A league title in wrestling has eluded Lehighton wrestling since the early days of the old Centennial League in the 1970s.
This season, Coach Floyd Brown and the Lehighton Indian grapplers have their sites set on ending that dryspell and capturing a Mountain Valley Conference championship..
"The league will be fairly balanced this year," Brown said. "I think we can definitely challenge. Our goal is to keep getting better and put ourselves in position for a conference title."
Defending champs Stroudsburg and consistent power Pleasant Valley are sure to be the favorites. Lehighton, which lost only two starters (Brett Flexer and Danny Farole) returns a lot of fire power in the upper weights.
"The upper weights are where we have experience back," Brown said. "From 140 on up we have kids returning, including four seniors."
Anchoring the lineup is the big man, Briar Stern. A regional finalist, Stern followed in the family line in reaching Hershey. Off to a solid start, a return trip is well within reach.
"He seems very focused this year and he's been a good leader in the room," Brown said. "I expect a return trip to Hershey this year where I think he can medal."
David Lucykanish (152) is on track to be only the third 100-match winner in school history. Needing 22 wins to reach that mark, Lucykanish is looking to break out of Districts. In each of the last two years, Lucykanish placed at the District tournament but not high enough to move on.
"Hopefully this is the year he can put it all together," Brown said. "I feel he could be a state medal winner if he can keep getting better and stay healthy throughout the year."
Last season, Matt Dorward (189) had 18 wins with a slow start. He will be looking to start off a bit stronger and make more of an impact in 2010.
Sophomores Anthony Farole (145) and Zach Coleman (145) provide experience in the middle.
"In the upper weight classes we have some depth and when the weights move late rin the year we'll be able to get some of those kids in," Brown said.
One of those weight classes will be at 171 where two wrestlers, John Mertz and Mike Balliet, will duke it out for the spot.
Nate Black and Jacen Nalesnik will be vying for the 215 pound slot. The only spot in the upper weight classes where a newcomer seems certain to be is at 160 where Mitch Moyer, a junior high place winner, should be ready to fill in.
The story changes for the Indians down in the lower weights.
"Our season depends on injuries. If we stay injury free we'll be in good shape." Brown said. "If the injury bug bites in the lower weight classes that will have a major impact on our season."
Two wrestlers with experience, Jake Hoats (103) and Jeremy Gornick (119), are going to have to hold the fort until the rest gain the necessary experience.
After spending time behind Flexer, Matt Schaeffer (125) will get his chance at a regular spot in the lineup.
Jason McEvoy, a solid wrestler that took last year off will grab the spot at 112. Zach Kerschner (140) and Brian Piekarski (135) will have to make a swift transition to the varisty level.
"We do have a little experience at 103 and 119.The other couple weight classes are going to have step in and make a impact right away," Brown said.