Bomber matmen hope to build off last year
RICH GEORGE/Special to THE TIMES NEWS The Palmerton wrestling team will include: FRONT: Matt Wolfe, Dillon Masington, Dan Russo and Dakota Graham (manager). Second row, same order Sabrina Strauch (manager), Travis Stroup, Damien Fink, Branden Traugher, Josh Evans, Shane Grohotolski and Shannon Masington (manager). Back row, Justin Petersen (asst. coach), Zac Graver, Joe Bubble, Rai Washington, Skyler Rosenberry, Andrew Strauss, Jake Christman, Zack Christman and Dave Lavin (head coach).
The Palmerton wrestling team did a few things last season that they haven't been able to do before.
As a team, the Blue Bombers made their first appearance at District Duals and qualified for the Colonial League Team Championships. They also set a record for most wins in a season with 17.
Individually, the Bombers had four wrestlers qualify for states in Sam Oberlander, Cody Grohotolski, Kane Kralik and Josh Evans and came home with some hardware.
"Our goals as a team are to make the league tournament again and qualify for district duals," said head coach Dave Lavin. "We lost three state qualifiers and two of them medaled which is tough. I think a lot of the solid guys that we had last year did a lot of work in the off-season to progress.
"Josh (Evans) is our only returning state qualifier, but there are five or six guys we feel can make it out to regionals if we wrestle to our potential."
Looking at the varsity lineup, sophomore Brandon Traugher will wrestle at 106. Traugher wrestled last year, but had an injury so he's basically new to the team. Another sophomore, Dan Russo, will probably wrestle at 113 and at 120, Evans will be doing most of his wrestling at that spot.
At 126, senior Dillon Masington, who has had two solid years in a row returns. One of his goals is to make it out to regionals. At 132, sophomore Zach Christman, who had a decent year as a freshman, returns.
"He's one of the people who has put in a lot or work, had a real solid freshman season and could surprise a lot of people this year," said Lavin.
The Bombers have a couple of freshman that Lavin plans on working into the lineup.
Damien Fink and Travis Stroup are both wrestling varsity for the first time. Fink will be around 126 pounds, while Stroup will wrestle around 138 of 145 pounds.
"We have to make some moves to be competitive as a dual meet team and the guys make a lot of sacrifices, but I think we'll be solid," Lavin noted.
Joey Bubble will be at 145 to start and might get down to 138. He's beaten state qualifiers in the past and Lavin sees him as this year's Cody Grohotolski.
"He's someone that a lot didn't know about, but he's at that level that could possibly earn a trip to states," the coach said.
Zach Graver, a sophomore, has been working hard and will probably start out at 160 and go down to 152. Lavin looks for Graver to surprise a lot of people coming off a freshman season with Xx wins.
Jake Christman enters his third year of varsity competition as a senior and will be at 170. Lavin looks for Christman to continue to get a lot of bonus points for the team as he has in the past. Matt Wolfe, another sophomore, should be at 182 pounds.
At 195, newcomer Rae Washington, a freshman, is new to the sport but is really athletic and could be a help in the upper weights.
Andrew Strauss, a senior, and Skyler Rosenberry, another senior, are two guys Lavin will work in at 220 and heavyweight.
"I think we have a corp of about eight guys who have experience and know how the sport is,: said Lavin. "They've put in some work and they're going to be better than they were last year. Some of them will fill the spot of the guys we lost."