When Dave Lavin took over as Palmerton's head wrestling coach two years ago, his first hurdle was to build a program that had a wrestler at every varsity weight class. And that hurdle is about to be cleared as the Blue Bombers anxiously await the start of the 2011-12 season.
With plenty of experience returning from a team that qualified for District Duals the first time in school history, this could be the season that the Bombers could finally find themselves in the upper echelon of not just the Colonial League, but District 11 AA competition.
"I'm not afraid to say we have a lot of talent coming back," Lavin said. "We lost one guy, Jarrett Kleintop, who was a big asset to the team. There is some pressure, which we'll put on ourselves, but we're looking forward to it."
The Bombers have a freshman newcomer at 106 pounds in Dan Russo that Lavin feels is doing a good job.
At 113, Josh Evan returns off a great freshman season with 29 wins and just missed states and has gotten more offensive. Lavin is looking for Evans to pick up a lot of bonus points for the team.
The 120-pounder is senior captain Sam Oberlander who also had an excellent season last year and pushed some top-notch opponents and just fell short in the end.
"Sam has something to prove and has goals to go pretty far in the state tournament this year," Lavin said.
Dylan Masington, who also had a good season last year, will be at 127 pounds.
"He just likes to go out there and have fun and put on a show no matter what," Lavin quipped. "It's fun to have a guy like that and when you have someone like that who goes out and wins a close match or does something exciting it gets the team up and he got the ball rolling sometimes."
At 132 pounds will be Zach Christman, coming off a real good junior high campaign. Lavin is looking forward to having him in the varsity lineup because he can put some points up as a freshman.
J.D. Christman, who has done a lot of work in the off-season, will be at 138 pounds, has gotten much better and a lot more confident.
Joey Bubble, the team's 145-pounder, is injured right now and Lavin is looking forward to getting him back in the lineup. He had a real exciting year last season, but right now junior Bradley Shupp will fill that spot.
At 152 and 160, it will be either senior Cody Grohotolski or freshman Zach Graver.
"Cody has always been an exciting wrestler," said Lavin. "He can pin guys, he puts bonus points up and has always been right their with the top level guys and is ready for a breakout season.
"Graver placed in the junior high district tournament and is a real hard worker.
Junior Jake Christman, freshman Matt Wolfe and senior James Wooten go well with each other and all will get starting time with their different styles at 170 or at 182.
At 195 junior Andrew Strauss will probably get the nod after starting some matches last year and at 220, Second-year wrestler Skyler Rosenberry returns and Lavin feels he's gotten a lot better in the off-season. Last but not least, Kane Kralik will wrestle at 220 and could also bump up when called upon. Kralik was also very close to going to states last year and that's his goal this year.
"Last year I think these guys saw when things come together and everyone does their part how well they can do," Lavin said.
"Our goals are to do better than last year, be higher than fifth entering district duals. And now with the league tournament we would like to take a shot at that title.