Warwick, Central matmen prepare for L-L Tournament
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
With one streak snapped at the 2011 Lancaster-Lebanon League Wrestling Championships, Warwick will be looking to start another one this year.
For the first time in six years — since 2005 — the Warriors returned home without an L-L champ last winter.
But the red and black just might have the potential to get back to the top of the podium at the 2012 L-L Tournament, which is slated for this Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20-21 at Conestoga Valley High School.
Sophomore Josh Charles (106), senior Cody Shoenberger (160) and junior Tom Devenney (285) could be Warwick’s top three candidates to make some noise. Although nothing will be set in stone until after the L-L meeting tonight (Thursday), Warriors’ skipper Ned Bushong believes that Devenney should receive the top seed at heavyweight and that Charles and Shoenberger will be in the top three at their respective weights. They got one more test before the L-L Championships, as they squared off against Manheim Township in a Section One match last night (Wednesday) after deadline.
"I think we have some that have a good shot at winning it," Bushong remarked. "I hate to predict like that, but they will be in the mix for placing high."
Manheim Central, meanwhile, also came home empty-handed last January in terms of gold medalists, although they had two medalists in Ben Metzler, who placed third at 112, and A.J. Votano, who was fourth at 119.
Metzler (126), now a sophomore, and Votano (138), a senior, are two of the Barons’ best candidates to place at this weekend’s tournament, along with sophomores Kyler West and Brandywine Tournament champ Aaron Lefever at 106 and heavyweight, respectively. Votano was the Barons’ last L-L champ, having taken the gold medal at 103 in 2010.
"I’m not sure any of them will be a number one seed," Manheim Central coach Troy Sunderland said, "but Votano has been a champ and a placer before, Metzler did well last year. I think Aaron’s probably (got) our best record — between Aaron and Ben Metzler. And Aaron has a lot of pins, but I know there’s some pretty good kids in the league at heavyweight. I’m just not sure. It will be a good test for us just to see where we’re at and some things that hopefully we can improve upon getting ready for the post-season."
Devenney (bronze) and Shoenberger (fifth) were two of the Warriors’ four L-L medalists last year, led by Bryan McCall, who won silver at 215. But both wrestlers figure to be good bets to improve on their finish this weekend.
Still unbeaten at 14-0, Devenney has earned wins over previously ranked District Three Triple-A wrestlers Sawyer Mundorf (Mechanicsburg) and Heath Rupp (Northern York). His 6-2 decision over Rupp in the Warrior Duals on Jan. 7 vaulted Devenney to the number three spot in the latest District Three Triple-rankings at 285.
A year ago, Devenney placed fourth at Sectionals behind Conestoga Valley’s Cole Dillman, Penn Manor’s Evan Singleton and ELCO’s Steve Kahler, all of whom have graduated.
"(Tom) moves well for a heavyweight," Bushong said. "We’ve worked a lot with him on his feet this year and he’s gotten much better. He’s just improved all around."
Ditto for Shoenberger, who had a 17-3 record leading into the Warriors’ match against Township on Wednesday night. Two of his three losses were against State caliber wrestlers in Tri-Valley’s Sam Scheib, who defeated Shoenberger 6-3 at the Bethlehem Holiday Classic, and Mechanicsburg’s Rustin Barrick, who won by fall in a dual meet.
"(Cody)’s wrestled some tough guys this year and he hung with them," Bushong said. "He will have some tough matches (at the L-L Tourney), but I think he’s one of the top 160-pounders in the county."
Solanco’s Joe Welk, a League champ at 152 last year, will no doubt be one of the major hurdles for Shoenberger. But as a returning District qualifier, Shoenberger has taken his game to another level this season.
"The whole package," Bushong said of Shoenberger. "He’s gotten much better on his feet and on the mat. He is just maturing and coming into his own now … Shoenberger should be in the top three (seeds). If he’s not, I’ll be surprised. Charles should be in the top three. There may be somebody out there that has a better record than him, and they base everything basically on records."
Like Shoenberger, Charles (13-4), an Elizabethtown Tournament champ last year in junior high, also benefits from having quite a bit of experience under his belt. Plus, as a tall 106-pounder, the Warwick sophomore capitalizes on his leverage against opponents.
"(Josh) is at a weight class where almost everybody else will be freshmen and sophomores," Bushong said, "so that’s an advantage because he doesn’t run into the big juniors and seniors."
Logan Stroh (9-8) at 113, Cody Diem (10-8) at 120, Colin Schnupp (12-7) at 145, Ryan Gray (4-3) at 152 and Mitch Mellinger (7-7) at 170 all had at least .500 records prior to their match vs. the Blue Streaks on Wednesday.
"I have four or five that are capable of placing high," Bushong said, "and then the other ones, they’re going to have to wrestle a good tournament to come out (with a medal)."
Team-wise, Bushong is hopeful for his Warriors to place in the top five or six.
"I think that would be realistic," he said. "But maybe we’ll be lucky if we’re in the middle of the pack. It depends how the kids wrestle. I would say it should probably go Solanco, Township, Garden Spot. I think those are your top three teams … But it’s all to get ready for the end of the season. If we get the experience here, when it comes to Sectionals, that’s where it really counts."
For the Barons, meanwhile, Sunderland believes that a top-10 finish isn’t out of reach.
"I think that’s realistic for us, probably," Sunderland said. "Just seeing Garden Spot and Manheim Township at the Panther Duals (last weekend) and they had a number of kids out of their lineup that affected their performance. Whether those kids will be back in the lineup, I don’t know."
Manheim Central will have an open weight at 182, and their 170-pounder was a question mark for the tournament as of deadline.
"It’s going to be tough for us I think. I think we probably have a stronger dual meet team than an individual tournament (team)," Sunderland said. "For us to do well, kids like Ben Metzler, A.J. Votano and Aaron Lefever have to have good tournaments and score us a lot of points. But I think it will probably be our strongest lineup … We’re healthy and we’ve got some guys that have been out of the lineup that are now in the lineup due to the weight allowance, as well as just a couple of kids that have come back." More L-L TOURNEY, page B-8