Wood making strides on mat

Archbishop Wood wrestling coach Vic Stanley demonstrates a move during practice.
Archbishop Wood wrestling coach Vic Stanley demonstrates a move during practice. (LOU RABITO / Staff)
Posted: February 01, 2014

When Vic Stanley returned to coaching wrestling at Archbishop Wood a season ago, the wheels had already been set into motion.

"Three years ago there were seven kids on the team," Stanley said. "Rumor had it that they were talking about dropping the sport. This year, we have 27 kids on the team. This improvement was due to the fact that [coach emeritus] Steve Peters and [assistant coaches] Chris Meister, Kevin Reilly, Erich Meister, and all of those guys stepped up three years ago. . . . They stepped up and saved the program."

Stanley came out of his latest retirement to coach his former squad (1994-97) and help aid the revival of a Wood program that had already taken the necessary strides to rise from the Catholic League ashes.

Stanley and his staff guided a 2012-13 Wood team loaded with youth and inexperience to a 4-11 record and a sixth-place finish in the Catholic League.

This season, though, had a different look and feel as the Vikings stormed through their first-half schedule with wins in their first seven matches, including league victories against Bonner-Prendergast, Bishop McDevitt, and Cardinal O'Hara.

Five losses in as many opportunities in the Denver Duals on Jan. 18 brought the Vikings' record back to earth, but a 9-6 mark to date this season, including a 5-1 league performance, has put Wood back on the District 12 map.

Junior Chad Haegele (113) has helped lead the renaissance with a 19-1 record. Freshman Chad Sheenan (160) is impressing in his rookie year, going 16-3, with 11 wins coming by fall.

"They're a team now, whereas before when we were first getting together [last season], they were 20 individuals," Stanley said. "We're a team."

Stanley said some of Wood's sweeter victories this season have come against those schools that last year's group couldn't best, including the wins over Cardinal O'Hara (71-3) and Bishop McDevitt (40-24), two teams that Wood fell to last season by scores of 44-23 and 52-13, respectively.

"We're improving," Stanley said. "We've avenged losses from the previous year, and we've placed higher in tournaments."

Wood's goal of winning the Catholic League, though, will have to wait at least one more season, as La Salle overwhelmed the Vikings in the league semifinals with a 62-11 victory.

"I can't remember the last time that Archbishop Wood won the Philadelphia Catholic League," Stanley said. "That's one of our goals. . . . We also want to win District 12 and take as many kids to states as possible."

What's on tap. The PIAA District 1 Class AAA duals tournament kicks back into gear at Upper Dublin this weekend, with the quarterfinals and semifinals slated to start at 6 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, respectively.

The final will start Saturday at 3 p.m.

One quarterfinal pits No. 4 seed Garnet Valley (17-1, 9-0 Central League) against an undefeated Council Rock South team (10-0, 5-0 Suburban One National), the fifth seed.

Senior John Dambro (170) leads the Jaguars with a 22-3 record. Senior Mike Marino (126) likely will put his 21-5 record on the line against Council Rock South senior Dan Martoccio (17-5).

Another interesting matchup in the 120 weight class could be a freshman battle of Garnet Valley's Matt Marino (16-3) and Council Rock South's Zack Trampe (24-7).


aparent@philly.com

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