And when it is time to wrestle, the only person a wrestler can depend on is
himself. Teammates, coaches, parents, his girlfriend, can't do a thing for a wrestler once he goes into the mat's circle.
Last season, The Haverford School's Eric Stetson won the 138-pound title at the Philadelphia Area Private Schools Wrestling Tournament (PAPSWT). What he said after his championshiop bout says much about what a wrestler feels as he goes onto the mat for his match.
"Thank God, it's over," Stetson said. "I didn't blow it. I didn't die under pressure."
Well, the pressure cooker is just about ready to start again for wrestlers in the 21 area schools. It's a long season that ends with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association's section, district, regional, and state tourneys for public school wrestlers, and the PAPSWT and Prep Nationals for the private school matters in March.
A school-by-school rundown follows.
Coach: Bruce Finkel, first year.
Record last year: The Cougars were 7-8 overall and finished fifth in the Shipley Tournament.
Key wrestlers lost: It will be hard to replace Steve Segal at 112 pounds. He was named the outstanding wrestler in the Penn Jersey League Championships.
Key returning lettermen: Brian Goldberg (126), Dave Rich (132), and Jacob Coyar (138) give the Cougars senior experience in the middle. Rob Auritt (105) and Ross Berkowitz (112) will help down low.
Promising newcomers: Akiba will get strength in the upper weights from Marlon Groen (155), Mark Geish (167), and Ovram Heintz (167).
Strengths: With that senior core, Akiba should be tough in the middle weights.
Weaknesses: Cougars will be without a 98-pounder and a heavyweight.
Outlook: Finkel is a Plymouth-Whitemarsh grad who knows his stuff. He will have to hope his seniors can carry the load until this team seasons around them.
Coach: Rick Diamond, second year.
Record last year: The Patriots were 2-6 in the Catholic League.
Key wrestlers lost: Heavyweight Tim Greim graduated. He was third in the Catholic League Championships.
Key returning lettermen: A strong senior group returns. Jim Mariani (126) will captain. Joe McIlhome (132) and Ted Flynn (138) stabilize the middle while Brian Graham (155) and Steve Breslin (167) give the Pats some strength up top.
Promising newcomers: Diamond has a pair of 98-pound sophomores, Kevin Downs and Dave Givey, who should help. "We're primarily juniors and sophomores," Diamond said. "And we've had a terrific turnout (60 matters). That's encouraging."
Strengths: Good balance from the light to the middle weights will be a key for the Pats. Carroll has more experience, too.
Weaknesses: There are few bodies at 185 and heavyweight. Mike Moran may help if his weight comes down to the 275-pound limit and his ankle heals.
Outlook: "I'd be disappointed if we don't get fifth place in the league this year," Diamond said. "We have some depth in just about every position. I'm confident. I think we'll get some respect this season." A tough nonleague schedule, which includes Episcopal Academy, The Haverford School, and Radnor, will test the Patriots.
Coach: Tom Shaiko, first year.
Record last year: The Lions were 0-8 in the Catholic League.
Key wrestlers lost: Jim McGrory was 14-1 at 185 and second in the league championships.
Key returning lettermen: Lions have senior strength in Chris Palermo (112), Joe Guinan (112), Rob Panetta (126), Bill Patton (185, heavyweight), and Steve Painter (167).
Promising newcomers: Lions hope Brian Verna develops at heavyweight. John Welde (145) and Matt Young (185) have some varsity experience as does Jim Cavallaro, who saw some time at 98 last year. He'll still be there. Pat Martin is up from the junior varsity at 155.
Strengths: Lightweights are the key to a good season. Young and Painter look like the iron up top.
Weaknesses: As usual, the Lions are thin on experience.
Outlook: "We have more kids out than any other team in the league," Shaiko said. "I don't see us beating Archbishop Wood or Bishop Egan, they're always tough. But I think we can be .500."
Coach: Al Wolstenholme, 24th year.
Record last year: The Pioneers were Central League champs and finished with 15-3 overall record. Conestoga finished second in the Section V Tournament.
Key wrestlers lost: Blaine Hibberd was 22-5 at 126. Jamie Perri was 22-5 at 132. Both have graduated along with Greg Walters (138) and Dave Blackburn (167).
