Tamaqua has a pair of PIAA State qualifiers returning to the line-up this season.
The foundation of the Blue Raiders' roster rests on the broad shoulders of juniors Kolby Mashack and Garth Lakitsky.
Both grapplers are part of prominent Tamaqua mat bloodlines, as their fathers, Jon Mashack (now a volunteer with the Raider program) and Garth Lakitsky, Sr. also were State qualifiers.
Competing at 130 last season, Kolby Mashack was 30-14, placing third at the Schuylkill League Meet, fourth at the District 11 Class AA Meet and fifth at the PIAA Southeast Regional to reach Hershey.
As for Lakitsky, he posted a 36-6 mark at 189-215, winning the Schuylkill League title, placing second at Districts and fifth at Regionals.
According to Tamaqua Coach Jim McCabe, both will be even more formidable this season.
"Kolby spent the whole offseason working diligently to get better on his feet, as well as on top and bottom," said McCabe. "Garth is just absolutely solid, muscle-wise and balance-wise. It's going to be hard for anyone to knock him off his base.
"Having those guys coming back will be a positive for the team. They are good leaders. They not only work hard themselves, they help other kids get better when they are wrestling them."
Tamaqua was 12-12 last season, just missing a spot in the District 11 Class AA Duals.
The Raiders graduated some major contributors, including Schuylkill League champs Justin Miller (27-5) and Ryan Oldt (32-6), as well as Anthony Houser (18-11), Seth Mellor (11-13) and Jarred Folweiler (7-14). Philip Christman (20-15) and Tom Robin (16-19) elected not to come out this season.
Tamaqua will not have a 103-pounder or a regular heavyweight this season. Not fielding a full line-up will be a disadvantage for the Raiders, who lost five matches by six points or less last season.
The Raiders will have either sophomore Roger Taras or junior Josh Guscott at 112, with sophs Kyle Boyer and Derek Drum at 119-125. Soph Brandan Silkowski is pencilled in at 130.
Soph Evan Mashack (Kolby's brother) and soph Josh Bankes are at 135, with Kolby at 140.
The Raiders have three returnees, juniors Josh Turner, Travis Veronsky and Matt Edmonds, from 145-160; the three combined for 14 wins last season.
Junior Robert Craigle is at 171, followed by Dustin Wentz, the team's lone senior, who drops to 189 after going 14-17 at 215 and heavyweight last year. Lakitsky is at 215.
"We have wrestlers who don't care who they wrestle. They wrestle to win, no matter the competition," said McCabe. "We can do some good things with the weights that are filled."
The Raiders will wrestle in tournaments at Bloomsburg, Mount Carmel, Berwick and Hamburg this season.