JT grapplers ready to make a statement
Members of the Jim Thorpe wrestling team are, front row, from left, Ethan Gavornick, Gabe Hearey, Beau Strika, John McCabe, Will Schwartz and Alex Evans. Second row, David Getz, Jared Newhall, Andrew Eisenhardt, Nick Fayocavitz, Austin Williams, Tyler Giliard, Chris Strika and Ahmad Johnson. Back row, Austin Givens, Gabe Herschman, Derek Hunter, Kendall Herron, Ethan Mordaunt, Jarrin Geisinger, Josiah Johns, Caleb McDermott and Antonio Lopez. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
It’s a new dawn for the Jim Thorpe wrestling team.
This season, Shawn Albert’s matmen will have a competitor in each of the standard weight classes.
“Last season, before every match, our team was already down 30-0,” said Albert. “Without filling five weight classes with wrestlers, we lost six points for each forfeit.”
Albert begins his ninth season as head coach with 22 rostered wrestlers, a solid mix of talented newcomers, and seasoned award-winning veterans.
“I give credit to my senior wrestlers who went into the halls of our school and recruited some new kids into our program,” he said.
Junior Will Schwartz will kickoff JT’s matches at 106 or 113, and will switch weight classes with John McCabe. Schwartz won 18 matches last year, and fills the void left by district runner-up and regional qualifier, John Newhall, who graduated last June.
“Will was first in several individual tournaments last season,” Albert said. “He’s great on his feet and in the top position. John is raw like several others on our team, but he’s very athletic and very coachable.”
At 120, is freshman Gabe Heaney, who is very promising and “building varsity experience.” At 126, is junior Austin Givens, who is being pushed by sophomore Antonio Lopez. Returning at 132 is Andrew Eisenhardt, followed by freshman Ethan Gavornik at 138, and junior David Getz at 145. Albert loves their competitive spirit and boasts of the “fire in his eyes” that he sees from Gavornik.
At 152, Caleb McDermott comes over from Panther Valley. A freshman, he has shown talent, and what Albert defines as a “mat awareness.”
“An experienced wrestler can defeat a better athlete than him because he pays attention to the time left in each period, and he’s more focused on getting points with takedowns and escapes rather than pinning his opponent,” Albert explained. “The better athlete, who wants to go for the pin, might end the match on his back looking up at the gym lights if he makes crucial mistakes that give the experienced wrestler the advantage.”
At 160, senior JT football star Jarrin Geisinger will compete with junior Nick Fayocavitz, a power lifter, who is new to wrestling, but has already proven to the coaching staff that he hates to lose.
A former Panther Valley standout, Derick Beckham holds the 170 weight class after he was a district runner-up a season ago and qualified for the state tournament. Last season, Beckham was a district runner-up and placed fifth at regionals. Freshman Jared Newhall, also at 170, finished second last year in the junior high district tournament, which saw 50 schools participating.
Senior Austin Williams returns at 182 after qualifying for regionals last year. At 195, Ethan Mourdant carries from last year a district runner-up, a third-place finish at regionals, and a trip to states onto the mat this year. He also won the New Hope and Jim Thorpe tournaments in his weight class.
“Williams and Mourdant, and Kendall Heron, Derrick Hunter and Tyler Gilliard at the top weight classes, will give us a great team finish,” said Albert. “Both Derrick and Ethan have extra motivation to return to states and do well there this year, too.”
Jim Thorpe has always had individual standouts in its program, but this year, the entire wrestling team expects to compete for the Schuylkill League title and represent their school in the team district tournament.