Key returning lettermen: Owen Hibberd (112, 119) could be the area's best. Hibberd, a sectional and district champ, finished fifth in the state at 98 pounds last year and should be back in Hershey again this March. "He is just in fantastic physical condition," Wolstenhome said of Hibberd. "He's the team leader, just by the work example he sets in the room." Conestoga has loads of other talented matters back, including Tod Seidel (98), Greg Rodgers (112), Dan Farra (119), Jim Stowell (132), Mike Scott (185), and Jay Shelton (heavyweight).
Promising newcomers: Trevor Parker was 17-1 as a junior varsity 105- pounder. Topper Ray was 12-2 as a 132 JV matter. John Levenson and Pete Danczewski were both 17-1 as junior varsity middleweights. Carlos Granda (105), Anthony Nappy (98), Mike Billings (155), Mike DeHaven (167), Ryan O'Kane (167, 185), and Craig Downey (heavyweight) may all see varsity mat time.
Strengths: Wolstenholme likes his balanced lineup and his club's work habits. Suiting up a talent like Owen Hibberd every match helps the whole team's attitude, too.
Weaknesses: Football injuries may limit O'Kane and DeHaven. Pioneers may be a bit thin at 155 and 167.
Outlook: Wolstenholme can't see anybody beating Springfield (Delco). But it will be hard for him to hide in the weeds with this Conestoga club. Pioneers and Springfield meet Jan. 14 in a match that may decide the league champion. Hibberd also has an 88-13-1 career mark and may be able to eclipse all-time District 1 record for wins.
Coach: Mark Davis, first year.
Record last year: The Knights were 3-10 and finished third in their own invitational tourney.
Key wrestlers lost: Ted Kennett (167) was a Delco Invite champ and placed second at the Stony Brook, N.Y., tourney. Jeff Clark (185) was first at Stony Brook. Fred Duling (132) will also not be back.
Key returning lettermen: Barry Burkholder, the captain of last season's team, returns at 145. Franz Zetterberg (132) is the other senior back. Delco will also be counting on junior Joe Galli at 155.
Promising newcomers: A couple of sophomores will help. Eric Pickett will be at 112 while Sean Farely should fill in at 98. "Pickett's got good drive, he's a determined wrestler," Davis said. "He's mean on the mat."
Strengths: The Knights have strength in their lightweights.
Weaknesses: Delco may have to forfeit 185 and heavyweight.
Outlook: Delco has a very young team, made up primarily of sophomores. The schedule is "not too tough, which should be a help for these guys," Davis said. "I think we'll win more individual bouts than we did last year. But I don't know if we'll win any more team matches."
Coach: Crawford Hill, seventh year.
Record last year: The Churchmen were the class of the Inter-Academic League, taking the league title with a 4-0 league record. It was their third title in the last five years. They were 13-5 overall.
Key wrestlers lost: Wrestlers like Chris Roe (167) can't be replaced. Roe was a PAPSWT champion and finished third at the National Prep Tournament at Lehigh University. He finished career with 101 wins, the all-time mark at Episcopal.
Key returning lettermen: Hill has a very solid crew back. Chris Supplee was the hero in the coveted victory over The Haverford School last year. He's at 185 and "as dedicated as any wrestler I've had in 12 years of coaching," Hill said. Co-captains Gabby Roe (155, 167) and Mike Hill (112, 119) are two of the best around. Frank Mascaro (126) is all-league. Erik Strid is a solid heavyweight. Andy Hilger (112) and Graham Burnett (145) came on strong last year.
Promising newcomers: Kurt Hoffmann and Matt Schaeffer will battle at 98. Charlie Erwin is a solid 155-pounder. Jeff Coale (126), Nick Nastasi (132, 138), Rahsahn Bowden (132, 138), and the very strong Tim Gardner (155, 167) head another fine group ready to make its mark.
Strengths: From the bottom through the middle, some of the better wrestlers in the area wear Episcopal togs. Competition for mat time will only strengthen that group.
Weaknesses: Churchmen have quality but little quantity in higher weights. ''God help us if something happens to Strid or Supplee," Hill said.
Outlook: It's hard not to pick Episcopal again in the Inter-Ac. Judgment day is Jan. 23. That's when the holy war with The Haverford School flares again. "We've got a real good group back that knows how to win," said Hill. ''They know what kind of work it takes. They know what they have to do and they're eager to do it. That makes it fun to coach them."
Coach: Doug Ross, second year.
