Young Warrior matmen looking to improve
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
When Warwick’s Cody Shoenberger walked off the mats last February at the District Three Wrestling Championships, he did so with a sense of optimism.
Not only would Shoenberger be returning for another season, but he was coming back with two District wins under his belt.
The future is now, and with Warwick ready to dive in to the 2011-12 season, Shoenberger has the distinction of being the Warriors’ only returning District qualifier.
"We’re looking for a lot out of (Cody) this year," Warwick boss Ned Bushong admitted.
That is particularly the case with a young squad surrounding him — and with depth being a big concern this winter. Warwick lost eight starters from the squad that finished 3-3 in Section One last year and bring back only 21 wrestlers for 14 weight classes.
Among those who have moved on include District qualifiers Bryan McCall (37-7), Ian Stoeckl (20-17) and Dylan Stauffer (14-17), along with Cody Stockdale, Trevor Havemann and John Devenney.
"Most of our team is young kids," Bushong said. "(But) they’re working hard. It’s a good bunch of kids. We’ll do alright … We’ve got to really stay healthy, and you look at it and kind of figure, ‘How much are they going to grow and what are they going to do off-season?’"
Although Warwick is young, there is plenty of promise throughout a lineup which will wrestle under a newly-adopted weight class format. At 106, Josh Charles is one of three sophomores starting for the Warriors — and one of eight on the squad. Last year with the junior high squad, he finished 24-0 and won an Elizabethtown championship. Another sophomore, Logan Stroh, won a fifth-place medal at Leagues last year and he will be moving up to the 113-pound class this winter.
"We have some good kids that aren’t afraid to work, so they’re going to improve," Bushong said. "And I think we’re going to be in there and I think we’ll surprise a few people … But they have to stay healthy. We can’t afford injuries and we can’t afford somebody getting sick."
Returnee Cody Diem — one of just three seniors on the squad — starts at 120. Last year, he competed in the 130-pound class.
"We’re counting on (Cody) as a senior to do pretty well," Bushong said.
Junior Ethan Quinn, after seeing his promising freshman year cut short by an injury, returned last year to compete at 112 and he is back to fill the 126 spot. Junior 132-pounder Matt Mousetis also returns with two years of varsity experience. Junior Tyler Esbenshade is currently sidelined with an injury, but he could add depth down the line.
Moving into the middle weights, junior Evan Ney is a first-year varsity wrestler at 138, junior 145-pounder Colin Schnupp will be looking to build off of a solid 16-15 campaign last year, and junior Ryan Gray, up from the JV team, gets the starting nod at 152.
Shoenberger should be a steady point-scorer for the Warriors at 160, following a junior season in which he finished 31-15, and senior Mitch Mellinger, who wrestled as a sophomore, steps in at 171.
In the upper weights, sophomore Carson Snavely — who was 18-4 and placed at the E-town Tournament last year in junior high — is moving up to take the 195-pound spot, while junior Zach Sayevski starts at 220. Junior Tom Devenney, who was 16-6 last year and came within an eyelash of qualifying for Districts, returns at heavyweight.
"I expect a lot out of (Shoenberger and Devenney) this year," Bushong said. "In our Section, (Tommy) took fourth and the three guys that finished ahead of him were all seniors, so he should be there when you look at it that way. (Cody) was third in the Section last year and I think (Joe) Welk might have been ahead of him. He’s back from Solanco. It’s going to be tough … (But) we have some good potential. We have Devenney, Shoenberger, Schnupp, Charles, Stroh — we’ve got (five) right there that should win most of their matches."
With the bulk of their roster comprised of underclassmen, Bushong and his staff are just hoping to see steady progress.
"I think we have enough that we could have maybe six or seven guys qualify for Districts," Bushong said. "That would be placing in the top three in the Section. But it depends on how much they improve during the year and how much they’re willing to work."
They will certainly have to work hard to compete against the likes of Solanco and Manheim Township in Section One. Bushong is predicting the Golden Mules and Blue Streaks to place at the top of the pack, with third and fourth place up for grabs.
"(Township) has four or five kids right through the lightweights and middle weights that they’re going to be real hard to beat," Bushong said. "Solanco’s going to be solid from top to bottom. The last three years, they cleaned up at the E-town tournament — I mean, nobody’s come close to them. I look at it as it’s going to be Solanco number one, Township number two and then it’s going to be pretty much (teams battling for) third and fourth. That could be any of us. I mean, Cedar Crest has some good kids back, they’re pretty solid. McCaskey always has some good athletes. Penn Manor has the numbers. Hempfield had a real good freshman class last year. So I’m looking at it and saying, ‘OK, first and second, (Solanco and Township) are in there. Now it’s going to be a battle as to who comes in third and fourth." More WHS MATMEN, page B-8