Warriors return full squad|
Thursday, November 29, 2012
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
ALLPORT - With 13 letterwinners returning from a team that won 26 dual meets a season ago, West Branch is poised for a highly successful 2012-13 campaign.
The Warriors were 26-6 last year, finishing second in the District 6 Class AA Team Dual Tournament and qualified for the PIAA team duals where they went 1-2.
"We definitely have some high expectations," fifth-year head coach Jason Bainey said. "With 13 letterwinners back from a team that made it to Hershey last year, won a match and finished 10th in the state ... there are definitely expectations coming into this year."
Bainey says the group of 19 kids room are aiming to get back to the state team dual tournament, but has made it clear it will take a lot of hard work to achieve that goal.
"They're a loose group of kids. They have fun. And they're a tight-knit group," Bainey said. "This year, we're pushing them a lot harder. They got the feel of what Hershey is like, but to get back there will be tough. There are 26 teams in District 6, Double-A and we know people won't be looking past us this year. They are going to be gunning for us.
"Huntingdon and Blairsville have nice teams and Mount Union is always tough. (District 6) only takes two teams to Hershey, and that's the kids' goal. But the coaching staff has told them, ‘we're not guaranteed anything'. It will be a shame not to make it, but at the same time no one is going to lay down for us either."
The Warriors welcome back nine kids that had at least 24 wins a season ago, and they will undoubtedly be the blocks the Warriors build around.
Seniors Abe Albright (32-9), J.P. Hayles (31-14) and Lucas Kristofits (30-11) led West Branch in wins with Hayles and Kristofits both making it to the Southwest Regional Tournament.
Juniors Parker Bumbarger (29-11), Wyatt Sankey (27-12), and Morgan Selepack (27-12), sophomores Buzzy Maines (28-15) and Luke Slippey (27-13) and senior Trey English (24-16) also had outstanding seasons for West Branch.
Senior Dustin Deliman and juniors Jake Brown, Kaleb Quick and Robert Pearce also lettered for the Warriors and will help give the West Branch lineup all kinds of balance.
"I've been involved with wrestling for 30 years and I've watched a lot," Bainey said. "And to see the kind of balance we have is pretty nice. Every kid on this team should be over .500 this year."
That includes freshmen Joey Couteret, Clayton Green and Vince McDowell, who Bainey promoted from the junior high squad and expects to make a solid contribution from Day 1.
"We brought three freshmen up this year, and I just don't bring a kid up to fill a weight. I don't do that," Bainey said. "I brought them up because I think all three can contribute and help the team tremendously.
"There's not a weak weight in the lineup. It's going to be tough to lose many dual meets because we are going to be so balanced."
Couteret is penciled in at 106 with Sankey and Deliman battling for the starting spot at 113. Brown looks to go at 120, while Albright will likely start the season at 126 with Quick also at the weight.
Hayles and Bumbarger anchor the middleweights at 132 and 138, respectively, while Green looks to get time at 145 and Slippey will compete at 152.
Sophomores Conor Myers and Kris Smeal will eliminate at 160, while Kristofits will start at 170.
Pearce and McDowell are competing at 182, with English and Senior Ariel Antonetti at 195. English is currently out while he recovers from a medical procedure.
Maines and Selepack anchor the upper weights at 220 and 285.
"Our lineup is going to change a lot throughout the year," Bainey said. "I can almost guarantee that. I'd be surprised if our lineup was ever the same from Dec. 11 to February. It's going to change a lot. That's the key to having a successful program - having backups that you can plug in and feel comfortable with.
"There are a few kids like Deliman and Jake Brown who didn't wrestle much last year, but they stuck it out and they're back and hoping they can both get in the lineup this year."
Whatever the Warrior lineup is, it will face an upgraded schedule with a trip to the Clearfield Bison duals and a home date with perennial power Brookville on the docket.
"We upped our schedule quite a bit this year," Bainey said. "We got out of the Richland Duals and entered the Clearfield Duals. It's close to home and there are a lot of Triple-A schools in it that are very tough competition.
