Wrestlers ready to begin their season
The 2011-12 wrestling season was kind of a transition year for most area teams, even perennial power Line Mountain, which for the first time in several years did not have an odds-on candidate for a state title.
Even so, the Eagles sent three wrestlers to the state tournament, and two of them are back to lead a team which may not have a lot of depth but will certainly have talent. As for other area teams, it looks like another season of taking steps to get to an ultimate destination.
Mount Carmel lost some fine senior talent, including state qualifiers Brett Przekop (eighth) and Meyrick Lamb, but has a good nucleus of veterans back. Shamokin is in the second year of major rebuilding and should be better than last year, but still some way
off from where the Indians want to be. Southern Columbia has a solid group of veterans, but will have depth issues, and North Schuylkill has some returning talent and a new head coach in Chris Edwards, who takes over for Dave Brown.
Seth Lansberry tops the returning class at Line Mountain. The senior took seventh in the state at 132 last season, and probably could have cracked the top three or four with a good tournament. He was 41-6 on the season and takes a 99-32 career record into this season.
Sophomore Cameron Newman also qualified for the state meet, going 28-17 as a freshman at 106 with a good second half of the season. Erik Smeltz and Britton Heim were each regional qualifiers and Blake Carl was a district qualifier. Junior Colton Zimmerman, who was 17-14 as a freshman but missed his sophomore season with an injury, is back and should be a big help.
Mount Carmel looks a lot like the way the Red Tornadoes have been for a few years now. Ninth-year head coach Randy Reidler has some returning starters and should be competitive with most teams on the schedule, but the Red Tornadoes need some of those returnees to take the next step and be leaders, guys they can depend on for wins most of the time.
"This should make for another rebuilding year but with some quality wrestlers in the making," head coach Reidler says.
Seniors Tom Stief, Tyler Wariki, Danny Fletcher, Cristen Howerter and Seth Stablewski, juniors Troy Tafner and Zeke Zsido, and sophomore Blake Panko will bring experience to the lineup.
Edwards has Tanner Dean (33-12) and Auston Hummel (27-10) back at North Schuylkill, along with Jordan Shinkus, who was 23-7 as a sophomore and sixth in District 11 but did not wrestle as a junior, but the Spartans may take some time before they can fill out the rest of the lineup.
Shamokin head coach Todd Hockenbroch knew the Indians were going to take some lumps last season and they certainly did, but he seems a bit more upbeat this year.
"This is a very exciting year for us," Hockenbroch says. "We have a lot of kids out this year. We are returning two district qualifiers and 10 varsity starters. The team is working hard every day to become better wrestlers. We have great leadership in our senior class. The team is looking forward to competing and seeing how much better they can get as the year progresses."
Seniors Mike Yucha and Luis Martinez, and juniors Zach Biddiscombe and Zach Tillett will be counted on to lead the Indians.
At Southern Columbia, head coach Jerry Marks' team will be young overall but have some solid returning talent, including sophomores Kent Lane, a state qualifier as a freshman, and Trent Donlan, who was 20-9. Senior Jake Becker just missed a trip to the state meet with a fourth-place finish at the regional meet.
"Low numbers will be an issue again this year," Marks says. "We will not be able to fill all weight classes. As far as the division (Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference Division III) goes, Muncy should be the team to beat. Benton has moved to Division II and Bloomsburg is now in Division III."