Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — Armed with good numbers, Athens wrestling coach Shawn Bradley said the Wildcats are focused on building on their work over the summer as the 2019-20 preseason opens.
“For the most part our numbers are good, we have 22 or 23 kids in the room.
“We have a small senior class, and we had a couple (seniors) not come out that we wish would have,” said Bradley. “(But) we have a super-large group of sophomores, and a good group of freshmen coming in.
“We’re excited,” he added.
The numbers are even better in the younger ranks.
“We had 30 kids signed up for junior high, which is awesome,” said Bradley.
“(Junior high coach) Jeremiah (Serfas) does a great job getting kids signed up, and getting them there,” he noted. “They’re learning late, but they’re learning, and that’s awesome.
Bradley notes the Wildcats also have between 75 and 80 grapplers in their youth program.
“Our offseason was really good, so our focus is just building upon what we did in the offseason,” said Bradley.
“We had four kids wrestle more than 30 matches, and we had one wrestle 72 matches,” he noted. “Plus, (assistant coach) Jay (White) set up a weight-lifting program and they’re lifting two or three times a week.
“These kids worked their asses off this summer, now it’s time to get prepared, and compete,” Bradley added.
Bradley and assistant coach Jay White always look to schedule a tough tournament schedule, and this year is no different.
“Our Jarvis Tournament should be tough again this year,” he said. “We’ll have 12 to 14 teams from three different states.
“We’re wrestling in a bunch of dual-meet tournaments this year,” noted Bradley. “We’re going to Ridgway, which is usually a tough one, and we’ll go to the Mifflin County Duals — they are one of the better teams in the State and that tournament is always a good one.
“We’re going to Oneonta Rotary, which is a little bit different for us, and then we’ll go to Bedford, which is always a test for us, and probably the best (Class) AA tournament in the State.
“We had to get out of the Niagara Falls tournament because they changed the date; that was a great a tournament for us, and it’s a shame we can’t go back,” he said.
“Duals meets are tough, because teams can dodge your best kids, but I think we’ll get tested,” added Bradley. “Hopefully, we’ll run into teams that want to wrestle, not just win dual meets.
IN PHOTO 1: Athens’ Karter Rude (blue) and Gavin Bradley. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
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