Same high expectations for matmen
Mike Feifel/TIMES NEWS Lehighton wrestling team members for the 2010-11 season include, front row from left, Chris Bosco, Nick Schaeffer, Jacob Hoats, Anthony Farano; middle row, Kurtis Brownmiller, Jason McEvoy, Mike Balliet, Jeremy Rehrig, Mitchell Moyer; back row, Anthony Farole, Jeremy Gornick, Ian Zimmerman, Dylan Flexer and Zach Coleman. Other members of the team include Colton Davidson, Keith Cheadle, Brandon Kuklentz, Dave Magyar and Pasquale Verrastro.
The coach has changed but the goals have not.
Dan Williams will begin his first season at the helm of the Lehighton Indian wrestling program focused on improving on the highly successful era that is credited to his predecessor Floyd Brown.
"The strengths are in the middle of my lineup," Williams said of his lineup from 140-189. "They are mostly a core group of juniors that really work hard and have great leadership."
Some of that leadership comes from one of the two seniors on the squad, Jeremy Gornick (130).
"He really stepped up his leadership role and has given a much improved effort (in the room)," Williams said of Gornick (17-13).
The strength of the team comes from a strong junior class anchored by Regional qualifiers Anthony Farole (26-16, 152) and Mike Balliet (20-12, 189).
"I expect Anthony and Michael to have outstanding years," Williams said. "They were on the cusp of getting out to Hershey and since the season ended last year they couldn't wait for this season to start.
"They were out at regionals as sophomores and they have that in their veins. They are really excited and I expect them to get out to Hershey this year."
Another junior to watch is Jake Hoats (20-16) at 103. An upperclassman at the lightest weight usually results in an excellent season, but as Williams points out, the wrestler's work ethic can only enhance that.
"He comes into the practice room and treats it like a business," Williams said of Hoats. "He's just been going at it and he knows what he wants to do and can do at that weight."
Other juniors that will provide stability in the lineup include Jason McEvoy (125), Mitch Moyer (145), Zach Coleman (160), and Panther Valley transfer Keith Cheadle (215)
"It's been fortunate for us because that is an area where we were going to have a hole in the lineup," Williams said of Cheadle being an Indian. "With him coming into our lineup with experience, stepping into that role, working hard, and really wanting to learn the sport and help this team has been beneficial to us."
Freshman Nick Schaeffer (112) and Kurtis Brownmiller (119) will gain valuable experience at the lower weights.
"I expect those guys to learn, get acclimated to varsity wrestling, and improve throughout the year," Williams said.
Usually strong in the upper weights, Lehighton will have a first year wrestler in Colton Davidson.
"(He) is really starting to get the hang of it." Williams said. "He has a lot of natural athletic ability and he really wants to learn the sport."
Dylan Flexer (135) and Brandon Kuklentz (171) round out the lineup.
The goals for Williams' team are simple: win the Mountain Valley Conference and win Districts. The only thing that could derail this team is the injury bug. Having to bump to fill out the lineup to begin with, an injury or a series of injuries could doom the promise this season presents.
"The kids know what their goals are and as long as they continue to work they should get there," said Williams.