"I've never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline. I firmly believe that any man's finest hour-this greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle."
That statement by Vince Lombardi is what this year's Tamaqua wrestling squad is all about. The Raiders have put in the time and hardwork this off-season to make a significant mark in the Schuylkill League wrestling ranks in 2012-13.
"This off-season we put in a ton of work and the kids really put the time in," said first year head coach Jon Mashack. "We primarily focused on club wrestling and getting some of our guys into national tournaments against some really good competition. We had some guys compete at the Disney Duals in the off-season down in Orlando with a club team out of the Reading area and our guys did well down there. The key is to keep building off of those type of experiences. Next season, I want to get more kids involved in that type of wrestling and I'm trying to get our guys to do a little free style and greco wrestling as well."
One of the Raiders that competed at the Disney Duals was junior Colin Mashack. Mashack had quite a run down in Orlando going undefeated until the final round where he lost to a PIAA state medalist from District 1. Mashack is expected to have a great year in 2012-13 after his stellar sophomore campaign where he went 40-5, finishing second in districts, third in regionals, and sixth at states.
"Our biggest talent returning is definitely Colin at the 113 pound weight," said coach Mashack. "He was a sixth place finisher at the state level last season and has had a real strong off-season. Colin is ready to go and we expect him to lead us."
Dylan Rynkiewicz is another Raider grappler that is looking to take the next step this season. Rynkiewicz, who wrestled at the 126, 132, and 138 pound weight class went 24-12, finishing sixth at districts.
Tamaqua football standout Nolan Ziegler is returning from a two year layoff and will be counted on to win some matches for the Raiders. Coach Mashack hopes Ziegler's physicality along with his athleticism can earn him quite a few wins in the regular and postseason.
Finally, Luke Matsago, who finished with a 15-10 record last season will wrestle in the 285-pound weight class. Matsago was also a Raider gridiron standout and is expected to garner some accolades on the mat once competition opens.
Head man Jon Mashack, who is in his first year at the helm of the Tamaqua wrestling program isn't new to the sport or the Tamaqua grapplers. Mashack has been a part of the program for the last 16 years and felt it was a no brainer when Jim McCabe stepped down after last season. Mashack's approach to winning wrestling is simple. Work hard, get better in the off-season, and have a good grasp of the fundamentals.
"It's immensely important to have a sound understanding of the basics and stress the importance of stance and position," said Mashack. "Drilling hard is just as vital because it brings out the best in a wrestler and if you look at successful programs all throughout junior high to college they all do the basics extremely well. That's what we're shooting for here at Tamaqua. Finally, I want to build a great team atmosphere as well so the kids can build a comradery with eachother and depend on eachother so the program as a whole keeps moving in the right direction."