Rebuilding Tribe hopes to maintain tradition
bob ford/times news Lehighton wrestling team members include, front row, from left, Christopher Bosco, Dustin Koons, Zach Kemmerer, Tegan Durishin and Anthony Fanano. Middle row, Mick Schaeffer, Marques Spencer, Devonte Dash, Zack Kamowski, Dominik Mystkowski and Dan Berger. Back row, Devin Steigerwalt, Josh Gornick, James Scott, Connor Frey, Dylan Flexer and Tyler Cann.
There's no doubt that this season will see change throughout the Lehighton wrestling program, with the Indians losing eight seniors from a year ago.
However, coach Dan Williams believes he will be able to compete with the team he has this year and well into the future.
"We have a young team," Williams said. "We're young just about everywhere.
"This will definitely be a rebuilding year where we focus on what we have for the future."
What the Indians have are a number of freshman and sophomores on the roster.
Coach Williams is not concerned about the learning curve for the underclassmen though, as he knows they will come with seasoning from having wrestled on the junior high team.
"The freshmen come with experience," Williams said. "They wrestle year-round and are dedicated to the sport.
"A lot of them wrestled on the junior high team and won tournaments there. I expect them to come in and contribute right away."
Lehighton won't be without any upperclassmen, though. One senior Williams is expecting big things from this year is Dylan Flexer, who hurt his leg and missed significant time last season.
"I expected big things from Dylan last year but he hurt his leg and wasn't able to contribute," Williams said. "With him healthy this season I really think he's going to have a bounce-back year."
Other seniors Williams will be counting on are Chris Bosco and James Scott.
Williams is hoping that juniors Kurt Brownmiller and Nick Schaeffer can contribute with another year of experience under their belts.
Williams also has his eye on sophomores Josh Gornick and Dominick Mystkowski to step up in their second varsity seasons.
Even though his team is young, Williams says the goals for the season are no different than any other.
"Our first goal is always to contend in the Mountain Valley Conference," Williams said. "It's going to be tough, with strong teams like Stroudsburg, Pocono Mountain East and Pleasant Valley.
"But I don't see why we can't win a couple of those matches."
Williams understands the history of the program and how successful it has been over the years. Williams is committed to maintaining that success each year.
Still, Williams admits his team starts the season with one thing in mind.
"The ultimate goal every season is to get guys to Hershey for States," Williams said. "That's the one common goal everyone started with when the season began on Nov. 16."
Even though there might have been a lot of turnover from a season ago, Williams is confident that the program is in good shape moving forward.
"I think having so many guys come out over the last few years has sparked an interest in the program," Williams said. "We have a nice mix of freshmen and sophomores that will contribute and help grow the program for the future."
The Lehighton wrestling team may have a number of new faces, but the talent and tradition remains the same.