2017-2018 Bobcat Wrestling Preview (12/06/2017)
(By CSZ Sports Writer Kenn Staub) Heading into the 2017-2018 wrestling season Coach Brian Luton is cautiously optimistic that his squad can be one of the top teams in District 9. To do this the Bobcats will need to maintain or improve upon the 12-7 dual meet record they posted last year. This isn’t going to necessarily be an easy task, as Clarion will have to replace the team points lost by the graduation of Mike LeFay. LeFay went 29-7 in 2016-2017 and was a regional qualifier. As Coach Luton noted, any time you lose a wrestler of that caliber, somebody needs to step up and try to fill the hole.
When talking about the team Coach Luton observed that some of his grapplers are currently a little banged up, the result of a football season that went deep into the playoffs. Coach Luton feels the team will be fully healthy by the first of the year, however, and ready to build toward the postseason. According to Coach Luton, “We know where we have to be and we know where we have to grow.”
Coach Luton discussed his projected line-up, commenting that some wrestlers will in all likelihood be changing weights as others recuperate from early season bumps and bruises.
113lbs.-Logan Dehner: Dehner, a junior, posted a 21-10 record last season. As one of the more experienced wrestlers in the line-up, Coach Luton will be looking to him to get consistent points.
132lbs.-Colton Zacheral: This will be the North Clarion sophomore’s first season on the mat. Coach Luton described Zacheral as having a competitive nature, though he did note this inexperienced wrestler will need some time to develop.
138lbs.-Wyatt Stimmell: Stimmell, a freshman from North Clarion, wrestled during junior high and is entering his first varsity season. Coach Luton believes he will get some good experience during the coming campaign.
145lbs.-Cutter Boggess: Boggess, a freshman, was described as having a ton of raw potential, able to do things naturally. Coach Luton believes Boggess could have some instant success if he can quickly adjust to varsity-level competition.
145/152lbs.-Ryley McMasters: McMasters is entering his senior season looking to get healthy, with Coach Luton anticipating him in the line-up by Christmas. One of the more experienced Bobcat grapplers, McMasters, a co-captain in 2016-2017, went 17-12 last season, finishing fifth at the Patrick J. Morales Memorial Tournament in Falconer, NY.
152lbs.-Frank Weber: Weber is in his senior season and looking to build upon is 18-10 record from a year ago. Among his accomplishments in 2016-2017 was a runner-up finish at the Morales Memorial Tournament. Coach Luton said the Bobcat squad is going to lean on this returning co-captain for guidance, as well as points on the mat.
160lbs.-Colton Rapp: Rapp, a senior, is a two-time regional qualifier. The 2016-2017 co-captain posted a 23-5 record last season, finishing fifth at the Fred Bell Memorial Tournament in Grove City and third at the Morales Memorial Tournament. His campaign was derailed prior to last year’s postseason by an injury. Coach Luton is looking forward to Rapp’s return to the mat when he recovers from an injury sustained during the football season.
170lbs.-Camden Boggess: Boggess wrestled for Keystone last season, going 10-16 for the Panthers. Coach Luton described this junior grappler as having a lot of raw talent, though it was noted he still needs to hone some technique. Because of his intensity and mindset Coach Luton is looking for Boggess to have a break-out season.
182lbs.-Nick Porciello: Porciello comes to Clarion after competing for the past several seasons in Maryland. Coach Luton is encouraged by what he sees from the junior, noting he is athletic and has a good attitude.
182lbs.-Seth Nellis: Nellis, a senior, has been around the program. Coach Luton said the wrestler, who went 15-14 in 2016-2017, started to come on last year and he expects this to continue during the season ahead.
195lbs.-Colt Stimmell: Coach Luton reported that Stimmell was injured most of last year. He notched an 8-9 record in 2016-2017 and finished sixth at the Morales Memorial Tournament. The North Clarion senior was described as athletic and in possession of considerable raw talent.
195lbs.-Ben Smith: Smith was a regional qualifier as a freshman last season. The Clarion-Limestone grappler went 18-10, finishing sixth at the Morales Memorial Tournament and fourth at the District 9 Tournament in Clearfield. Coach Luton noted that Smith has the ideal attitude for a young wrestler and always gives 100%. Smith is currently recovering from an appendectomy.
220lbs.-Josh Gearhart: Gearhart, a junior from North Clarion, is a first-year wrestler. He is learning the sport and will benefit from the mat time he gets this season.
220lbs.-Tom Wurster: One of the Bobcat’s most successful wrestlers last season, Wurster went 23-10, winning the Morales Memorial Tournament and finishing fifth at the Fred Bell Tournament. He placed second at the District 9 Tournament, qualifying for regionals. Coach Luton said that Wurster is quick for his size, which often creates mismatches for other kids on the mat.
285lbs.-Matt Coleman: The Clarion-Limestone junior was 3-10 last season in his first year of competition. Coleman is strong, but needs mat time to build experience.
Coach Luton is assisted by Matt Watterson. Tim Ammoroso, Kyle Cathcart, Cameron Slike, and Alex Struble also provide volunteer support. This year’s regular season schedule includes ten dual meets, six away and four home. The 2017-2018 schedule also features the Redbank Valley Duals and two individual tournaments, the Partick J. Morales Memorial Tournament (Falconer, NY) and Fred Bell Memorial Wrestling Tournament (Grove City). The District 9 Class A Tournament is scheduled for March 23-24 at Clearfield High School.
The junior high wrestling team is coached by Matt Liggett, a senior at Clarion University and former member of the Golden Eagle Wrestling Team. This season’s junior high schedule opens with a home tournament on Saturday, December 9, followed by five way dual meets and four home matches.
(Best wishes for a successful 2017-2018 season)