Tigers have big turnout for wrestling
MIKE HAINES/TIMES NEWS Members of the Northwestern wrestling team for the 2013-14 season include, front row from left, Matt Wilson, Tyler Derr, Matthew Shetay, Baily Wehr, Tony DiCataldo, Ryan Degler, Quentin Bernhard; middle row, Brandon Williams, Dalton Webster, Seth White, BeBrandon Bergen, Jarett White, David Van Blargen, Jason Hottinger, Cole Moyer; back row, Jacob Murray, Zach Hunsberger, Sam Day, Eddie Parrish, Alex Russo, Jason Lin, Matt Dunaway, Andrew Sorensen and Alex Schneck.
In recent years there haven't been many Tigers that could say they were a member of the Northwestern varsity wrestling team. The roster consisted of only eight names last winter.
Entering this season there are four times as many wrestlers vying for varsity time.
"We used to only be able to fill eight spots on a roster," said head coach Jim Moll. "Now we have 32 kids in the room. It is fascinating how it has changed in just a few years. I guess that comes with a smaller school. Also, our youth program has done a great job with developing wrestlers and getting them to come out and be ready which we are now seeing in the high school program."
Last year's squad featured two seniors and no juniors, which hurt in the experience category. It is much of the same this winter as there isn't a single senior in that group of 32.
"This is a very young team," said Moll. "We have 32 kids in the room, but most of them are freshmen or sophomores. This is a good and hardworking young group. I'm interested to see how they do when they get in to competition mode."
The two seniors they lost to graduation are Mike Ortiz and Mitchell Evans. Ortiz, a two-time district gold medalist, is continuing his wrestling career for Lock Haven University.
There is some experience returning from last year's squad that went 0-12 overall due in large part to forfeiting at least five bouts in a given match.
Junior Alex Russo, who accumulated six wins last season, is back again this year with some hefty varsity experience under his belt.
Accompanying him are sophomores Jarett White and Quentin Bernhard. White was a district qualifier in 2012.
Juniors Cole Moyer and Anthony Fillis are also back for Northwestern this winter. Moyer is ready to make an impact after missing most of 2012 dealing with a concussion. Fillis is poised to be a better wrestler after doing a lot of individual offseason workouts the last few years.
Sophomore Andrew Sorensen, freshman Baily Wehr and junior Matt Dunnway are looking to make their mark on the program and the Colonial League.
Moll sees Pen Argyl, Catasauqua and Saucon Valley leading the way in the Colonial League once again, but he hopes his team will be more competitive as a unit and of course individually as well.
"What we take away from each season is the individual success," said Moll. "We look at what we can do at districts. The last few years we have made some trips to states as well. We use that to see how successful our season was."
This may be a younger and less experienced team for Northwestern, but it is a larger team and that is already one victory for them heading in to a winter where they expect to get a few more.