Glendale optimistic about season with eight letterwinners back|
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
FLINTON - After a couple of tough years, the Glendale wrestling team and third-year head coach Matt Lobb are optimistic about the 2012-13 season.
The Vikings have won just eight dual meets in the past two seasons, going 4-15 a year ago after a 4-16 campaign in Lobb's first year at the helm.
But with eight letterwinners returning and a positive attitude in the room, Lobb thinks his squad can start to turn it around.
"Things are going in a positive direction," he said. "I see it in the practice room. There's a lot more experience and some better athletes in the room. The kids are working hard and really want to try to have some things change this year,"
While the Vikings do have experience, they will still be very young this season.
Four (Ray Carlheim, Justin Hommer, Jon Rojas and Jett Sacolic) of the eight letterwinners are sophomores, but Lobb says the team will lean on that group, especially Sacolic and Hommer.
Sacolic was 17-15 last season with 14 falls wrestling at 106 and 113, and Hommer went 18-18 with 14 falls competing between 132 and 145.
"We have some decent sophomores that were all up as freshmen last year," Lobb said. "It all starts with Jett. He is really looking forward to the season. He lifted a lot in the offseason. He didn't put on a lot of weight, but he gained muscle.
"And Hommer had almost 20 wins last year, and we're looking for a good season from him as well. He did well at 132 at districts."
Neither Carlheim nor Rojas had winning records last season, but each improved over the course of the year and had good offseasons, making their prospects bright.
"Rojas always seemed to end up at the wrong weight last year," Lobb said. "We moved him a lot to get him matches. I think he'll have a good season. He hit the weights hard.
"And Carlheim trimmed down. He might try to get to 195. He only has three years of wrestling experience, but went to PJW states last year."
Lobb also has senior letterwinner Keith Gates back, along with junior letterwinners Hunter Hamilton, Tanner Martz and Cody Pentland.
Also returning to the team after a year off is senior Brandon Johns, who has been a big addition, according to Lobb.
"Brandon is back and he has stepped right into a leadership role," he said."
Glendale will likely have three or four freshmen in the starting lineup each night and has a couple seniors out for the team for the first time. So the Vikings will still have a lot of inexperience.
But Lobb says they make up for that with dedication and work ethic.
"We're young," Lobb said. "We only have one senior that wrestled last year. But there is some good competition in the room. It's refreshing. The kids are more dedicated. We've seen some very physical practices. I think we're building a strong core."
Freshman Tommy Kovach will go at 106, followed by Sacolic at 113 and freshmen Patrick Johnson or Ozzy Cheripka at 120.
Rojas will fill either the 126 or 132 weight class with senior Luke Iraca (126) or freshman Caleb Jenkins (132) also in the lineup. Martz is slated to compete at 138 with Hommer at 145.
Gates is at 152 with either junior Kyle Stewart or sophomore Travis Myers looking to wrestle at 160. Johns and first-year senior Matt Bantly are at the 170-pound class with a trio of competitors in Hamilton, Pentland and senior Jacob Foster looking to fill the spots at 182 and 195.
Carlheim anchors the team at 220 and may get bumped up to heavyweight from time to time.
"We have 18 guys on the roster and no heavyweight, which is different for me," Lobb said
Departed senior Tucker Weakland held the spot last year and qualified for regionals, something Lobb thinks a couple guys on this year's squad could do.
"We would like to have a couple regional qualifiers," he said. "As a team, we want to have a winning record, and I think that is possible with our schedule and the amount of athletes we have.
"We seem to get better as the year goes on each year, and I'm hoping we can pick up from last year and continue to make progress."
Lobb will be assisted by Steve Butler, Mike Hommer and Billy Dubler, who runs the elementary program.
Glendale begins its season Saturday at the Blairsville Tournament.
Roster - Seniors
Matt Bantly, Jacob Foster, *Keith Gates, Luke Iraca, Brandon Johns.
*Hunter Hamilton, *Tanner Martz, *Cody Pentland, Kyle Stewart.
*Ray Carlheim, *Justin Hommer, Travis Myers, *Jon Rojas, *Jett Sacolic.
Ozzy Cheripka, Caleb Jenkins, Patrick Johnson, Tommy Kovach.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
Schedule - December
8-at Blairsville Duals, 9 a.m.; 15-at North/South Duals (Moshannon Valley), 10 a.m.; 18-Southern Huntingdon; 20-Juniata Valley; 22-Quad meeet vs. Bucktail, Northern Cambria and Sugar Valley Rural Charter, 10 a.m.
3-at West Branch; 5-at Indiana Tournament, TBA; 8-Moshannon Valley; 10-at Mount Union; 15-Claysburg-Kimmel; 24-at Marion Center, 7:30 p.m.; 31-at Bellwood-Antis.
2-at Bucktail Tournament, 9 a.m.
Matches begin at 7 p.m. unless noted.