Record last year: The Phoenix was 4-1 in the Friends School League, finishing second to Germantown Friends. Friends' Central was 7-4 overall.
Key wrestlers lost: League champions Andy Katz (145) and Eli Gross (126) have graduated. Both posted 25-1 marks with losses coming in PAPSWT finals.
Key returning lettermen: Senior captains Pete Klein (126) and Jim Rutenberg (138) were second and third respectively in the league championships last year. But Peter Tashjian (132) "is our most polished and toughest wrestler," said Ross. League champ Pete Wilson (112) and John Adler (167) are also back.
Promising newcomers: Abel Del Rio has varsity experience and is set for heavyweight. Pete Klein's brother Jeff (126) and Tri Tang (98) also will help.
Strengths: "Depth and overall balance," Ross said. "The kids also have a great attitude. They're working very hard."
Weaknesses: Experience is lacking in many weight classes. Injuries will be costly.
Outlook: "Last year, with Katz, Gross, and Tashjian, I was sure of three pins," Ross said. "But I also had four weight classes where I knew I was in trouble, too. I think we have better balance this year." Friends' Central wants another shot at Germantown Friends. "I don't think anybody should count us out," Ross said. "We'll be there at the end." Ross think Friends Select may be league's dark horse.
Coach: John Fidler, second year.
Record last year: The Patriots finished at 16-1 overall with their only loss to Downingtown. The Patriots were third in the Section IV Tournament and second in the District 1 South Tournament.
Key wrestlers lost: One of the school's best mat classes ever graduated last spring. John Foust (105) and Ken Brown (126) were sectional and district kings. Fred Kline (132), Kevin Rafferty (138), and Ed Rodgers (145) all had fine careers.
Key returning lettermen: Two seniors will key the Pats, Damen Magozzi (185) was 15-2 last year and Dan Brown (132) advanced all the way to states. Jim Behler (98) was 12-7 as a sophomore. Steve DeRafelo (112) and Keith Haines (167) are both experienced grapplers.
Promising newcomers: Three sophomores should help down low - Jerry Bankert (98, 105), Chris Diaz (98, 105), and Jamie Milden (126, 132). Eric Kleppe (138), Steve Cardamone (145), John McDonald (155), Brian Wright (heavyweight), and Eric Fisher (heavyweight) will also play roles.
Strengths: The letter winners carry Valley's mat tradition and must pass it on to a very young team. "We've had some great teams here," Fidler said. ''The other kids have to come up to the five letter-winners' standards."
Weaknesses: "We're young," Fidler said. And Valley's numbers have been down the past couple of years. "We suited six kids for some junior varsity matches last year," Fidler said.
Outlook: "We hope we can see improvement as the year goes on," Fidler said. Of course, in the Ches-Mont, everything is measured against Downingtown, champs for the last five years. Pats battled valiantly against the Whippets in winters past but Valley needs major rebuilding. Fidler feels a .500 season would be realistic goal. Who'll stop the Whippets? Well, Downingtown has just four home matches and 14 away. And West Chester East "is loaded," according to Fidler. But most agree that Downingtown is a prohibitive favorite for the crown.
Coach: Bill Zimmerman, 26th year.
Record last year: The Rams were 5-7 overall and 4-3 in the Delaware Valley League. Harriton placed sixth in the Section VI tourney.
Key wrestlers lost: Glenn Satell was a sectional and district king at 155 and compiled a 21-3 record. John Lecky was also a sectional champ at 132. Both have graduated.
Key returning lettermen: Greg Satell (167), Noah Jenkins (132), and Carter Wilson (132, 138) are Zimmerman's only three seniors. Guy Wilson (119) and Jay Dubman (112) garnered seconds at the sectional last year. Keith Lecky (145) and Scott Snyder (185) each have experience.
Promising newcomers: Sophomore Rob Auday will help at 126. Mark Filip at 240 pounds could fill up the heavyweight slot. Todd and Trevor McKenna may help in the middle weights.
Strengths: Zimmerman feels his three seniors will anchor a team that is basically still quite young.
Weaknesses: Rams are inexperienced. And a tough schedule will test this team early.
Outlook: "I'm always optimistic," said Zimmerman. After coaching high school and college teams for over a quarter of a century, Zimmerman knows how to put out a representative club. Sun Valley, Chichester, and Penn Wood beat the Rams in the league last year. "And they have most of their kids back," Zimerman said. "I have a good junior class and a good sophomore class. We're building for the future."
