Wallenpaupack Area grapplers set for an exciting season
An interesting mix of talent is hitting the mats this season for the Wallenpaupack Area varsity wrestling squad.
While three out of the eight returning grapplers placed third or higher at the District Two Class AAA championships last season, 27 members of the team are new to the scene.
Although nine are freshman that moved up from the junior high program, the remainder are just discovering the sport.
“Our horses are legit,” said Head Coach Steve Krushnowski. “But, we have a lot of freshmen and green kids that came out this year.”
Some of those new to the mats include Buckhorn running backs Joe Inguilli and Nick Ruggieri. Like many football players, they’ve added wrestling to their resume for the conditioning, footwork, and to get tougher.
At the other end of the spectrum are the contenders.
Back to give the Buckhorns both leadership and firepower are junior Ryan Hartman who placed third at last winter’s district meet at 145 lbs.
Senior Dave DeGroat, wrestling at 285 lbs, came in second-place last year, while junior Tyler Neglia also captured a silver at 182 lbs and then went on to score a fourth-place finish at the Northeast Regionals.
Seniors Anthony Krug, at 152 lbs, and Brennan Hannon, one of the squads’ lighter weights, are also hoping to make an impact on the team as well.
“We have a strong team,” said DeGroat. “We’re bringing a lot of guys back in key positions and we have a lot of new kids too.”
“We have a couple of young guys like freshmen Sam Kier and Dylan Hartman that are filling in and picking things up quickly,” said Krug.
“It’s nice to have a couple of role models in the mix, too.”
Hartman, according to Krushnowski, has great moves and is very physical. He also describes the plebe’s style as “slimy.”
“He gets two points here and another there,” said Krush, “Then before you know it he’s out to a huge lead that another kid just isn’t going to come back from.”
Of course, family tradition also plays into Hartman’s skill. There’s plenty of district medals already hanging around his house courtesy of his older brothers, who have undoubtedly helped hone his abilities.
Kier, too, looks promising to Krush. The Buckhorns coach describes him as a tough kid and a good gamer.
“Some kids do great at practice but can’t ramp it up in a match, Kier can,” Krushnowski said.
“He gets better when he competes. The sky’s the limit on where he can go, depending on the class.”
Even though the Purple & White went 0-4 in Division I action last winter, they faired much better overall, closing with a 14-7 record, which according to Coach Krush, went better than expected.
Still in all, the winless league tally shut them out of the district team meet.
“The league is the same as last year,” Krushnowski said. “Our goal is to place in the league, district, and region this year.
“Delaware Valley will be tough again in the division and Hazleton will be rough at the district level.”
The Bucks are kicking things off this weekend at the Ram Duals in Wyalusing and then are home on Dec. 12 when they host Honesdale at 6:45pm. On Dec. 16 when the Buckhorns host the Lackawanna League meet.
“We like hosting that tournament,” Krushnowski said. “It’s good to have a home meet that early in the pre-season.
“We don’t have to travel so it’s always nice when we can all sleep in our own beds and the get to the mats.
“We’ll wrestle everyone we can find a spot for, so it’s a good time for our kids to get some action.”
Paupack heads to Scranton on Dec. 19 and Coughlin on the Dec. 22. They close out the month at the Bethlehem Catholic Tournament on Dec. 28-29.