SEASON PREVIEW: COMMODORE PERRY
The Panthers roared out of the gates to open the season with a second place at the tough Blairsville Tournament last weekend and coach Dave Reichard is looking for bigger and better things.
CP finished second to AAA powerhouse Clearfield and posted three champions, Hayden Hawthorne (103), Greg Slater (135) and Mike Chess (275).
"I really feel I could have predicted it because our preseason and practices to this point have been very intense," said Reichard, in his third year as head coach after several years as assistant. "We've had a real workmanship attitude from everybody and everyone has the same goal. It's a real pleasure to coach this year, there's no one individual who isn't there for the right reasons."
Reichard welcomed back a veteran squad, losing only one starter (Mike Schiemer, a regional qualifier) to graduation.
"We have 12 lettermen returning," said Reichard. "The Commodore Perry program is ready to take on the challenges ahead. Following three seasons of rebuilding, we're primed to succeed."
Among the key returnees for CP is Slater, a senior who was a state qualifier last season.
"He's working hard and is prepared to go all the way this year," said Reichard.
Regional qualifiers Chess and Mike Cusick also return to boost the quality level. Sophomore Hawthorne, an undersized section champ who has grown into a true 103-pounder, should provide a big start each match for the Panthers, followed at 112 by freshman Ben Loutzenhiser. Sophomores Treg Smith and Jeff Ramer are competing for the 119 and 125 slots, with Chris Moerke or sophomore Jim Sowash at 130. Slater will open the season at 135, but probably drop.
Sophomores Gary Arbuckle and Jared Reichard, son of the coach, will be battling for slots at 140 and 145 along with seniors Aaron Knauff and Tyler Powell, and freshman Justin Dodson. Senior Ben Willaman will probably fill the 152 post, followed by senior Justin Ramer or sophomore Jeff Rice at 160. Cusick, a senior, will be at 171, pushed by junior Brandon Hoover.
One of the aforementioned matmen will move up to fill the 189 post, while Chess will hold down the 275 class.
"Our seniors have really stepped it up to take a leadership role," said Reichard. "Last year we did real well in the postseason and that built up morale and enthusiasm for this season. These kids know what they have to do.
"At the Section 2 tournament the last two years, I made the statement that we would be competitive. This year I believe we're going to be knocking on championship doors."
Reichard is assisted with the varsity by his nephew, Joe Reichard, while Roger King and Jonathan Bailey work with the junior high. Elementary coaches are Robbie Powell, Wayne Smith and Randy Burnett.
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