Ten Oxford seniors sign letters of intent to play at the collegiate level
● By Steven Hoffman
Ten Oxford Area High School seniors—Nolan Benke, Ginger Bradbury, Troy Brown, David Cox, Josh Freese, Cole Gruver, Ryan Hannum, Cole Hartert, Harry Marr, and Andrew Stefanosky—will be playing their respective sports at the collegiate level after signing their letters of intent. A ceremony to honor the student-athletes took place at the school on May 18.
David Cox will be joining Lock Haven University’s highly respected wrestling program after a successful four years in Oxford. Cox overcame injuries that shortened his freshman and sophomore seasons to still win more than 90 matches during his career at Oxford.
As a freshman, Cox competed in the rigorous 145-pound division. He subsequently moved up to 152 pounds for his sophomore year, 160 pounds for his junior year, and 170 pounds for his senior year. He advanced to states in both his junior and senior seasons. During his junior year, he finished first in sectionals and districts before taking third place in regionals. During his senior year, he finished first in sectionals, districts, and regionals.
Another leader of the Oxford wrestling team is Harry Marr, who was a four-year varsity grappler and co-captain of the wrestling team during his junior and senior years. He competed in the 106-pound weight class for his freshman and sophomore years, then moved up to 113 pounds for his junior year. He competed at 126 pounds or 132 pounds throughout his senior year. Overall, he compiled a 76-31 record and was a two-time PIAA district qualifier, finishing in fifth place at 106 pounds one year. He said that his work ethic helped him succeed on the mat in high school. He will be wrestling for Keystone College, perhaps in the 141-pound weight class.
Marr said that his favorite memories while at Oxford include working out and spending time with his teammates.
Ginger Bradbury will be heading to Millersville University to play field hockey. A forward or right wing for Oxford, she spent the last two and a half years of her high school career on the varsity squad. The team had a great deal of success during that time, reaching the districts during Bradbury’s junior and senior years.
Bradbury also plays for the North Bay indoor field hockey team under coach Ned Davis. She was already planning to attend Millersville University when she was spotted by Millersville University coaches at an indoor showcase, opening up the opportunity for her to play field hockey for the school as well.
Bradbury has wanted to be a teacher since she was very young, and decided that that was the career that she was going to pursue in second grade. She will major in elementary education and special education when she gets to Millersville University in the fall. She is part of the Millersville University Honors College.
Andrew Stefanosky was a standout pitcher on the Oxford baseball team that had its best season in perhaps a decade. The team finished one win short of qualifying for the district tournament.
Stefanosky, who is heading to Penn State-Harrisburg, played on varsity for three years. He said that while he struggled a bit as a sophomore pitching against older players, he was able to improve his slider and curve ball and keep track of hitters’ weaknesses. Learning how to pitch to different hitters allowed him to post an E.R.A. of 2.46.
“My game more about trying to out-think the hitter,” Stefanosky explained.
When he wasn’t pitching, Stefanosky was a first baseman. He worked hard to improve his batting average during his senior season. When Stefanosky heads to Penn State-Harrisburg, he will play for the fall baseball team and then try out for the spring team.
Ryan Hannum will be playing at soccer at Franklin & Marshall next year after a stellar soccer career at Oxford. As a senior, Hannum scored ten goals and contributed eight assists. On Senior Night, he scored three goals against Chichester.
Hannum said that one of the highlights during his time at Oxford was earning a spot on varsity as a freshman. There were a lot of seniors on that team, and Oxford had a very good season.
He was a captain for Oxford’s soccer team, and led the team in scoring as a junior and senior. He was selected for Ches-Mont League and All-Area teams for three straight years.
Hannum was also enlisted to be a kicker on the football team for his junior and senior seasons.
“It was stressful at first,” he admitted, but soon he was juggling his duties for both teams. A highlight during his time with the football team was a game-winning field goal against Sun Valley in the first game of the season. He also won another game with an extra point.
Of the ten student-athletes who have recently signed letters of intent to play sports at the collegiate level, five of them were from the football team—an impressive fact for a football program that is on the upswing.
