|IAC WRESTLING: WITH NUMBERS UP, WAVERLY COACH BELIEVES PROGRAM ON ITS WAY BACK (2018-12-05)
By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY — Numbers are up and Waverly wrestling coach Devan Witman believes the once-mighty Wolverine wrestling program is taking its first steps back to prominence.
“We have better numbers than we’ve seen in a long time. We’ve definitely doubled up on what we had last year,” said Witman. “We have 22 on the roster right now, which is great.
“Most of the roster are kids coming back from last year, but we have a few up from modified, a few returning to the program after a year or two off, and a few newcomers,” he noted. “Most of the guys in the room have wrestled with me before.”
With numbers up, Witman said the favorite part of his job begins.
“Numbers are one thing, but taking those numbers and making them into wrestlers is another.
“We have a lot work to do, but that’s the work I enjoy doing,” he said. “The struggle to get the kids in the room is tough, and it’s something you have to do, but to make a kid a wrestler is why we’re here.”
Eighth-grader Connor Stotler will man the 99-pound weight class for the Wolverines this season, while junior newcomer Zack Reeves will wrestle 106, and senior Nick Spinner or freshman newcomer Dalton Manuel will wrestle at 113.
Junior Rylan Laforest will wrestle at 120 pounds, with senior Colby Sindoni at 126, and freshman Garrett Skeens at 132 pounds. Newcomer Madison Yeakel and modified grad freshman Cole Stanton could also see action at 120 and 126.
Senior Cody Chandler will wrestle at 138, with modified grad freshman Tristan Kovacs also vying for mat time there, and junior Ethan Stotler will spend the season at 145 pounds. Junior Lexy Streeter could see action at 132 or 138 this season.
“Ethan is our 145-pounder, he won’t be moving around,” said Witman. “He’ll grow into the weight class, and he’s looking for big things this year.”
The next four weight classes are in a bit of flux as the season begins.
“From 152 to 182 there is a mixture of wrestlers,” said Witman.
Sophomore newcomer Kaden Kipling and junior Austin Snyder will view for time at 152, while sophomores Austin Kimble and Adam Richart and Trevor Meyers and modified grad freshman Andrew Kimble are all at 160 pounds.
“Between the four of our 160-pounders, we’ll try to man 160 and 170, as well as 182 for a couple of weeks,” said Witman, who expects modified grad freshman Gage Tedesco to be on the scene by mid-December.
Witman doesn’t expect to have a 195-pounder this season, and says the Wolverines won’t have a 220-pounder earlier in the season.
“Barring injuries, 195 pounds is the only weight class I don’t see us filling at all this season. We may have to wait awhile to fill 220, but hopefully that will happen soon.”
Sophomore newcomer Hunter Rando and junior Trent Skeens, who wrestled varsity as an 8th-grader, are both at 285 pounds, but one will eventually drop to 220.
“Both are light for 285, so it’s a race to see who gets to 220 pounds first,” said Witman.
The Wolverines are coming off a 6-14 duals season, and Witman believes his team will surpass six wins this season.
“As a team, I think it would be an accomplishment if we can get above the .500 mark — it’s a mark we haven’t seen in quite some time,” said Witman. “Last year, in my short time as head coach, was our best year with six wins, and I think we’ll win many more than that this year.
“I know some people still look at Waverly as being down and out, but with the tradition we have we’re going to turn some heads this year,” he added.
Witman believes the Wolverines have several wrestlers to watch this season, led by two-time Section IV place-winner Ethan Stotler and Laforest.
“It’s been Ethan’s goal to make it to States for two years,” said Witman. “He was fourth as a freshman, and third as a sophomore … now he’s looking to make the state tournament. He doesn’t want to be an alternate or a wildcard, he wants to be a Section champion.
“Last year, Rylan (Laforest) won more than 20 matches in only his second year. This year, he’s looking to place high at Sectionals,” noted Witman. “I’m looking for big things from him.
“Garrett (Skeens) had a great year as a 99-pounder last year, but was ill at the end of the year and couldn’t finish at Sectionals,” he said. “He’s growing into a new weight class, so it will be interesting. I expect good things from him.
“Colby Sindoni took a year off, but he came back like he never left,” added Witman. “He looks great, and I think with his technique and his ability, he’s going to excel. He’s a leader in the room, and I’m glad he’s back.”
Witman also believes he has several wrestlers who could surprise people in 2018-19.
“Austin Kimble was a couple of rounds away from placing at Sectionals,” said Witman. “He was just a few mistakes away from being a very good wrestler. I think he looks back at last year and realizes his mistakes, and he’s working hard to tighten up those mistakes.
“He’s a hard worker, a leader in the room and is always at 110 percent.
“Connor (Stotler) was really light last year,” said Witman. “He’ll still be a little small at 99, but he’s finally starting to grow into his weight. I think his time on varsity will serve him well this year. He’s ready to show what he can do.
“I think Trent (Skeens) and (Hunter) Rando will turn some heads this year as well,” added Witman.
The Wolverines opened the 2018-19 campaign last weekend at the Mark Stephens Classic in Horseheads, and went 1-6. Witman said he’s looking to make his schedule a little tougher, beginning this year.
“We’re headed to a new tournament in Danville this year,” he said. “There will be some tough Pa. teams there, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for. It will be a tough test for us.”
Waverly will also compete at the Wyalusing Duals, Windsor Christmas Tournament, and the Oneonta Rotary Tournament, and has added Towanda to its duals schedule.
AROUND THE IAC: “Tioga is certainly the team to beat,” said Witman. “They are probably the team to beat in the Section and the state, too. They return a lot of talented wrestlers.
“Tioga is at the level we’re aspiring to,” added Witman. “The tradition at Waverly has been to compete with Tioga for the IAC and Section title year-in and year-out. We’re not at that level yet, but I think we’re on our way.”
Waverly opens the 2018-19 IAC duals season Wednesday night when it hosts Newark Valley.
IN PHOTO: Waverly’s Ethan Stotler. ... PHOTO BY CARRIE GRAY.
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