It's not an easy task finding first-year head coach Dave Lavin in the Palmerton High wrestling room. To say he looks like one of the boys would be an understatement.
Lavin, who hails from Mamaroneck, New York, wrestled in high school and placed fourth in the New York Section I State Championships and continued his career and education at Muhlenberg College and wrestled at 165 pounds and was a captain his senior year.
He inherits a program from Rick Petersen, who stepped down after last season and finished the Colonial League season with a 5-5 record. Lavin will also have to replace Kevin Booth, Darin George, James Hunsicker and Jeff Whitefield who all graduated.
"The hardest thing to do is get high school guys to wrestle at the right weight and take their lumps," said Lavin. "We've got some good guys on the junior high team so if we can keep that up, hopefully we'll be able to build from that."
Look at this year's squad, Lavin hopes to build it around senior co-captains Dan Costenbader and Michael Englert, who return the most varsity experience and pack a 1-2 punch in the middle of the lineup. Englert enters the season with a career record of 70-35 coming off a 23-13 junior season. Costenbader, who spent a year in Texas as a freshman, has a career record of 45-24 and was 21-10 last year.
Once again the Bombers will have to forfeit three weight classes (103, 295 and heavyweight).
Lavin has senior Cody Garner and Shane Grohotolski battling at 112 and hopes to get at least a .500 record from either at that spot.
Sam Oberlander, who had over 20 wins last year or freshman Dillon Massington will get the call at 119. Lavin expects a lot out of Overlander who he hopes to see at least reach regionals.
At 125, sophomore Dallas Miata will get the call and at 130, Cody Grohotolski will fill the bill and Lavin hopes to see him break 20 wins this year.
Tony Gardo, a freshman, will start off at 140 and then settle in at 135 in what will be a learning experience.
Then Costenbader at 140 and 145, along with Englert at 145 and 152 man the middle.
"Costenbader's a great athlete and can make it through regionals and out to states if he wrestles up to his capability," said Lavin. "Mike probably could have made it to states last year, but suffered a rib injury so I expect him to be one of the leaders in wins."
Travis Verzino will be at 165 and is a newcomer, but is very strong.
And at 172, it will be either Kawika Mook or Zach Brett. Both will be gaining experience and later on Jared Kleintop will be back in the lineup there after he returns from a football injury.
At 189, Kane Kralik is a real strong kid when he wrestles to his potential, Kralik was 24-7 on the junior high level last year.
"We'll use a couple of other guys to fill in the lineup when we can," said Lavin.
Mike Englert and Erick Kresge are back as assistant and junior high coaches.