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Northern Lehigh grapplers rounding into form

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    Northern Lehigh wrestling team members are, kneeling, from left, Nathan Ellan, Preston Bauer, Brendan Smay, Jason Hunter, Trevor Amorim and Dylan Smoyer. Standing, head coach Scott Snyder, Makenzie Brungard, Matthew Frame, Joshua Schaffer, Dustin Greene, manager Adde Warmkessel and assistant coach Nick Hosford. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

Published December 02. 2019 09:13PM

It’s no secret.

When a program doesn’t have a full lineup, adjustments are a guarantee and wins are hard to come by.

But things might be starting to change for the Northern Lehigh wrestling team.

After struggling through a 5-14 campaign a year ago that was created in large part by various holes in the lineup, the Bulldog numbers are trending in the right direction.

Head coach Scott Snyder feels the Bulldogs are within reach of getting to where they need to be.

“It feels really good to kind of start closing in on filling the gaps in our lineup,” Snyder said. “Obviously, I’d like it to be full, but we’re just going to have to roll with it with what we have right now. I think with the kids we have (we have) a lot of solid kids. We really do.

“We had a couple of kids who had a great offseason. We’re still young on paper, but we definitely have experience.”

The experience is there, but the Bulldogs took a hit, losing two of their four district medalists from a year ago. Damion Rodriguez (18-13 record, fifth place at districts, 170) and Dominic Bandle (14-13, sixth place at districts, 195).

The Bulldogs will turn to an experienced core this season, led by four-year starter Preston Bauer. Bauer is the rock for the Bulldogs entering the 2019-2020 campaign, and the team’s lone senior is looking to improve upon his 21-11 mark and his Second Team All-Colonial selection from last season.

Bauer, who finished last season at 120 pounds, will battle the competition at 132 this year. Several others will also be taking the mat at different weight classes then last season, and bumping up a class or two.

Juniors Brendan Smay (now 113), Nathan Ellan (138) and Joe Abidelli (160), along with Sophomore Trevor Amorim (145), all will be in different spots then last seaosn.

“We can see now that as we are getting closer to filling that gap in our lineup,” said Snyder, who is presently unable to fill two weight classes. “When you can’t quite fill it, and you don’t have all the depth, you have to be willing to make sacrifices if you want the team to be a little more successful and competitive than we have been in the past.

“We were just talking about making some sacrifices, and that’s all it is.”

Smay (16-10, 106), Bauer, Amorim (20-13, 132), Abidelli (18-12, 152, fifth at districts) and Schaffer (23-10, 285) each made those moves to push their Bulldogs one step further to where they need to be.

Juniors Jason Hunter (220) and Hunter Zehner (120/126), and sophomores Gabriel Artimovich (120/126), Dylan Smoyer (152), Dustin Greene (182/195) and Matthew Frame (195/220) provide depth to the Bulldogs’ roster.

While Snyder knows he has an experienced core in his returnees – Bauer (13 pins last season), Abidelli (13 pins), Schaffer (14 pins) and Amorim (seven pins), the fourth-year Bulldogs’ coach hopes that together the team can accomplish its goals.

“As a team, we would love to qualify for district duals and take it from there,” Snyder said. “Individually, we want all of our wrestlers to improve on their accomplishments from last year. It was disappointing that some fell short of their goals of qualifying for regionals last season.

“Ultimately, we would like to see a number of regional qualifiers, and see who we can get through to the state tournament.”

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