Coach: Jim Jones, 18th year.
Record last year: The Fords were 3-6 in the Central League and 6-9 overall.
Key wrestlers lost: Pat Cook (132) was 16-6 and fourth in the Section V tourney.
Key returning lettermen: Jones has a veteran lineup returning. Greg Rosenbaum (98) was fourth in a very tough section class and returns as a sophomore. Dave Madden (105) was sectional runner-up. Jay Straub (105) returns after a year's absence. Rocco Fantazzi (119), Kent Smith (126), Dave Kleinman (138), Gary Hoover (145), Mark Scepansky (155), Mike Perillo (167), and Keith DiMaio (185) are also back.
Promising newcomers: Mike Toll hopes to be over some health problems and will give it a go at 132. Mike Freeman, a junior, could make waves at 126. A pair of juniors, 240-pound Nate Marker and 205-pound Keith McKittrick will battle with 220-pound freshman Jim Falk for the heavyweight role.
Strengths: "We basically have everyone back from 98 to 132," Jones said. ''And last year, the roof would fall in on us after we got to 145. Now, we hope we have the experience to keep the roof up."
Weaknesses: Jones' upper weights have experience. "But most of them had losing records," Jones said. "Our last six weight classes are untested."
Outlook: "If we're not better than .500, I'd be disappointed," Jones said. "We've got 17 matches and I'm shooting for 10 wins." Jones, like most of the coaches in the circuit, sees Springfield (Delco) and Conestoga as the teams to beat.
THE HAVERFORD SCHOOL
Coach: Neil Buckley, 41st year.
Record last year: The Fords were 3-1 in the Inter-Academic League and 16-3 overall.
Key wrestlers lost: Matt Micolucci (132) has graduated and is now wrestling at Franklin & Marshall University. Micolucci was second at the PAPSWT.
Key returning lettermen: Team captain Eric Stetson was a champ at the PAPSWT and will return at 138. Dan Newhall (heavyweight) placed sixth at the Prep Nationals. "Dan's been lifting and he's a lot stronger," Buckley said. ''He's also gotten quicker on his feet." Craig Ullman (112), Doug Davis (119), Mike Micolucci (132), Rob Edelman (145), Jonas Micolucci (155), Gene Glavin (167) and Jim Luchsinger (185) are all back.
Promising newcomers: Warren Claytor could make his mark in the lower weights.
Strengths: The Fords look solid in their middle and upper weights.
Weaknesses: The lower weights could take some time to fill in.
Outlook: Buckley's career mark at Haverford is 504-92-8. Simply, the Fords are always competitive. They have a 21-match schedule but just three league matches since Chestnut Hill Academy will wrestle outside the Inter-Ac this season. The Fords big bout, of course, is with Episcopal. "But Penn Charter and Malvern Prep should have good teams, too," added Buckley.
HILL TOP SCHOOL
Coach: Chas Cognato, third year.
Record last year: Hawks were 0-8 wrestling as an independent.
Key wrestlers lost: Only one senior graduated, 155-pounder Phil Bleznak.
Key returning lettermen: Paul Percival (145) is a co-captain who will anchor the Hawks, according to Cognato. Percival was 12-2 last year with championships at the Shipley, Tri-County Independent, and Delco tourneys. Todd Kendall (167) is the other co-captain. He also placed high in those tourneys and had an 8-6 log. Chris Spaeth (138) and Sandy Maslow (heavyweight) will also be keys for Hill Top.
Promising newcomers: Jim Hayes (126) is "a scrappy wrestler" according to Cognato. Hill Top should be able to fill 10 of the 12 weight classes.
Strengths: Hill Top's best grapplers are in the upper weights.
Weaknesses: "It's always been the lighter weights with us," Cognato said. ''Those guys are usually younger, and less experienced."
Outlook: Cognato is still building the Hill Top program. He hopes his four lettermen will lead the team and make their marks in the postseason. Hill Top will also compete in the PAPSWT for the first time. "I'm looking to the tournaments for those four guys to get the credit due them for all their hard work," Cognato said.
Coach: Dave Burke, eighth year.
Record last year: The Aces were 8-10 overall.