"We also put Brookville on our schedule, and they finished third in the state last year and they're ranked third again this year."
The reason for the schedule additions?
"To prepare the kids to districts and regionals," Bainey said. "We want to get kids to states individually. Last year we went as a team, and that was nice. But we only got two guys to regionals and didn't advance any to states. That's the ultimate goal ... to be a state champion. It's an individual sport when it gets in to February.
"So we wanted to get the tough competition at the Clearfield Duals, and we wanted to wrestle Brookville to see where our guys are at. It's something the coaches got together and talked about, and we thought it was something we needed to do. It might hurt our dual meet record a little bit, but it's also going to better us for March."
As for kids with the potential to make it to Hershey and possibly bring home a medal, Bainey says any number of Warriors fit the description.
"It's hard to single any one of them out because they're all good kids," he said. "I always tell people we don't have any studs, but we have balance. We have 18 or 19 kids that are very good wrestlers and they are here to learn and want to get better. Could some of them surprise us come districts, regionals and states? Definitely. I think we have a chance to get eight or 10 kids to regionals and possibly five or six to Hershey.
"But District 6 Double-A is tough. There are 26 teams and they only take four to regionals. You just never know what you're going to get come that time of the year. We're going to work a lot harder this year. We're going to be in better shape so we win matches in the third. With our tougher schedule, we're preparing the kids for the end of the year."
To help the kids prepare, Bainey has put together quite a coaching staff.
His varsity assistant is Steve Sudik, with volunteer coaches Davey Williamson, Jared Ricotta and Rob English also in the room. Junior high coaches Kevin Butler and Scott Slippey also help out.
Ricotta and English each won PIAA titles as Warriors and the two of them along with Bainey all had over 100 wins during their high school days.
"We have Jared and Robbie in here just about every day working out," said Bainey. "Davey is one of those guys that follows everything from junior high to college. He's a great mind of the sport. We're surrounded by a lot of wrestling people.
"To have the kind of staff we have gives the kids something to look forward to. There are two state champs in the room with them every time they go out there. It's neat for the kids to see that and it gives then something to shoot for.
"Our coaching staff is a big part of our success. We have coaches that can go grab a couple kids and work one-on-one. When you have one coach and two kids, that's great. We have a close staff and the kids enjoy it I think because we're younger and they can relate to us."
As for team goals, it's simple - win as much as possible and advance as far as possible.
"We just want to win a lot of dual meets and get some kids to Hershey and win some individual medals," Bainey said. "We're not that deep. We only have 19 kids. Academics or injuries could always play a factor. If we stay healthy, we should have a very nice team.
"We have yet to get a guy to Hershey since I've been here, and that's what we want to do. But it's tough with District 6 having so many teams and the Southwest Regional being probably the toughest one out there. But we'll keep plugging away."
West Branch opens its season Dec. 11, playing host to Curwensville.
Ariel Antonetti, *Abe Albright, *Dustin Deliman, *Trey English, *J.P. Hayles, *Lucas Kristofits.
*Jake Brown, *Parker Bumbarger, *Robert Pearce, *Kaleb Quick, *Wyatt Sankey, *Morgan Selepack.
*Buzzy Maines, Conor Myers, *Luke Slippey, Kris Smeal.
Joey Couteret, Clayton Green, Vince McDowell.
11-Curwensville; 14-at Bellwood-Antis; 15-North/South Duals at Moshannon Valley, 10 a.m.; 18-at Moshannon Valley; 20-at Mount Union.
3-Glendale; 5-at Bloody Run Duals, 9 a.m.; 8-Juniata Valley; 10-at Southern Huntingdon; 16-Brookville; 19-at Clearfield Bison Duals, 8:30 a.m.; 22-at Claysburg-Kimmel; 24-Penns Valley; 25-26-at Thomas Tournament, 10:30 a.m.
15-16-at District 6 Tournament, TBA.
1-2-at Southwest Regional Tournament, TBA; 7-9-at PIAA Tournament, TBA.
Matches start at 7 p.m. unless noted