Editor’s Note: The preview reflects the coaches who returned questionnaires to D9and10Sports.com.
Commodore Perry Panthers (4-6 dual meet record)
Like many of his colleagues, head coach Ed Varner is hoping for a healthy season. Despite being a small school, the Panthers have plenty of talent and are looking to advance as many wrestlers as possible to Hershey at the end of this campaign. One who has advanced to the Giant Center the past two seasons is senior Gage Musser (36-4). Though he didn’t find the podium at the end of his sophomore year, he did as a junior, taking fourth at 160 pounds. Musser was also district and regional champ in 2019-2020. Three of Varner’s grapplers qualified for regionals a year ago; senior Zane Grinnell (25-13) at 126 pounds, junior Clayton Smith (28-13) at 145 pounds, and sophomore Hunter Geibel (24-14) at 106 pounds. Seniors Ashton Armagost (20-6 at 126/120 pounds) and Jonny Rodgers (2-4 at 170 pounds) but qualified for regionals as sophomores but were unable to do so as juniors. Varner will have the assistance of coaches Ryan Grinnell and Kevin Peterson.
Corry Beavers (18-4 dual meet record)
Head coach Mark Munsee knows repeating the Beavers success last season might be difficult with the loss of four very talented wrestlers. That being noted, the Corry cupboards are not bare and he has a strong group of seniors and juniors he believes can bring the team through whatever difficulties the current season might present. Seniors Lucas Munsee (44-9) was district runner-up last season and placed eighth at states in the 106 pound class, Dylan Gourley (31-15) qualified for regionals at 160 pounds (he also qualified as a sophomore), and Shawn Proctor (29-16) who was a regional qualifier at 220 pounds. Juniors include Hayden Linkerhof (40-7), a two-time regional qualifier who did so at 195 pounds last season, and Xavier Reyda (37-16), a regional qualifier at 285 pounds. Logan Hodak and Hayden Tomcho are a pair of promising freshmen. Munsee, the first state place winner for Corry since 2014, needs 13 wins to reach 100. Coach Munsee is proud of the wrestling community at Corry and the ability of its members to unite and support each other. Assistant coaches are Andy Gourley, Travis Proper, Jared Johnson, Larry Harrington, Lon Peterson, Austin Gillihan, Jack Gill, Jay Gill, and Mike Munsee.
Eisenhower Knights (13-4 dual meet record)
For head coach Kris Black one of the keys to success in the coming season is by finding a way to stay in the moment, taking things a day at a time and reassessing on the fly. This will involve bringing the younger grapplers up to the intensity level of a varsity room, improving skills through drill, and just improving as a whole. Fortunately, Black can look to a quartet to grapplers to provide leadership to help him achieve this; seniors Easton Hedman (27-10 at 132 pounds) and Jacob Williams (9-17 at 126 pounds) and juniors Cale Black (37-10) and Gannon Jaquay (30-15). Black is a two-time state qualifier, finishing sixth at 220 pounds in 2019-2020. Jacquay is a two-time regional qualifier, doing so at 138 pounds last year. Freshmen Tucker Lindell and Cole Kellogg could crack the varsity line-up. Black is joined on the bench by assistants Dennis Johnson and Jared Lindell.
Girard Yellow Jackets (12-9 dual meet record)
Head coach Jason Johnson lost a lot of experience from last year’s Yellow Jackets team so he will be looking for some of his younger wrestlers to fill in those holes. Because he will be counting on his underclassmen, Johnson is fortunate they are tough, eager to learn, and love to wrestle. Emphasis will be on bottom wrestling in an effort to reduce the number of pins they give. Jordan Schell (38-7) will be counted upon to provide leadership. The senior was district champ at 285 pounds last season and qualified for states. Schell could become Girard’s first 100-win wrestler since 2013. Three other regional qualifiers, all sophomores, are expected to be in the line-up; Gabe Messmer (18-19 at 106 pounds), Lance Cardman (19-20 at 113 pounds), and Abe Keep (29-15 at 160 pounds). Johnson expects freshmen Story Buchanan, Tyler Oas, Jeremiah Colon, and Jordon Colon to make an impact. Buchanan qualified for junior high states last year. Assistant coaches are Matt Friend, Trevor McCray, Curt Cardman, and Jason Schell.
Greenville Trojans (16-6 dual meet record; co-op with Jamestown)
Greenville has a well-balanced line-up and should be a good dual meet team if they can avoid injuries and illness according to head coach John Reynolds. The Trojans will be looking to control the controllables and improving incrementally throughout the season. Senior Chase McLaughlin (41-7) is a three-time regional qualifier and made the trip to states as a freshman and junior, last year doing so at 120 pounds. Junior Cole Karpinski (38-3) has qualified for regionals each of the past two seasons, competing as a 170-pounder in 2019-2020. Other returning regional qualifiers include senior Blayke Knauf (30-15 at 113 pounds); juniors Riley Kneeland (31-17) at 120 pounds and Anthony Gentile (27-11) at 220 pounds; and sophomore Nevada Koehler (22-13) at 106 pounds. Junior Seth Renwick (19-6 at 113/106 pounds) and sophomore Luke Gentile (23-14 primarily at 138 pounds) also have varsity experience. Assistant coaches are Mike Gentile, Brian Holzshu, Justin Reynolds, Kevin Kean, and Shaun Ferguson.
