A year ago, several area wrestling teams took steps toward being elite programs. Expect more of the same in 2012-13 with Madison and Perry having returned to dominance, Edgewood and Pymatuning Valley sustaining a high level of competition and Grand Valley joining the elite last season, several programs are poised to take those same steps this season.
Riverside and Conneaut are poised to join that group with Jefferson and Lakeside hot on their heels and Geneva taking the next steps toward rebuilding a winner.
New coaches will make their debuts in Ashtabula and Saybrook Townships with Wes Cleveland taking over for Greg Stolfer, who had led the Edgewood program for 27 seasons and Jerry Brady taking the helm from Pat Ryan at Lakeside.
Here’s a team-by-team look at the just-started season:
The Spartans will be senior heavy with eight on the roster, six who are returning letterwinners. Three of those seniors qualified for the district tournament and a fourth was an alternate.
Alesha Zappitella (106 pounds), Billy Post (220) and Austin Sherman (152) were the district qualifiers and Russell Wanda (182) was an alternate. Myles Kapen (170) and David West (182) also lettered a year ago. Hoping to get in the mix this year will be Matt Blood (195) and Jay Rusk (195).
“Our strengths are that we have a large senior class and some underclassmen that have shown a lot of potential so far in practice,” coach Matt Bidwell said. We have three returning district qualifiers in Austin, Alesha and Billy and Russell was an alternate.
“I expect those four to go far in the second season and to be joined by a few others. Once we have everyone to their weights, we should also have a very competitive dual-meet team.”
Juniors R.J. Nelson (160) and C.J. Rice also lettered a season ago.
Looking to break through this season are juniors Layth Alama (182), Matt Barrickman (195) and Rodney Hennessey (132) and freshmen Isaiah Ngiraingas (113) and Cole Walker (132).
Bidwell has challeged his kids with an interesting schedule.
“We have a very busy month of December,” he said. “We will be at the Riverside Rumble, which is usually very competitive, the Laker Shaker and the Girard Holiday Duals, to name a few,” he said. “In January, we have some tough duals, tris and quads, as well as the Northeast (Pa.) Tournament.
“Our schedule schedule picks back up in February with a home dual and a quad at Orange before heading to sectionals.”