Panthers will be physical and aggressive
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Panther Valley Wrestling team members for the 2009-2010 season include, front from left, Alyssa Marshall and Virginia Rivera. Second row, Tyler Heffelfinger, Justin Christman, Gage Rohlfing and Nick Molino. Third row, Nick O'Donnell, Ryan Gurka, Kory Lopata, Josh Vega, Eli Vega and Travis Keiper. Fourth row, Mike Snyder, Mike Weaver, Jared Eickhoff, Keith Cheadle, John Scheaffer, Alex Lorkowski, Kevin Schaller and Stephen Snyder.
Physical and aggressive.
If there's a way to describe a majority of the Panther Valley wrestlers, that would be it.
Win or lose, the Panthers are sure to give opponents a battle.
"We are not overly talented, but I think that the guys from 145 up will ... work to wear opponents down," said head coach Tim Robb. "Getting some guys down in weight after a few weeks, and getting some of our more experienced guys in up top can make us a much better team.
"We have 20 kids in the room which is great, but we are one man per weight from 103-140. We should do very well in the division, with Mount Carmel being the class of the division."
The class of the Panthers, meanwhile, comes from their lightest wrestler. Competing at 103, junior Nick O'Donnell may be PV's best shot at a state qualifier. O'Donnell was 30-6 a year ago and finished second at leagues and fifth at districts.
Along with O'Donnell, Mike Weaver is another candidate to make his mark in the postseason. Just a sophomore, Weaver will move up from 160 to 171 this year. Last season he turned in a 22-11 mark and also finished runner-up at leagues.
"Nick won 30 matches last year, and worked harder this year during the off season than he did last year," said Robb. "I think he will be very tough to beat ... He has his focus on qualifying for states.
"Mike is very solid. (With) a year of experience under his belt I think he could be a wrecking ball this season. I'm expecting him to be a legitimate threat to qualify for states."
Beyond O'Donnell and Weaver, Robb boasts a number of talented grapplers.
Kevin Schaller, one of a few seniors on the squad, was 22-14 a year ago and is likely to start at 160. Another senior, John Schaeffer, returns from a 21-win season and will compete at either 215 or heavyweight.
Juniors Kory Lopata (125) and Brandon Gurka (119) both had solid seasons last year and could reach the 20-victory plateau this winter. Senior Justin Christman (145/52) will also be counted on in the middleweights.
"We won 16 matches last year and I'd like to come close to that," said Robb. "We're returning a lot of experience, we're just not returning many seniors with a lot of experience. I really like the group. They're hard-working kids."
The rest of the lineup includes freshman Tyler Heffelfinger (112), sophomores Nick Molino (130), Gage Rohlfing (140), Stephen Snyder (171) and Kevin Cheadle (189), juniors Travis Keiper (135), Josh Vega (140) and Alex Lorkowsky (171), and seniors Eli Vega (160)and Greg Pecha (215).