According to head coach Mike Means, it has been quite some time since Oxford has had one sports team send five seniors off to play at the collegiate level.
“We’re just really proud of these athletes and proud that the program is trending in that direction,” Means said. “All five of these players were very dedicated and the schools that they are going to took notice.”
Lineman Joshua Freese, one of the leaders and certainly one of the hardest workers on the Oxford football team, is heading to McDaniel College. He was one of the team’s captains who worked hard in the weight room to match up against bigger players in the rugged Ches-Mont League.
Freese didn’t start playing football until the seventh grade, but he quickly adjusted to the hard work that is necessary to play football.
“My dad started me lifting weights in the fifth grade,” Freese explained.
When he arrived at the high school, he was lifting with the varsity squad and very quickly became one of the leaders in the weight room, always pushing himself and his teammates to work harder. Freese said that the Oxford players really motivated each other to work hard in the weight room. He recalled the time when one of his teammates did more squats than he did. Even though he was already exhausted, Freese pushed himself to do as many squats as his teammate.
“I really got motivation from my teammates,” he said.
Freese was a second team All-Ches-Mont selection as a junior and first team All-Ches-Mont and second team all-area player as a senior. He could play offense or defense in college, and may even see time as a fullback.
Cole Gruver, a defensive lineman who spent most of his time playing the defensive tackle position, is is the kind of player that football coaches love because he really enjoys playing the sport and all the hard work that comes with it.
“I’ve been playing football since I was five or six,” Gruver explained.
He typified the hard work and hustle that have become hallmarks of the football team in recent years.
“We were always smaller than everybody else,” Gruver explained, “so we took it as a challenge. It’s been a great experience. These guys have been awesome.”
Gruver said that one game that stands out for him was a Week Three clash against Phoenixville when he had an enormous game for an interior lineman—he had an interception, a sack, 2.5 tackles for a loss, and two more tackles. He will be playing for Geneva College in the fall.
Troy Brown is heading to Kutztown University after a standout career as a wide receiver for the Hornets. He was a second team All-Ches-Mont League selection as a junior, and made many big catches for the team.
Brown's favorite catch came in a game against Solanco when he hauled in a catch with one hand. Brown is a well-rounded athlete who also played on the basketball team and participated in track.
His high jump of six feet, four inches was the best mark in the Ches-Mont League championships.
Nolan Benke played corner on the football team and was also a key contributor to the baseball team. He is heading to Lebanon Valley College in the fall and will likely play both sports there.
Benke had two interceptions in his senior season. He was also willing to do anything the team needed, including filling in at running back and wide receiver at times because of injuries.
Benke said that the program turned around with the arrival of head coach Mike Means before the 2015 season.
“I think he really changed things around, and it was cool to be a part of that,” Benke said.
On the baseball diamond, Benke was a four-year varsity player. He was primarily an outfielder and also pitched. He hit around .300 in his final season and had a nine-game hitting streak.
“I vividly remember my freshman year, being a starter as a freshman. I really enjoyed that,” Benke said.
Like Benke, Cole Hartert, a free safety on the football team, is heading to Lebanon Valley College. He was one of the team’s captains and has a high football IQ.
Hartert said that one of the reasons he ended up at Lebanon Valley College is because of Benke, who signed there first.
Hartert had two interceptions during his senior season before getting injured in a game against Bayard Rustin. He suffered a torn ACL that kept him out of action for the rest of the football season.
The safety position is a demanding one, and Hartert is adept at coming up to stop the run or dropping back into coverage on a pass play. He said that he thinks his strong suit is dropping back into coverage.
Reflecting on his high school career, Hartert said that making the varsity squad as a sophomore and being named as a team captain were highlights.
“ I am so proud of all ten of our student athletes who signed today,” said Oxford athletic director Michael Price. “They are truly passionate about their respective sports, but they are also dedicated to their academics. This is a terrific group of well-rounded student-athletes, and I look forward to watching them grow at the next level of competition.”