SEASON PREVIEW: HUBBARD
Brian Vaupel's first year as the head coach of the Hubbard High wrestling team was a season of transition. Transition, that is, for Vaupel, who was replacing a successful predecessor in Don Newell, and transition for the Eagles, who were struggling to survive the loss of a great many upperclassmen.
The result was an overall record of 3-13 and a 1-3 mark in Division II of the Eastern Ohio Wrestling League (EOWL).
This season, however, promises to be a different story.
Although Hubbard is still young with just one senior on the roster, the Eagles are vastly more experienced then they were a year ago. In fact, 10 letterwinners return.
They include: sophomore Billy Kehler (119 pounds), sophomore Jeremy May (125), sophomore Billy Pitoscia (135), junior Scott Watkins (140), junior Chris Horton (145), junior Tom McFarland (145), sophomore Sean Kendall (152), junior Brian Logan (160), junior Chris Sikora (171), junior Matt Clark (189) and senior Haldon Franko (heavyweight).
Also expected to see action are freshman Jon Cook at 103, sophomore Chris Duncan at 130, freshman Joe Horton at 140, freshman Anthony Fidram at 152 and freshman Carl Zents at 135.
At the present time, Vaupel doesn't have anyone to compete in the 112-pound bracket, but he's hopeful that either Kehler or sophomore Mitch Seccorsci can wrestle there.
With the Hubbard High football team advancing to the regional finals in Division III, one might think that would have an adverse effect on the start of the wrestling season. According to Vaupel, however, that hasn't been the case.
"We have a lot of good kids coming back," said Vaupel. "We've had a couple of great weeks of practice, too, even though a lot of the kids were on the football team. One good thing about the football team's playoff run is that the enthusiasm from the football field has carried over to the wrestling mat."
Hubbard is one of four squads in Division II of the EOWL. The others are Liberty, West Branch and Salem. Girard, which was located in the same division as the Eagles last season, dropped down to Division III.
Although Hubbard is still relatively young, Vaupel indicated that his athletes have high expectations for the upcoming campaign.
"One of our preliminary goals is to win our division in the Eastern Ohio League, the Division II championship," he said. "We're looking forward to a very exciting season. The kids are working really hard. It's going to be a lot different this year. We have all new uniforms and warm-ups, so we look a lot better, too."
Although this is Vaupel's second year as a head coach at Hubbard, he was also an assistant for six seasons. Vaupel's staff includes Rob Kelley; Tom McFarland Sr.; Greg May; Don Lehman, a former two-time state qualifier at Hubbard; and Bruce Hinkle, Hubbard graduate and former NCAA Division III national champion. -- By Herald writer Matt Deutsch
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