SEASON PREVIEW: GROVE CITY
Grove City lost a lot of veteran wrestlers to graduation last year, but veteran coach Marty Ruley, the dean of Mercer County coaches, never loses his sense of humor.
"We're very young this year," said Ruley, "But we make up for being young by not having any experience."
Gone to graduation were the likes of D.J. Johnson, Ty Wise, Justin Cook and Don Lewis.
"They were all 25 to 30 match winners for us last year," said Ruley.
The Eagles found out how tough the season could be without those stalwarts when they opened last weekend at the rugged Blairsville tournament. The only bright spots were Desmond Johnson grabbing a first place at 160 and Derek Hedglin placing third at 189.
"It's pretty indicative of what we have," said Ruley. "It's a good indicator for where we are and the kids had to know. We have young kids with very little experience and in a tournament like that, with teams like Clearfield and Seneca Valley, there are a lot of quality kids.
"We need to do what we can to keep it together until these kids get more experience. We're hoping for a good Christmas vacation to get some work done. After the Jamestown (N.Y) Tournament (Dec. 15-16) we're done until January. The more we're on the mat in the practice room, the better they're going to be. It takes time to get experience, we've got to drill and drill and drill."
One plus this season is the Eagles return to Class AA, like the rest of the teams in Mercer County.
"I'm kind of happy about that," said Ruley, whose team competed in AAA the last two seasons. "I've never been fond of being in AAA."
While there will be some changes in weights during the season, the 103 slot will be filled by Brian Agusto, a senior transfer from Puerto Rico, or freshmen Tom Reed and Steve Chapman. At 112 it will be Reed or Rob Caruso, a junior from Pine-Richland. Erin Tomeo, senior letterwinner, will be at 119, pushed by freshman Ryan Johnson.
The 125 class will be filled by either Kent Peterson, junior, or sophomore letterman Dan Griffin, while senior letterman Ryan Rossi will be at 130. Either Joe Ennis, freshman, or sophomore Kevin Lee will be at 135, followed at 140 by junior letterman Frank Christy.
A pair of frosh, Ryan Alger and Dan Schrott, are competing for 145, with senior Jordan Filer or freshman Josh Bowser at 152. Senior letterman Desmond Johnson will be at 160, with competition at 171 between Filer, Bowser, junior Akeem Dennis or junior Jay Frank Cook.
Hedglin, a senior, will be at 189, backed by freshmen Kim Swanson, Chris Adams and Ron Eperthener. Competition is heavy at 275 between seniors Matt Alger and Tim Dixon, a pair of football players who are recovering from injuries, along with Andrew Eaton, junior, and freshman Jeff Miller.
Ruley is helped at the varsity level by long-time assistant Curtis Conner, with Deven Dittrich and Scott Lewis at the junior high. The elementary program is led by Ank Errera and others.
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