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After going 6-1 and finishing in second place in Division 1 of the Berks Wrestling League last season, there are high hopes of another big season, possibly even contending for a division title.
They have some quality wrestlers and some good young kids coming up who will have to make an impact. But the 2012 Eagles will have to make up for the loss of Joe Giorgio, Mike Kern and Jake Buczewski - all lost to graduation from last year’s team. Those are three great wrestlers who will be hard to replace.
Still, Head Coach Jonathan Rugg is very optimistic about the upcoming season.
“We’re really looking forward to the season,” said Coach Rugg. “We saw a lot of our younger guys start to step it up at the end of the year, and we’ve put a ton of work in during the offseason, so we’re expecting to be in the hunt for some hardware this year.”
With the loss of the big three, the Eagles lost some key leaders on the team, but that isn’t really a concern for Coach Rugg. He has the leaders to step up, he just needs to get a lot out of his younger wrestlers.
“It seems like we’re young every year, but the next year always feels younger for some reasonm,” said Rugg. “We have a solid group of leaders on the team and we’re looking to get some of our younger guys into the line-up this year also. I don’t know that we’re any younger or more experienced, but it’s going to be a task to make up the points we lost from graduation.”
James Moran is going to be one of the key wrestlers that will have to try to make up for what the team has lost. He has the skill to do just that and will be counted on to have another great season after qualifying for the districts last year.
“I think he’s well aware of what his goals should be for this year,” said Coach Rugg about Moran. “Anything less than qualifying for a trip to the state tournament for James will be disappointing. He’s put a lot of work in during the offseason and is coming off a solid football campaign.
“He’s going to focus on conditioning in the early part of the season this year. Coming into his junior year, it was about getting his timing back and getting back to wrestling shape. This year, the ramp up should be quicker.”
Alex Kramer is another state qualifier from last year’s team who simply continued to improve his game every time on the mat. This year could be a breakout year for the senior. His potential is high.
“This is a new year, and Alex will be aggressive in his goal setting this year,” said Rugg. “He’s a phenomenal student, so he sees the potential of continuing the sport at the collegiate level, and recognizes that outworking the competition this year is going to be the key. Alex has put a ton of work in during the offseason, getting bigger and stronger, without sacrificing his quickness. We’re expecting him to be a handful, going against a lot of kids that have never seen him before in competition.”
beginning his third year as a starter on the team will be Tristan Watts. He made the districts last year as a sophomore and much more is expected of him this year.
“As a Junior, he’s now someone we’re looking to for leadership on the team, and getting us off to a strong start and setting the tone,” said Rugg. “He got a taste of Districts last year, qualifying by avenging an earlier loss, so, he knows what he is capable of, and we’re going to make sure he pushes himself to get there.”
Another returning qualifier is Naoh Yost. He missed much of last year after suffering a concussion. “Having him in the line-up for a couple of our closer matches last year would have made a difference in the outcome,” said Rugg. “We’re now looking forward to having him back at 100%.”
Another wrestler to watch for is freshman Brett Kulp who will wrestle at 106. He had a tremendous junior high wrestling career and Coach Rugg thinks he has the skills that will transfer to the high school level.
“He’s a year-round worker and a very talented freshman, so we’re expecting some big things from him - both in the room and out on the mat.”
The goal this year, as it is every year, is to win thje division and at least wrestle well in the league playoffs. Last year the team qualified for the District Team Tournament and they would certainly like to get back there and make some noise.
What Rugg likes about his team is their heart - they never give up. “We don’t quit. It’s not allowed,” said Rugg. “We push the action all the time, and wrestle the entire six minutes. If you’re overlooking one of our kids, you haven’t done your homework.”
This team has the leadership and the skills to compete for a division title. The question will be whether the younger wrestlers learn quick enough to make this a championship team.