Key wrestlers lost: Heavyweight Tom Kier had 18 pins. Dave Curtis (138) and Jason Witters (167) have also graduated.
Key returning lettermen: Eric Sohn (98) had 13 pins last year. Co-captain Matt Garber (126, 132) is in his fourth year of varsity wrestling. The other co-captain, Tim Cannon (119, 126), will look to improve on a .500 record. Dan Rubin (105), Tito Ingargiola (119, 126), Paul Weiner (126, 132), Regan Beck (138, 145), Greg Knepper (138, 145), and Pete Aezen (185, heavyweight) all have experience.
Promising newcomers: Burke likes Derek Esibill at 98 pounds. Nick LePresto, a transfer from The Haverford School, should help at 119. Robert Kier is a 265-pound sophomore. Steve Odabashian may also see heavyweight action.
Strengths: The Aces, while still young, have some talented matters back. ''We have a real good turnout this year, too," Burke said. "We have some depth and that's a luxury I haven't had for awhile." The success of the Lower Merion football and soccer teams will help, too. "It set a good tone at the school," Burke said.
Weaknesses: Lower Merion is a young team that's learning. "We're going to make youth mistakes," Burke said. "We've got to make them believe in themselves."
Outlook: After a rocky start, Lower Merion came on with five wins in its last six matches last year. Burke is shooting for a .500 season. In the Central League, "Springfield (Delco) has both barrels loaded," Burke said. ''They're very good. Conestoga and Springfield should vie for the league title. The rest of the teams in the league are pretty well balanced."
Coach: Bruce Kennett, ninth year.
Record last year: The Friars were 10-9 overall and 1-3 in the Inter- Academic League. Malvern placed seventh in the PAPSWT.
Key wrestlers lost: Lou Giangiulio (185) was second in the PAPSWT. Chuck Hurchalla (167) and Arif Malik (126) also graduated.
Key returning lettermen: One of the area's best, Brendon Melody, was a PAPSWT champ at 98 while compiling a 30-2 record. Brendan McAnally (167, 185), Larry Howe (155, 167), Chris Surrichio (132, 138), and Jimmy Kim (105) are also back.
Promising newcomers: Kennett is very high on freshman Denny Forte (126). Sophomore Timmy McClatchy (119) may also make waves. And former West Chester Henderson star Jimmy Patton will wrestle for the Friars when Malvern faces another team with postgraduates. Patton was fifth in the state last year at 119 and holds the career wins mark at Henderson.
Strengths: "We have experience back," Kennett said. "We might not have a lot of tough kids but when you get 10 of 12 classes filled by experienced kids, that's awful nice."
Weaknesses: Overall depth is a problem. "Once you get past our first or second kid, we're in trouble," Kennett said. "If we get injured or banged up, we're dead."
Outlook: With the Inter-Ac now a four-team league for wrestling, Kennett would rather see his team mature in the many tournaments Malvern has on its schedule. Malvern will compete in the West Chester East Holiday Tournament, the LaSalle Invite, the Church Farms School Tournament, the Girard College Tournament, and the Valley Forge tourney, as well as the PAPSWT.
Coach: Stu Nathans, sixth year.
Record last year: The Tigers were 8-10 and 7-2 in the Central League. They finished third in the Section V tourney.
Key wrestlers lost: Plenty of talent has graduated. Kyle Kramer (98) was 21-2 with nine pins while Brendon Monahan (145) was 14-11 with eight pins. Also gone are Jimmy Leighton (12-12 at 105), Todd Donnell (15-14 at 132), and Tim Welch (17-9, nine pins at 185).
Key returning lettermen: Mike DiCandilo was 10-4-2 last year at 167 and a sectional runner-up. Chris Moffitt (132) is another senior Nathans will depend on. He was 11-1 with eight pins last year on junior varsity. Steve Berna (119) and Matt Murphy (112) are also back.
Promising newcomers: Matt Scheuer looks good at 98. Eddie Miller may also wrestle in the lower weights. A pair of sophomores, Dean Ioppolo and Rodney Rappe, are set at 112 and 119. Romeo Logiurato, a junior, could also help in those classes. Cardinal O'Hara transfer Paul Battersby will try it at 138, George Armington is looking good at 155, while the heavyweight may be another junior, Mark Shupard.
Strengths: DiCandilo's the anchor. "The strength is really going to depend on how quickly the kids come along," Nathans said.
