Wrestlers anticipate another solid season
ron gower/times news Tamaqua's varsity wrestling squad consists of front row, from left, Joel Kulick, Steven Matukonis, Derek Hill, Colin Mashack. Kneeling, James Weeks, Nicholas Toth, Dustin Silkowski, Dylan Rynkiewicz, Brandan Silkowski, assistant coach Shane McCabe. Back row, head coach Jim McCabe, D J Jones, Tom Betzler, Cody Houser, Luke Matsago, Michael Betz, Evan Mashack, volunteer coach Jon Mashack, and assistant coach Greg Rynkiewicz.
The Tamaqua girls basketball team received a lot of notariety last season, but it wasn't the only winter sports team making noise for Raider nation.
Actually, one could argue that the Blue Raider grapplers were the most successful team out of all the Tamaqua winter sports teams. The reasoning behind that argument was the Raiders brought home their first-ever State Champion in 215-pound Garth Lakitsky.
The Raiders lost a lot of talented wrestlers from last year's team, however, as Lakitsky, Kolby Mashack, Matt Edmonds, Travis Veronsky, and Philip Christman all graduated. Those five wrestlers combined for 151 wins for the Raiders last season.
13th year head coach Jim McCabe knows his team lost a host of talented wrestlers, but in no way, shape, or form believes the Raiders are in any sort of rebuilding situation.
"These guys know they have to pick it up," said McCabe. "They have a lot of weight on their shoulders, but they have put the work in order to wrestle competitively this season. It's important for us to come out of the gate and perform well so we can gain confidence as the season moves forward."
The Raiders may have lost a number of major contributors from last year's team, but they also return some solid wrestlers for the 2011-12 campaign. Sophomore Colin Mashack (106/113 pounds) will be looking to improve on an impressive freshman season where he accumulated 28 wins and finished sixth in the District 11 tournament.
Seniors Brandon Silkowski and Evan Mashack will be counted on to be the anchors for this year's Raiders team. Silkowski (152) went 18-7 last season and finished third in the Schuylkill League tournament. Mashack (145) broke the 20-win mark going 21-17 last year and came home with a sixth place finish in leagues.
Other wrestlers that are expected to make a difference on the mat for the Raiders this season are Derek Hill (120/126) and Luke Matsago (Hwt.).
"I've been in this situation before where we lost a lot of talent, but had some kids coming back that showed they can compete," said McCabe. "My main focus is to get them to be the best wrestlers they can be and help them individually get wins. The better these guys get individually then the better our team is going to be."
McCabe knows the potential and skill is there.
"We, as a coaching staff, have to put these kids in the right match-ups for them to succeed," said McCabe. "We need to continue to work hard as the season goes and if we do that we're going to be just fine. We are young, but we have a crop of experienced wrestlers who have the ability to do big things this year for us."