The wrestling landscape of the Mountain Valley Conference changed last year in just one match.
With Pleasant Valley and Stroudsburg squaring off in the final conference game of the season, the Mounties knocked off the Bears amidst some controversy to put an end to the Bears' run of six straight conference titles. This year head coach Mark Getz and his mat-men are looking to take back the hardware.
"Winning the MVC title is one of our goals this year," said Getz. "Losing the MVC title last year has made our kids work harder this summer and in the room this year. Still, we are taking it one tournament and one match at a time. Our first focus is winning the Pleasant Valley Invitational (in early December) and then doing well at Reno (in mid-December)."
The departure of the program's all-time wins leader in Matt Yanovich leaves Jordan Toledo as the unquestioned leader of this year's team. In fact, Getz commended Toledo for his work ethic in front of the whole team this past week as Toledo was extremely exhausted after practice.
Toledo, who wrestled at the 125 and 130 weight classes last season, posted a 33-7 overall record and won gold at both districts and regionals at 125. He also placed fourth at the Powerade Tournament and was the team's lone state qualifier.
"Throughout the post-season last year Jordan wrestled with a torn labrum," admitted Getz. "He had shoulder surgery this off-season and is doing well so far. He seems very focused and has been wrestling well in the late-summer and fall tournaments. Because of that, I think Jordan has the talent to be a contender for a state title at 125 or 130."
Also returning for the Bears is a core of 20-win wrestlers. Sophomores Ernie Klingel (103, 20-4) and Mike Dalhstrom (112, 27-11), along with seniors Mike Pokrinchak (130-140, 24-11) and Ryan Sokolowski (140, 22-13) are looking to better their respective records in 2009-10. All of them but Sokolowski qualified for regionals.
Jake Chamberlain, another senior, was the sixth Bear to qualify for regionals last year with an 8-4 record at the 140-145 weight classes.
"Besides Toledo, Dalhstrom, Pokrinchak and Sokolowski we also have Ernest Klingel and Jake Chamberlain back - both of whom qualified for regionals," said Getz. "All six of those wrestlers are a great core to build around and I expect them all to be leaders on the team this year.
"Cameron Kroemelbein, another senior, will be a leader in the upper weights. He wrestled for us his freshman and sophomore years, but wrestled for Belvidere, NJ last year and was 28-6."
For years Pleasant Valley has been solid throughout their light and middle weights, but struggled with their heavyweights. It didn't hurt them as much as one might think, since the Bears had a number of their matches locked up (depending on the starting weight class) by the time the heavy weights stepped on the mat.
Some underclassmen that are expected to make a splash include Junior High District runner-up Sean Bianco (103), Hunter Deihl and Bret Gearhart.
"As long as we can stay healthy I think we will do well," Getz said. "We don't have a lot of depth, so if someone were to get injured that might hurt our chances. But of we can stay healthy then I expect us to be fighting for the MVC once again."