The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

December 2, 2013

Wrestling, 2013-14: Matters of the mat

Youth will be served during season

There’s always something exciting about the start of a new wrestling season.

It’s fun to try and anticipate which young men who fell just short of their goals will take that step from being really good to being great.

There’s some intrigue to how each coach will manipulate his lineup for key dual matches or big tournaments.

More than anything, it’s enjoyable to watch the younger wrestlers mature over the course of a winter.

The 2013-14 season will be quite eventful for the fans who most enjoy the latter as there is a considerable youth movement taking place across the area.

Among those looking to take that last step toward greatness are a pair of 195-pound monsters in Kyle Conel of Lakeside and Glenn Zaller of Grand Valley. Conel was second at the Division I state tournament a year ago and Zaller has twice been to the Division III state tournament and is seeking a spot at or near the top of the podium in Columbus.

Here’s a team-by-team look at the new season:

 

Conneaut

Coach Matt Bidwell has an interesting situation developing in his team’s dynamic. The Spartans return five lettermen and a trio of district qualifiers in seniors C.J. Rice (152 pounds), R.J. Nelson (182), Matt Barrickman (heavyweight) and Joe Rozalski (heavyweight) and sophomore Isaiah Ngiraingas (120). Rice, Nelson and Ngiraingas all qualified for the district tournament a season ago.

The Spartans also welcome seven freshmen to the fold.

“We are a very young team this year so we need our upperclassmen to step up as leaders and help push the younger guys,” Bidwell said. “Individually, we have some very solid wrestlers spread throughout the lineup with Isaiah at 120, Rice at 152 and R.J. at 182. I am expecting our other veterans, Rozalski and Barrickman, to be successful at our upper weights.”

Senior Nathan Vichosky (138) and juniors Scott North (182) and Cory Maldonado (160) will step into roles with the varsity this year. Freshmen James Jenkins (132), Clay Fertig (138), Nathan Zahler (106), Matt Conley (106), Vinny Nolan, Justin Mason and Emma Curry (126) will look to make an impact on the lineup.

“In order to have success as a team, I expect strong performances from our freshmen, Mason, Nolan and Fertig, and our less experienced guys to be aggressive and not get pinned.”

For the first time in years, the Spartans will compete as part of a league, as they join the Eastern Ohio Wrestling League.

“This is our first year in the EOWL, so we are only participating in the tournament at the end of the year, but there are a lot of good teams in the league and I am excited to get into such a competitive league and tournament later in the season. It really gives our kids something to work for and to look forward to.”

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