Hickory Hornets (5-6 dual meet record; co-op with West Middlesex)
It might be a different season, but the goals at Hickory remains the same; be competitive as a team and get wrestlers to Hershey and on the podium. Head coach Nick Clepper welcomes two state qualifiers back to his line-up, junior Carter Gill (38-10) and sophomore Connor Saylor (33-11 at 113 pounds). Gill, a two-time regional qualifier, was sixth at the state tournament last year wrestling in the 132 pound class. Returning regional qualifiers are senior Justin O’Neil (29-19 at 120 pounds) and junior Cody Miller (22-18 at 120 pounds), who also qualified as a freshman. Senior Connor Haddon did not wrestle last year, but was a regional qualifier as a sophomore. Notable freshmen are Louie Gill and Timmy Krivosh. James Funk, Tim Jones, James Gulla, Chris Mueller, and David Morris will serve as assistant coaches.
Iroquois Braves (3-14 dual meet record; co-ops with Mercyhurst Prep and Erie First Christian Academy)
Braves’ head coach Jeremy Little likes his small team’s toughness and effort heading into the coming season. This year he will be counting upon seniors Drew Johnson (23-11 at 132/126 pounds) and Jaden O’Connor (14-14 at 195/220 pounds), sophomore Ben Barish (11-18 at 106 pounds), and freshmen Sam Kightlinger and Xavier Rhines. Little will be assisted by Michael Hughes, Rob Barish, Corey Bartlett and Derek Chew.
Lakeview Sailors (3-12 dual meet records)
Though head coach Tom Tingley anticipates some open weights in his line-up, he notes that increased numbers should cut down on the forfeits that cost the Sailors in dual meets last season. Tingley feels his team is fairly solid in the middle and upper weights, featuring a good mix of seasoned upperclassmen and talented freshmen. Senior Isaac DeVault (36-14) qualified for regionals last season at 220 pounds. Other returners include seniors Ryan O’Polka (21-11 at 145/138 pounds) and Robert Reiser (5-19 primarily at 120 pounds), juniors Trevn Schaffer (17-13 pounds at 152/145 pounds) and Sebastian Hensch (10-13 at 285 pounds), and sophomore Nate Martin (9-14 at 138/132 pounds). Leading the incoming freshmen is junior high state placer Danick Hinkson. Joining him will be junior high state qualifiers Aiden Osborne and Mitchell Tingley. Tingley’s assistants are Steve Oliver and Kevin Drew.
North East Grape Pickers (2-11 dual meet record)
Head coach Matt Humes has a small team, with many of his charges in the same weight range. Therefore one of his primary goals is to get his grapplers moved up or down in weight so that he can fill as many spots as possible. That said, Humes likes the brotherhood exhibited by his squad, the way those with more experience help out those newer to the sport, and is confident they have the needed heart and drive. Humes singled out returning seniors Jesse Phelps (12-7 at 285 pounds), Steve Herring (20-12 at 220 pounds), and Brandon Lafferty (11-15 at 120 pounds) for individual mention. The Grape Pickers have only one freshman on the roster, Devon Dickson. Humes will be assisted by Aaron Jackson.
Seneca Bobcats (10-8 dual meet record)
Seneca has a small roster and though that might hurt them when it comes to racking up dual wins, head coach Isaac Merritt does see a positive. According to Merritt this has fostered a “nothing to lose” attitude among his squad, which his grapplers can use to go after wins in the weight classes they’re able to fill. Merritt’s hope is that technical improvement will see some of his wrestlers through sectionals and on to districts. Returning are junior Logan Platz (17-15 at 120 pounds) and sophomores Ryan Miller (19-10 at 145 pounds), Mike Spires (7-7 at 182/170 pounds), and Trey Pound (1-2 at 182 pounds). Assistant coaches are Shawn Miller and Jeff Kimmy
Erie Cathedral Prep Ramblers (22-3 dual meet record)
The Ramblers will have a solid line-up once everybody all their wrestlers find their competition weights. Head coach Mike Hahesy’s squad will see the return of three state qualifiers, two of who finished in the top three. The Ramblers’ highest placer in Hershey last season was Jacob VanDee (40-4), now a junior, who was runner-up at 106 pounds in his second trip to the state tournament. VanDee was a regional champion last year and is a two-time district champ. Not only is senior Paniro Johnson (40-3) a three-time state qualifier, he earned a spot on the podium each time; third last year at 145 pounds, fifth as a sophomore, and eighth as a freshmen. He is a three-time regional and district champion. Junior Kaeman Smith (34-10), district champion at 126 pounds, accompanied VanDee and Paniro to the Giant Center last season. Smith also qualified for regionals as a freshman. Returning regional qualifiers are senior Phillip Stark (16-14), junior Kelyn Blossey (29-13), and sophomore Steffan Lynch (29-16). Blossey is a two-time district champ, winning at 160 pounds in 2019-2020. He also qualified for regionals as a freshman. Lynch won districts last year at 132 pounds. Other returners Hahesy will be counting on are senior John Campbell (21-12 at 285/220 pounds) and sophomore Owen Shetler (11-20 at 182/170/160 pounds). Newcomers looking to make an impact are freshmen Clay Mallory and Tim Swanson. Helping Hahesy in the room and/or on the bench will be Jeff Scibetta, Jim Schoonover, Kevin Blossey, Shawn Chelton, Brian Stark, Bob VanDee, Brian Smith, Mark Harringron, Marcell Mallory, Karen Jones, and Josh Knapp.
