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Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY — Waverly wrestling coach Devan Witman doesn’t have quite the roster he was expecting, and his team is off to a late start due to the football team’s run to a state title, but he still expecting good things in 2023-24.

“We have 23 on the roster … we were hoping to be around 30, so we’re a little off from what we thought we’d have.

“It’s definitely been a tough start to the season,” said Witman. “I’m super-proud of our football team, and what they accomplished, and I wouldn’t change that for anything … but it does set our timeline, and our preparation back a little bit.

“Even with the lower than expected numbers we have, we’ll just have to prepare that much harder to maintain that expectation,” he noted.

“We made the Section finals last year; that’s no longer our goal, it’s the expectation,” Witman added.

(The Wolverines are 3-4 on the season, and host Tioga tonight  in their first home dual.)

Witman expects 8th-grader Drayton DeKay to man the 101-pound spot once the two-pound allowance kicks in at the end of December. Until then, junior Jake Sinsabaugh, and 7th-grader Avery Bowman will see time there.

Freshman Rhylee Stotler will start the season at 116, but end it at 108, with freshman Caden Bradley at 124, then 116.

Senior Jake Besecker and freshman Nico Rae will start at 131, then slide down to 124. Eighth-grader Caden Vanderhoof could see time at either 124 or 131 as well.

Sophomores Josh Silva and Hudson Sink will shot from 139 to 131 at the end of December, while sophomore Brance VanDyke will wrestle 145, then drop to 139.

Senior Braeden Nichols will start the season at 152 pounds, then drop to 145, while freshman Parker Larson will start at 160 and drop to 152.

Junior Riley Pipher could see action at 160 or 170 pounds, and sophomore Skyler Perry and 8th-grader Jase Fravel, once he’s healthy, will see time at 170.

The Wolverines don’t have a true 190-pounder, but someone will likely bump up to fill the spot.

Returning state qualifiers — freshman Matthias Welles, and sophomore Troy Beeman — will fill the 215-pound and 285-pound slots for the Wolverines.

Witman expects Welles and Beeman to make the return trip to States in Albany this year, but says there are several other wrestlers to keep an eye on, most notably DeKay.

“I told Drayton (DeKay) last year, I thought it would be the last year he wasn’t competing in Albany,” said Witman. “I still firmly believe that, I think once he gets down to weight, he can go with some of the best guys in the state at 101.

“He’s a hammer, and he’s going to put up a lot of points for us this year,” noted Witman. “I’m excited to see what he can do.”

•  “Rhylee Stotler has shown tremendous improvement from last year,” said Witman. “He had a short season last year, so I’m excited to see what he does this year.

“He has potential to make some noise in the postseason, and made the podium in the top three,” he added.

•  “Caden Bradley is one of the hardest workers in our room, said Witman. “He has goals of making it to the state tournament. He’s definitely putting in the work to accomplish that.

• “Braeden Nichols knows it’s his senior year. He’s putting in the work, and expects to finish high at Sectionals,” Witman said.

Witman is also excited about the prospects of another youngster — freshman Parker Larson.

“A big surprise for us has been Parker Larson.

“He put in a lot of work over the summer, going to different tournaments, and doing some freestyle,” said Witman.

“He moves really well for an out-of-weight freshman. Once he gets into the weight class that he’s suppose to be in, I think he’ll make some noise in the Section,” he added.

Witman has high expectations for the Wolverines in 2023-24.

“Our expectation is to get better every day,” he said.

“I want to get to the Section IV Duals finals, and to continue to push to get individuals to the state tournament,” noted Witman. “Last year, we took five. I certainly see five who are possibilities this year, but it’s going to take work.

“A lot of our competitions early in the season … our Pennsylvania competitions set us up for what it’s going to take later on down the road,” he added. “I expect to get four or five guys to the state tournament again this year.”

“Obviously, until Tioga gets knocked off, they are still the one to beat,” said Witman.

“I think there are a lot of teams fighting for the other Sectional final spot,” he noted. “Windsor, Unatego, Walton and Maine-Endwell are teams we’ll have to battle to get back to the Sectional final, which is our expectation.

“My guess is our path to the finals is either through Windsor or Unatego,” he added.


IN PHOTO: Waverly coach Devan Witman (right) and assistant coach A.J. Aronstam. ... VSR STOCK PHOTO.

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