Panther Valley wrestling coach Tim Robb knew that this season would be different for his team. Not because of changes within his squad, but because of the competition the Panthers would be facing in the Schuylkill League.
For this season, Panther Valley has moved up from Division 2 in the Schuylkill League to Division 1, which means a bump up in competition for the Panthers.
Robb accepted the move to Division 2 after being approached by league officials with the offer. Robb had the option to remain in Division 2 but made it clear he wanted to make the jump.
"They came to us and asked us if we wanted to be in Division 2 and I said no," Robb said.
"We chose to be there (Division 1). We wanted to be there."
Even though his team is young, Robb felt this move gave the program the best chance to improve and achieve long-term goals.
"We have young, talented kids and I don't think they're gonna get better in Division 2," Robb said. "I think they needed to be challenged.
"They've stepped up. I told them it was going to be tougher and that our record might suffer a little bit, but we're gonna go out and wrestle the better teams."
So far, the team has responded with an 8-4 overall record, which includes Schuylkill League Division 1 victories against Pottsville and Pine Grove.
Panther Valley has more than held its own this season and Robb has no plans of moving back down to Division 2 anytime soon.
"We're right in the mix," Robb said. "We'll wrestle with anybody right now."
Robb admits the success has come sooner than expected, but he's more than willing to adapt.
"I thought we were a year away, but they don't think so," Robb said. "They're into it. They think they can beat anybody.
"If they're gonna think they can win then I'm gonna coach them that way."
Robb believes the transition has been smooth because the team is willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to achieve success.
"I'm really happy with how things are going," said Robb. "We've still got a lot of work to do.
"But I'm happy with the work ethic and I'm happy with the participation. They all come and they're there for everything."
According to Robb, the leadership is something that is prominent throughout the team, with everyone playing a role.
"Leadership is kind of a program-wide thing," said Robb. "On different days there could be different leaders.
"It's the whole group, not just one individual."