Tom Avsec’s Falcons return 10 letterwinners, eight of whom are seniors. All eight them could break through and earn a spot in Columbus.
Back for Jefferson this season are seniors Ricker Maple (113), Joey Baitt (120), Jerry Scott (132), Joey Babic (145), Troy Stitt (160), Rocky Tripodi (171), Blake Perry (182) and Jeremy Brady (195), junior Logan Platt (132) and sophomore Daniel Gillespie (220).
Joining the party this year are seniors Caleb Harris (185) and Kevin Orvos (195), junior Jacob MacDonald (220) and freshmen Will Gant (152) and Zack Collios (152).
In order for the Falcons to reach their potential, They must stay on task.
“(We have to) stay healthy and maintain weight and work hard in the room and in competitions,” Avsec said.
Jefferson will compete for the All-American Conference championship for the first time.
“(This is our) first year in the AAC,” Avsec said. “(We’re) looking forward to being in a league again.
“There are some great teams in the AAC and we are excited about the upcoming season.”
Jerry Brady might be the new Lakeside coach, but he is only new to those outside the program. Brady has led the Lakeside Middle School the last several seasons and has built quite a relationship with his young grapplers during that time. In that time, he has aslo put together a highly success group of young men.
He will now try and continue that success on the varsity level with a 11 returning lettermen, including state qualifier Chuck Morgan (285).
Also back are seniors Otis Conel (182) and Chris Tatters (138), juniors Kyle Conel (195) and Tyler Vines (113) and sophomores
Keith Griffin (132), Josh Perry (119), Joe Kangas (145), Brandon Modic (220), Justin Wheeler (170) and Bryan Woissol (152).
Those experienced wrestlers must lead the way for the Dragons.
“We are looking for our upperclassmen to come through when it counts in tournaments and dual meets,” Brady said. “Strong leadership from Morgan, the Conel brothers and Tyler Vines is important.”
The reason Brady has won with his troops in the last few seasons is he has built them from the ground up, preaching the fundamentals and drilling them into his guys. That part of his approach will remain very much intact.
“Basics, basics, basics — we are focusing on basic wrestling — on our feet — hand fighting/head fighting and attacking, getting off the bottom and scoring with turns and pins from the top position,” he said.
No fewer than 13 sophomores and freshmen will take to the wrestling room and will need a bit of seasoning before the schedule hits March.
“Getting our young guys the mat time during the season so they can compete at the end of the year when it counts,” Brady said.
Brady understands his program cannot be successful if it isn’t built from the ground up and has done what he can to ensure that his program can be sustained for years to come.
“The PAC is extremely tough to compete in for Lakeside,” Brady said. “We are trying to beef up our numbers at the youth and junior high levels so that we are not ‘starting over’ every few years. PAC teams are constantly feeding their high school programs with experienced wrestlers so they never miss a beat and they are tough every year. Over 50 youth members and 40-plus junior high members are currently in our programs.
“We think that we are doing the right things and I think in time it will pay off. We have a solid core of group of kids that have gone to camps and stayed on the mats during the offseason. We are expecting to climb a couple rungs up the ladder in the PAC this year.”
That said, a number of the current Dragons can compete for conference titles.
“Chuck Morgan and Kyle Conel are going to be very hard to beat at all levels this year,” Brady said. “Otis Conel, Tyler Vines, Chris Tatters along with Kangas, Brady, Modic and Griffin should be solid this year.
“One thing for sure is that these kids will be ready to go any time they step on the mat.”