Fort LeBoeuf Bisons (7-4 dual meet record)
Head coach Steve Waite’s squad will be led this year by senior Jack Rimpa (33-14). Rimpa has qualified for regionals the past two years, last season finishing his season as a 152-pounder at the state tournament. Other returning regional qualifiers from a year ago are Timmy Church (28-17 at 182 pounds) and Danny Church (19-17 at 170 pounds). The Bisons’ roster also boasts the 2020 108 pound girls state champion, junior Andie Przybycien. Przbycien was 9-5 last season wrestling for the Bison at 106 pounds, placing fourth at the McDowell varsity tournament. Waite will have several mult-time Pennsylvania state junior wrestling qualifiers among the incoming freshmen, including Jacob Bennett, JoJo Przybycien, Jackson Bowers, Dominic Stearns, Conner McChesney, and Jack Sangl. Assistant coaches are Shane McChesney and Joe Przybycien.
Franklin Knights (0-15; co-op with Rocky Grove)
The Knights are a young team that is somewhat short on varsity experience, but motivated and coachable. Head coach John Heckathorne is, therefore, looking to establish both a skillset and mindset among his grapplers. Along with this, Heckathorne hopes to establish a positive culture in his room, based on self-discipline, responsibility, respect for self and others, working through setbacks, and integrity. Three returners Heckathorne will be counting on are seniors Justus Baker (11-13 at 160/152 pounds) and Conner Jones (2-8 primarily at 145 pounds) and junior Trevor Hamilton (15-17 at 113 pounds). Among his newcomers are freshmen Kavin Boitnott, Jonah Heckathorne, and Cael Dailey. Dailey is a multiple time Pennsylvania junior wrestling state qualifier. The younger Heckathorne qualified for the Pennsylvania junior wrestling state tournament two years ago but missed out last year due to injury. Heckathorne’s assistants are Scott Ziegler, Charley Carbaugh, Chris Dailey, Hunter Exley, Andy Kockler, and Chad Doyle.
General McLane Lancers (14-3 dual meet record)
As it is every year, state medals are the goals for Ryan Cook and his squad. Cook will be counting upon senior leadership to help steer the Lancers’ ship. Seniors Jackson Spires (29-5), Matt Leehan (42-9), and James Laird (40-15) are not only accomplished wrestlers but also seasoned leaders, having served as captains since they were sophomores. Spires is a two-time district champion and state qualifier, finishing seventh in Hershey last year at 145 pounds. Leehan, who last year became the first junior to reach the 100-win milestone, is a three-time regional qualifier and made it to states a season ago at 132 pounds. Laird is also a three-time regional qualifier, last year making the trip at 170 pounds. Sophomore Wilson Spires (34-15) was a regional qualifier at 220 pounds last season. Other returning wrestlers Cook will be looking to are senior Cody Stempka (19-18 at 182 pounds); juniors Dan Mulligan (10-7 at 152 pounds) Brandon Dedrick (4-8 at 160 pounds); and sophomores Gabe Bayle (21-18 at 126/120 pounds) and Kyle Cousins (14-9 at 138 pounds). Looking to make an impact at the varsity level are sophomore Jessi Stempka, a two-time junior state finalists, and freshmen Magnus Lloyd a four-time junior state medalist, Chance Kimmy, Ethan Brest, Jacob Zeiser, Ben Watkins, Gavyn Henry, and Ryan Dedrick. Cook will be assisted by Hunter Harrison, James Beach, Spencer Nagy, Zach Lucas, Andrew Brest, and Zack Buell.
Warren Dragons (9-10 dual meet record)
First year head coach Ted Carrington knows this season’s circumstances will pose a challenge, but nonetheless is looking for his squad to build intensity and stamina on the mat. To do this, he sees team bonding being key, with the upperclassmen taking his younger grapplers under their wings. Returning is three-time regional qualifier Joey Arnold (27-7), a senior who was a district runner-up last year at 160 pounds. Senior Donovan Fiscus was a regional qualifier as a freshman and sophomore. Last year he was 11-6 at 138/132 pounds. Carrington’s ultimate goal is to build a team of young athletes who are students first and will grow to contribute to society. His assistants are John Hamm and Steve Siliano.