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With improved depth, Warriors hope to challenge in Section One
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
A year ago, the Warwick wrestlers went into the season dangerously close to giving up forfeits at a couple of weights.
They had to hold their breath a bit hoping that injuries wouldn’t deplete a roster that wasn’t very deep from the get-go.
Looking toward the 2012-13 season, that shouldn’t be a problem for the Warriors.
"It’s the best numbers we’ve had in probably six or seven years," Warwick coach Ned Bushong said. "They’re looking pretty good. We have good numbers, a good amount of experience coming back and a real nice group that’s coming up from the junior high team, so we’re feeling pretty good about the season."
That group of returnees includes a nucleus of nine seniors, led by returning PIAA State qualifier Tom Devenney, who was 36-5 last year. Others on that list include Donnie Erb (6-20), Tyler Esbenshade (5-2), Ryan Gray (17-13), Matt Mousetis (15-22), Ethan Quinn (14-20), Zach Sayevski (2-30), Colin Schnupp (24-17) and Steve Woolley, who spent last season at the Fishburne Military Academy in Waynesboro, Va.
Although the Warriors graduated Cody Diem (20-19), Mitch Mellinger (13-14) and Cody Shoenberger (District qualifier, 40-8) from the squad that finished 5-2 in Section One last year, they will have eight seniors filling the 14 spots in the lineup.
"We’re going to depend heavily on (the seniors)," Bushong remarked. "They’re going to have to pull us through."
Of course, they also have several younger wrestlers who figure to make an impact this winter, including freshman 106-pounder Devin Schnupp, a two-time Elizabethtown Tournament champ who won both the Greco-Roman and freestyle championships in the Cadet Division at the U.S. Nationals in Fargo, N.D. this past summer.
Junior Josh Charles (23-12 in 2011-12) will start at 113 after getting a win under his belt at Districts last year, and sophomores Marcus Tout (14-0 with junior high) and JT Gross are battling for the job at 120.
"They’ll battle for us and do well," Bushong said. "I feel pretty good about those guys, either one of them."
Tout and Gross are two of 12 sophomores competing on the squad this year.
"We had a real good carry over from our middle school team coming into the high school team," Bushong said. "… When you have numbers, it gives you depth. That means you can fill your positions, you don’t have to forfeit anything and you have practice partners to push you. It just makes it better."
Junior Logan Stroh (21-18) should push a lot of his opponents this winter while starting at 126, and sophomore Jakob Kempinski is right behind him.
"(Jakob) is looking strong for us," Bushong said.
In the 132-pound weight class, either senior three-year varsity letter winner Ethan Quinn (14-20) and senior Ryan Esbenshade (5-2) will start for the Warriors.
"Both of them are solid wrestlers, so I feel good there," Bushong said.
Another solid competitor in senior three-year varsity letter winner Matt Mousetis (15-22) will hold things down at 138, while senior Donnie Erb (6-20) appears to have the inside track for the 145-pound position.
"Last year, Donnie was wrestling at 182. We had to struggle to keep him at 160 so he could wrestle there," Bushong said.
Senior Colin Schnupp (24-17), one of six 20-win wrestlers for Warwick last year, gets the nod at 152, where junior Kameron Kline (6-8) and sophomore Evan Havemann will provide depth for the Warriors.
Following a year at military school, Woolley is back with the Warriors this winter and looking strong in the 160-pound weight class.
"He’s solid," Bushong said. "He’s spent a lot of time lifting and he’s going to be pretty solid for us."
Senior Ryan Gray (17-13) and junior Addison Good will handle the 170 and 182-pound weight classes, with Avery Quinn as a back-up in the latter spot.
At 195, Carson Snavely, who started there last year and went 16-24, and sophomore David Brubaker, up from the junior high, are wrestling off for the starting spot.
Sophomore Austin Maguire, a reiging Elizabethtown Tourney champ, is giving Sayevski a challenge for the job in the 225-pound weight class.
"(Austin)’s got some size to him, he’s got good strength, he’s pretty well coordinated," Bushong said. "So we’re looking for a lot of improvement out of him as the year goes on."
Last but not least is Devenney, who will be the Warriors’ heavyweight again this winter after winning his first Sectional crown last year, then taking bronze at Districts and falling just short of the State medal round.
"Last year, he lost in the first round of States to the eventual runner-up (Westmont Hilltop’s Josh Duplin), so we’re looking for some pretty good things out of him," Bushong said. "We’re counting on him for his leadership and experience, having been there before. And with his success that he’s had in football, we’re looking to keep it going and have him end up with a more successful year in wrestling that we had last year. But we’re looking at it that, as a team, they all put it together and come through. We have a lot of seniors, so there’s a lot of shared leadership to go around."
In addition to the veteran leadership, Bushong likes the balance that his Warriors have up and down the lineup. Only time will tell as to how they will fare against reigning Section king Solanco and Manheim Township. Warwick’s only two leagues losses last year came against the Mules (57-18) and Blue Streaks (44-23).
"I do (have good expectations)," Bushong said, "but it’s one of those things — barring any injuries and illness, we should be competitive. I don’t know if we have enough to make a run at Solanco or Township, but we have enough that we’ll give them a good battle."
The Warriors are also hoping to give Lancaster Catholic a good battle when they face off tonight (Thursday) in their non-league opener in Lancaster.
"Catholic isn’t a team to be taken lightly," Bushong said. "They have a nice bunch of returning wrestlers, so we’re going to have some real nice matchups in there." More WHS MATMEN, page B-8