Weaknesses: Inexperience and youth are problems.
Outlook: "It's a rebuilding year," Nathans said. "We're hoping for a respectable season. And we don't have quite the schedule we had last year. So that should help." Nathans is also getting a good work effort from his squad.
Coach: Max Rairigh, first year.
Record last year: The Lions were 6-6 overall and finished second in the Shipley School Tournament.
Key wrestlers lost: Ron Fernandez (155) was the most valuable wrestler in the Shipley tourney.
Key returning lettermen: Corey Gremp (145), Andy Middleman (185), and Dusty Donigan (heavyweight) will anchor the team.
Promising newcomers: Freshman Bill Dalusio should help at 98. Paul Wongvasu (105), Kevin Duggan (138), and Stacey Slott (185) will also see action.
Strengths: The Lions look solid at 138, 145, 185, and heavyweight.
Weaknesses: "We're raw," said Rairigh. "We're lacking exeprience."
Outlook: Rairigh, who has coached in the West Chester school system for 14 years, feels a .500 season would be realistic. "A lot of the kids are just learning the basics. They have the right idea but poor techniques. They're working hard though, and hopefully they'll improve."
Coach: Skip Shoemaker, 14th year.
Record last year: The Raiders were 5-4 in the Central League and 11-5 overall. But Radnor did win the Section V tourney.
Key wrestlers lost: Three of the best upper-weight wrestlers in the area graduated in Matt Lee (155), and sectional kings Chris Wetzel (185) and Patrick Davie (heavyweight).
Key returning lettermen: Section champ Dave Iacone (167) returns to anchor Radnor. And Shoemaker still has talent, although it's scattered through the lineup. Blake Spiess (132) was second in the sectional while Joe Costa (119) and Rick Linn (105) both placed third. Ron Braunfeld (98), Mike Walden (138), and Chris Wilson (112, 119) also saw action.
Promising newcomers: Radnor will get help from sophomore John Hellwege (112, 119), Scott Chaddock (126) and Ian Anderson (145). Tom Timperio (155, 167) looks like a good one, according to Shoemaker.
Strengths: Iacone's a nice stopper to have up top. And Timperio will help up there, too. "But it's going to be important for us to get a good start (down low) in our matches this year," Shoemaker said.
Weaknesses: Lack of depth is a problem. "We just have a lack of experienced people," Shoemaker said. "Injuries would be a big problem."
Outlook: "We're going to be counting on different people every match," Shoemaker said. "There's going to be pressure on different people this year." Radnor's rock-solid top, which helped the school to its first-ever section crown, will not be there to save the team if the lower weights falter. Radnor might not be with Springfield (Delco) and Conestoga, but Shoemaker will keep the Raiders near the top.
Coach: Jeff Jacobs, sixth year.
Record last year: Shipley was 8-3 and captured the Delco tourney and its own tournament.
Key wrestlers lost: Captain Sam Rafalin (145) is gone along with Eric Knight (155) and Chet Nevins (185).
Key returning lettermen: Geoff Schnyder was 22-5 last year, won four tournament titles and was named the outstanding matter in the Shipley event. He'll be at 112 or 119 this year. Phil Denny (145, 155) was 11-3 and will be joined in those classes by Lindsay Doering. Froilan Rosqueta (105), Steve Dreibelbis (126), Jeff Johnson (132), Brian Robertson (138), Dan Catherwood (155, 167), John Buten (155, 167) and Christian Moore (heavyweight) are also back. The majority of those grapplers had winning records.
Promising newcomers: Jacobs has some talented newcomers, too. Curtis Rockey had some varsity experience last year and will help at 112 or 119. Kevin Marino (145), Simon Dutton (132), Tom Lloyd (132, 138), Pete Malling (138, 145), Allen Pentz (185), Colin Thomas (167), Josh Marsh (98), Dan Rafalin (105), and Ryan Sheftel (105, 112) should all help.
Strengths: "About 50 percent of the wrestlers have been with me for four or five years, since the seventh grade," Jacobs said. "Plus, we should be able to fill all 12 weight classes, which is something we hadn't been able to do. We have some depth."
Weaknesses: Shipley has spots in the lineup where youth and inexperience may be factors.
