The Jim Thorpe wrestling team will enter the 2011-12 season with a very inexperienced lineup.
Don't expect head coach Shawn Albert and his Olympian grapplers to let that slow them down, however.
"This team, this year, we're very inexperienced," Albert said. "We're young, which is fine, and we know it. Th good news is that this team, compared to last year's team, has a lot more discipline. They love to work hard.
"They want to win. They want to get better. The positive results from that type of attitude are already showing."
With the loss of 135-pounder Adam Rex (14-20), 130-pounder James Denny (14-19), 145-pounder Justin Mazzella (24-9, third at leagues), 152-pounder Jon Fritz (32-8, third at leagues) and 215-pounder Tyler Mangold ((11-6) to graduation, the Olympians do take quite a hit. Albert knows that will leave him with some big holes to fill..
"We have an open door policy [with the program]," Albert said. "If we can fill it, we're going to fill it."
Seniors James Boyle (160), Akeeno Steward (160), Mike Munoz (160); juniors Brian Ohl (126), Avery Ziegenfuss (132), Ryan Ruberto (285) and Connor Rumley (285); and sophomore Mike Helmer (138) will add some experience to the line-up.
What Albert will be looking for is individual improvement from the returnees as all of them except Ohl had a losing record a year ago. Albert is hoping the individual improvement will help the Olympians improve on their 5-11 team record from last season.
Ohl will be counted on to spearhead the middle weight classes, which the second-year coach said is going to be the strength of the program.
Ohl was 24-14 last year, finishing third in the Schuylkill League Championships and grabbing a sixth-place finish at Districts.
"Our strength is going to be in the middle of the lineup starting at 126 going and going all the way up to about 170," Albert said. "That's where our nucleus is going to be."
Albert expects the section of the lineup that includes Ohl (126,), Ziegenfus (132), Helmer (138) and Tee Jay Leffew (145) to be extremely competitive.
In addition to the varsity returnees listed aove, seniors Kenion Stewart (152) and Alvaro Canizares (145); juniors Leffew (145), Cody Lewis (152) and Cody Formisano (152); sophomores Jedidiah Scorzelli (182) and John Schruble (195); and freshmen Cameron Dickson (132), Lamont Whitely (220) and John Condly (106) all look to make an impact in their first year with the varsity.program.
While the Olympians definitely have room for improvement as far as their record is concerned this season, Albert feels the team has already shown huge improvement in another way.
"The bottom line is we may not be the top team in the league, but we will be one of the best conditioned and one of the most disciplined teams in the league," Albert said.