football in my junior year.
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DL - Wilmer, thank you so much for sharing some stories from the past with our alumni!  I wish you and your sons the best of luck this upcoming wrestling season.  Thank you, again.
WP -
Thank you, Don!  Keep up the great work on the alumni website!
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∙ 1985 District III South Central Regional AAA Wrestling 185lb. Finals.
West York's Wilmer Pressel (top) lost to South Western's Jay Egloff, 10-1.
(Tony Hoffman of West York finished 3rd @ 138lbs. in '85 to qualify for the PIAA's)

1985 2nd Annual York Senior Mat Stars Results
Green All-Stars 26, Red All-Stars 11
▪ Jason Stabley (Dover) dec. Mike White (Northeastern) 12-2
▪ Harold Sprenkle (York High) dec. Terry Yohe (Eastern) 10-7
▪ Dave Schimp (South Western) dec. Jeff Baum (Eastern) 8-1
▪ Scott McMullen (Dover) dec. Chris Steckel (Red Lion) 9-3
Chad Toomey (West York) dec. Chris Golden (York Catholic) 10-1
Tony Hoffman (West York) dec. Scott Groft (Hanover) 16-9
▪ Mike Bobb (York Suburban) dec. Matt Ream (York Catholic) 10-3
▪ Jeff Myers (Spring Grove) dec. John Wampler (York Catholic) 10-7
Jay Egloff (South Western) dec. Wilmer Pressel (West York) 5-1
▪ Ken Weaver (Hanover) dec. Eric Bortner (South Western) 11-9
▪ George McCormack (Dallastown) dec. Mike Olewiler (Eastern) 9-1

Monday March 18, 1985
by Lynn Arnold...York Daily Record staff writer
Despite blind eye, West York's Pressel is sixth in state tourney
 HERSHEY - When Wilmer Pressel was younger, the neighborhood kids used to call him names and pick on him because he had a peculiar handicap.  No one is picking on Wilmer Pressel these days, though.  The West York senior wrestler has long-since dispelled the notion that he is in any way weak or inferior simply because he is blind in one eye.  Pressel, who lost sight in his right eye as an infant because of a nerve disorder, placed sixth in the highly competitive 185-pound division of the PIAA Class AAA State Wrestling Tournament Saturday at Hersheypark Arena.  Pressel downplays his partial blindness, but admits it helped spur him toward athletic excellence.  "I don't consider it a handicap anymore.  I just make adjustments and work around it," said Pressel, who finished the 1984-85 season with a 29-8 record.  "Most of my moves are one-sided.  I always shoot for takedowns to the left because that's where my line of vision is.  Actually, it (the disorder) is why I got involved in wrestling in the first place," Pressel said.  "When I was little, the other kids used to pick on me, so I decided to work out and get involved in wrestling."  West York Coach Kevin McCleary said he recalls a skinny, somewhat uncoordinated sixth-grader named Wilmer who decided to begin weightlifting and wrestling.  "I believe his eyesight problem motivated him to seek success in athletics," McCleary said.  "I think that's why he's been hitting the weights so hard the past six years to build his strength.  Wilmer is a guy who didn't have a lot of natural talent to start with, and I think the vision problem would make wrestling very difficult.  He's made himself what he is by hard work."

∙ 2009-10 West York SH Team Photos - 2009-10 West York JH Team Photos - 2009-10 Schedule - 2011-12 Teams

    Wilmer Pressel '85

2012 Interview w/Coaches Brian Gross & Wilmer Pressel

Wilmer Pressel
(left) w/Brian Gross @ Governor Mifflin Tourney.


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