Outlook: "We have a 13-match season and I'd really like to get 10 wins," Jacobs said. "We'd also like to get as many wrestlers placing in tournaments as we can." Last year, in five different tourneys, Shipley placed 35 wrestlers with 10 grapplers winning the championship bout. "I think that record is up there with anyone's," Jacobs said.
Coach: John Lute, third year.
Record last year: The Vikings were 1-14 overall.
Key wrestlers lost: Troy Carfioli (112) was 15-8-1 last year.
Key returning lettermen: Lute's top matter is back in Carlos Montes (126), who was 19-7 last season and second in the section. Brian Wilson (112) is a three-year junior performer. Tony Rolli (145, 155) was 19-11. Don Pishock picked up 10 wins "bouncing all over our lineup," Lute said. "That'll probably help him, too. He's a tough, tough kid." Senior Billy Deery (167, 185) is another tough grappler Upper Merion will depend on.
Promising newcomers: Craig Ritter, a transfer from Central Dauphin High, will help at 145. Dave and Matt DeMarzio head a big group at 138 and 145. Brent Lauchle (132) is from a solid wrestling family (his father coached at the University of Pennsylvania for many years) while Carlos Montes' brother Jose may also help at 132. Also watch for Frank Pellegrini and Mark Mittman (98, 105), Mohammad Charmforoosh (112), Pete Kondon (119), and 6-foot, 4- inch, 240-pound sophomore Odin Brutsche at heavyweight.
Strengths: Montes, Deery, Rolli, and Pishock give the Vikes a good foundation. It looks like 112 through 167 will carry Upper Merion.
Weaknesses: There might be a hole at 185. And 105 worries Lute, too.
Outlook: Last year, 98, 167, 185, and heavyweight were almost always washouts for the Vikes. It looks much better in those classes this year. "I think we've got to be better," Lute said. "Just about all the kids are back so we have more experience." But with superpower Quakertown, last year's regional king, now in the Suburban One American Conference, along with the addition of Souderton and Methacton, Lute's grapplers will have their work
cut out for them.
VALLEY FORGE MILITARY ACADEMY
Coach: Mick Lorusso, sixth year.
Record last year: The Trojans were 11-6 as an independent.
Key wrestlers lost: Rick Casson (126) and Brad Johnson (155) will be tough grapplers to replace.
Key returning lettermen: Eric Bocanegra (105) was third in the PAPSWT and also third in the Prep Nationals at Lehigh. He had a 25-7 record last year. Ted Maack (132) placed sixth at Lehigh. Chris Mattonni (105), Todd Kalish (119, 126), Louie Yepez (126, 132), Glenn Baldwin (145), Todd Cascario (155), Rich Burris (185), and Doug Entenman (heavyweight) give the Trojans experience.
Promising newcomers: Geoff Stobart is from Ohio and looks solid at 167. Todd Miller (98) is a tough sophomore.
Strengths: Conditioning has always been a Valley Forge trademark. "Our kids came back in super shape this year," assistant coach Craig Evans said. ''They're really in tip-top condition."
Weaknesses: Valley Forge is young in some weight classes. And the Trojans may be thin at 112 and 119.
Outlook: "I may eat my words," Evans said. "But I think we have a chance to place in the Top 10 at nationals." Bocanegra, Maack, Kalish, Yepez, and Stobart form the heart of a Valley Forge team that should better last year's record.
Coach: John Shaifer, second year
Record last year: The Warriors were 1-5 and finished eighth in the Shipley Tournament.
Key wrestlers lost: Chris Frommeyer (167) graduated. He had placed third in the Tri-County League Touranment.
Key returning lettermen: Corey Brennan (119), the Warriors' best grappler, was 5-1 last year, finished second in the Tri-County tourney and third in the Phelps Tournament. Mike Mellor (126, 132) is also back. "He had a hot and cold year," Shaifer said of Mellor. "But we're looking for good things from him." Jeff Frommeyer also returns.
Promising newcomers: Brad Sotter, who "is really sharp on technique" according to Shaifer, will help at 132 or 138. Joe Cisuelo is added at 112.
Strengths: "We're solid from 112 to 155," Shaifer said.
Weaknesses: Lack of depth up top will be a problem.
Outlook: Shaifer feels he learned much in his first campaign and is eager for the season to start.
"We have a bunch of boys who want to work hard," Shaifer said. "I have an assistant now, Bob Foley, and that'll help, too. I'm highly optimistic."