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Plenty of interest in Bomber program

This season, numbers are more on Palmerton wrestling coach Justin Petersen’s side than in years past.

In his 10th season with the program, the Bombers’ head coach has seen the greatest number of kids out for the sport.

There seems to be one issue in the wrestling room working against them though, as the Bombers prepare for the up-and-coming 2023-2024 season.

“We have great numbers, but nobody that weighs more than 180 pounds,” said Petersen. “That’s the frustrating thing with wrestling: we not only need to fill 13 varsity spots, but they have to be all different sizes.

“I have the most kids out that I have ever had by a wide margin, but I still am going to have forfeits.”

While the Bombers are short on the heavyweights and will take a hit on the scoreboard at those weights, that won’t stop Petersen’s grapplers from giving it their all out on the mats.

Leading the way is Derek King (152-pounds), who was one of two Regional qualifiers and District medalists (fourth place) for the Bombers last season. The other was Daniel Lucykanish, who was the lone graduate from last year’s team and a bronze medalist at Districts.

Returning to Petersen’s roster are Mason Becker (127), Caleb Gaffney (172), Dillon Lombardi (160), Josh Merkel (133), Aidan Ortiz (139), Bryce Smith (152/160), Jameson Trainer (172) and Kellen Trotter (121). Sophomore Vincent Taglieri returns as well with some varsity mat time at 139 pounds.

Although there might not be a single senior on the Bombers’ roster, it won’t stop every single one of them from utilizing one true characteristic to lead them into battle.

“Work ethics and camaraderie amongst members of the team,” said Petersen of what he believes will be the strength of the team this season. “We have a solid group of kids who all work hard and care about each other. Their selflessness is what will continue to help all of them progress throughout the season.

“They have been working hard in the wrestling room and weight room all offseason, and the benefits of that should be seen in the near future.”

Petersen is beyond excited to coach these Bombers into Colonial League Dual action this season, and said it helps that “they’re good kids all-around.”

It doesn’t stop there, as the seasoned mentor believes they are more wrestlers looking to give it their all to break the varsity lineup.

The list includes juniors Dawson McCoy (121), David Steele (145) and Chris Zengen (172), along with sophomores Anderson Garcia-Escobar (189), James Mack (145) and Jaggar Serfass (145), and incoming freshmen Dillon Anthony (160/172), Colton Becker (107/113), Chris Collier (113), Joshua Dunwoodie (152), Nathan Goldstein (145), Matthew Gombert (121/127), Levi Johnson (113), Antonio Oller (145), Thomas Pasquariello (107), Jake Rutkowitz (145) and Tegan Silfies (113).

While the Bombers continue to battle for spots in the starting lineup and look to improve on a 4-11 overall (3-5 Colonial League) mark from last season, the coaching staff will look to strategize on ways to hopefully fill those unwanted few forfeit spots this season.

Petersen explained the standard that’s been set for this new season.

“We want to compete to the best of our abilities,” he stressed. “I want the kids to have fun and enjoy this great sport. We aren’t going to be afraid of anybody or any result; we are just going out there to compete.

Members of the 2023-24 Palmerton wrestling team include, front row from left, Izabella McFarland, Lila Faust, Nickayla Tomsic, Gretchen Schaible, Cassidy Merkel, Lea Schaible, Madelyn Bennyhoff, Jade Kuhns, Skylar Benninger; middle row, from left, Tegan Silfies, Thomas Pasquariello, Matt Gombert, Levi Johnson, Colton Becker, Jaggar Serfass, Kellen Trotter, Mason Becker, Dillon Anthony, Joshua Dunwoodie; back row, from left, David Steele, Jake Rutkowitz, Dawson McCoy, Derek King, Dillon Lombardi, Caleb Gaffney, Bryce Smith, Anderson Garcia-Escobar, Josh Merkel, Antonio Oller. Other members of the team not present include Aidan Ortiz, Jameson Trainer, Chris Zengen, James Mack, Vincent Taglieri, Chris Collier, Nate Goldstein, Makenna Ringler, Faith Rudalavage and Samara Elliot. PATRICK MATSINKO/TIMES NEWS