The Jim Thorpe and Panther Valley wrestling squads got their seasons underway on Saturday, competing in the Jim Thorpe Duals.
The Olympians and Panthers had their struggles, but there was definitely some bright spots on the day for both teams.
Panther Valley returns some talent from last season with wrestlers Lenny Ogozalek, Richard Nase, and Rian Shubeck. Those three are all expected to make some postseason noise for the Panthers this season and they didn't disappoint at Jim Thorpe this weekend.
Ogozalek, who wrestles at 126 pounds went 5-0 on the day and even wrestled up a weight on one occasion to help out his team.
"Lenny really wrestled exceptional at this tournament, he was impressive," said Panther Valley coach Tim Robb. "He pretty much handled every kid he wrestled and he just looked really good out there. I was just happy to see him perform so well because he worked so hard in the off-season."
Rian Shubeck at 220 went 5-0 and Richard Nase (195) went 3-0 after missing his first two matches because of taking his SATs.
"Those guys looked really tough and they should be, because they worked really hard to get where there are right now," said Robb. "When you put the kind-of time into something like these kids have you're going to see good results.
Darren Goida (126) also had a nice day for the Panthers, finishing 5-0.
Panther Valley finished 1-4 on the day with their lone win coming against the Olympians 48-18. The Panthers lost to Dieruff 52-21, Conestoga Valley 52-17, Upper Moreland 42-36, and Pottstown 42-33.
"We're not happy with the end result, it was definitely below our expectations," said Robb. "That being said there were a lot of positives to take away from this weekend. Our strategy is to turn our defense into offense and you could see the kids getting that concept in their matches. We just have to get better at transitioning from defense to offense and we will work on that a lot practice this week before our next tournament.
The Panthers will be in action on Saturday at the Penn Manor Tournament.
Jim Thorpe also went 1-4 on the day, but just like the Panthers they showed some success.
Kevan Gentile (106) went 5-0 for the Olympians and Ali Copobianco (132) had a solid day going 3-2.
"Kevan and Ali wrestled really well today," said Jim Thorpe coach Shawn Albert. "Kevan was dominant in every match and Ali is just a really tough competitor. Another kid I want to mention is freshman Anthony Madera (145). He really held his own out there against some top wrestlers. He showed me a lot of things and he has the potential to be something special."
Thorpe got its lone win against Salisbury, winning 39-35. The Olympians lost to Upper Moreland 47-29, Panther Valley 48-18, Dieruff 62-15, and Conestoga Valley 71-6.
"We're a very young team. I would say about 90% of our roster saw their first varsity experience today," said Albert. "I saw some good things though. We wrestled extremely hard and very disciplined, which with a young team is what you want to see. As these younger guys gain more experience they will all improve."