By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY — Waverly wrestling coach Devan Witman has beefed up his program’s numbers in recent years. Now, he says, it’s time to beef up its win totals and qualify for the Section IV Duals in 2019-20.
“We are still young, but we have some guys who are hungry, and have put a lot of hard work and time in the room.
“I’d like to see us qualify for the Section IV Duals Championship,” said WItman. “Just to make the show would be a tremendous accomplishment for these guys, especially some of our seniors, like Ethan (Stotler), Rylan (Laforest), and Trent (Skeens), who have not experienced it.
“We have a long way to go to be able to win it, but I think the guys are working toward that goal,” he noted. “I think by the end of the year, we have a top-five team here.
“For individuals, I think we have a host of guys who can do well and place in our Section,” added Witman. “I think we have the potential to get a couple of guys to States.”
Waverly’s top two candidates to advance to States are senior Ethan Stotler, who was 36-6 last year and finished second in Section IV, and sophomore Garrett Skeens, who was 28-17, but finished the season by winning 18 of his last 22 bouts, and finished third in the Section.
“Ethan has goals, and he’s not shy about telling people about them,” said Witman. “He wants to make the state finals, and win a state championship. He’s doing everything he can to make it happen.
“And Garrett is looking to improve off his third-place finish at Sectionals last year.
“He’s been working hard in the room. He’s looking a lot better at the beginning of the season than he did last year,” noted Witman. “He started at 132 last year, too, but he wasn’t a true 132-pounder.
“He went all the way down to 120 at the end of last season,” added Witman. “Now, at 132, he’s really filled out. He’s certified for 126, possibly, after the break.”
The Wolverines, who improved from 3-10 in 2017-18 to 6-13 last year, won’t field a complete line-up this season as they lack a 99-pounder.
“We’ll have one or two holes in our line-up, so the guys we have will have to make up for that,” said Witman.
Freshman Connor Stotler or newcomer freshman Mason Ham will start at 106.
“Mason is up from the junior high team,” said Witman. “He is super athletic, and could get some starts.
Senior Madison Yeakel or Ham will get the nod at 113, while the other will fill the 120-pound spot.
Senior Rylan Laforest (25-13) will wrestle at 126 pounds.
“It’s his senior year, Rylan wants to make a splash in Section IV,” said Witman.
Garrett Skeens will start the season at 132 pounds, while sophomore Cole Stanton or newcomer freshman Lilyparker Ennis will wrestle at 138 pounds, and newcomer freshman Braeden Hills will man the 145-pound spot.
“Braeden had a great year on the junior high team last year,” said Witman. “He’s very athletic.”
Junior Austin Kimble (18-22) will fill the 152-pound weight class.
“Austin is still looking for that break-out year. He’s been so close the past couple years,” said Witman. “For him, it’s eliminating mistakes. He’s working hard in the room, and is primed to have that breakout year.”
Ethan Stotler will wrestle at 160 pounds, with junior Adam Richart, senior Austin Snyder, sophomore Andrew Kimble, and junior Kaden Kipling also eligible in that weight class, with one of them filling the 170-pound slot.
Junior Trevor Meyers (17-21) will wrestle at 182 pounds.
“Trevor has worked hard in the offseason,” said Witman. “He came in for extra practices, and is working very hard in the room now. I think he’s going to have a great year.”
Freshman Gage Tedesco, who posted an 8-11 record as an 8th-grader in a half-season, will man the 195-pound weight class.
“We only had him for a half-season last year, but he turned some heads,” said Witman. “He’s a go-getter, and there is no quit in him. If we can eliminate some of the mistakes he makes, he’s going to be a force in Section IV.”
The 220-pound weight class will be a hole early in the season, but senior Trent Skeens will eventually drop into that spot.
“Trent is looking strong,” said Witman. “If we can him moving on his feet a little more, he’s definitely someone to watch at 220 this year.”
Until Trent Skeens drops, he and Kam Peters will share the 285-pound chores.
While Ethan Stotler and Garrett Skeens are the main guys to keep an eye on in terms of advancing to States, Witman believes he has three other wrestlers capable of opening some eyes.
“Rylan Laforest was a ‘blood round’ guy last year. He was just a few points away from being a Section place-winner. He’s looking to improve and get into those placing-rounds.
“Unfortunately, he’s going to have to win a Section title if he wants to get into the state tournament,” said WItman, in reference to Laforest’s lack of wild card points.
“Austin Kimble was also a ‘blood round’ guys who came very close to placing,” continued WItman. “He’s at the same weight he was last year. At 152 pounds, he’s a little big bigger and a little bit stronger than last year.
“Gage Tedesco lost a 4-2 match in the ‘blood round,’” noted WItman. “He’s hungry and he wants it this year.
“He’s been very vocal about who he’s going after, and he’s going after the big names in the Section,” added Witman. “He believes he can win those matches, and I truly believe he’ll do everything in his power to accomplish his goals. He’s been working hard for it.”
ON THE IAC LARGE SCHOOL DIVISION
“Tioga is still on top until they’re dethroned,” said WItman. “I know (coach) Kris (Harrington) has the same mindset we have that you can never stop improving.
“SVEC returns some talent, led by (Parker) Sexton and Osumane (Duncanson), and they have good numbers,” noted Witman. “(Coach) Jesse Buck runs a good practice, and is a very knowledgable coach.
“Newark Valley still has a lot of talent in their line-up, and will be very tough.
“And, there are still a lot of talented individual wrestlers in the IAC, it’s still a wrestling league,” added Witman. “It’s going to be fun to watch the IAC Championship, and to see how the IAC stacks up against the other leagues in the postseason.”
IN PHOTO: Waverly’s Ethan Stotler.
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