^^^This article is from the Bucknell University athletic site. –Allen (WR.com)
Bucknell Wrestling Opens 2008-09 Campaign Sunday Against No. 5 Missouri
Bison to Host One of Best Teams in Nation at 1 p.m.
Nov. 11, 2008
LEWISBURG, Pa. - The Bucknell wrestling team has had a successful first two years under head coach Dan Wirnsberger, who brought the program back to varsity status after his hire in May 2005. However, the bar will be raised this year as the squad will finally have experienced wrestlers as the first class of Wirnsberger's recruits enter their junior years in 2008-09.
The Bison have won 21 dual matches over the last two years and have had four wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Championships a total of six times. Wirnsberger expects to improve on that success now that he has talented wrestlers with experience for the first time.
"We are more mature and a year older," said Wirnsberger in the preseason. "We have a good group of juniors, experienced sophomores and a talented freshman class. I am excited about our progress and we continue to strive to reach our goals of becoming All-Americans and national champions."
With that experience, which Wirnsberger states is now taking on a larger leadership role, the Bison will face a difficult schedule in 2008-09 as they host preseason No. 5 Missouri in their season opener and make a trip to No. 1 Iowa in January. A handful of other ranked squads will also square off against Bucknell, which battled five ranked foes in 2007-08.
125 - Projected Starter: José Matos or Derek Reber
Sophomore José Matos and freshman Derek Reber, a standout at Lewisburg Area High School who chose Bucknell and will wrestle in front of his hometown fans for four years, will battle for the starting position at 125. Matos posted a 12-11 record as a freshman and placed in the top five at three different tournaments.
"José has a year under his belt and he knows what he is capable of, so we will expect even more from him this year," mentioned Wirnsberger.
Reber won a PIAA state title and was a NHSCA Senior National Finalist before arriving at Bucknell and posted a 3-1 win over Matos in the team's preseason intrasquad match.
"The 125-pound weight class is loaded with talent and we are expecting at least one of these two young men (Matos, Reber) to make an impact on the national scene."
133 - Projected Starter: David Marble
There is only one wrestler on the roster at 133 pounds and it is easy to see why. That wrestler is David Marble, a junior who has qualified for the NCAA Championships in each of his first two years as a Bison. Marble, who was nationally ranked most of last year, has a two career wins at the NCAA Championships and he finished second in the 133-pound weight class at the EIWA Championships last March.
Marble, who works closely with Bison assistant coach Dave Hoffman, has piled up a 51-22 career record with six wins by pinfall and 32 dual-match victories.
"David has been one of our most consistent performers the last two years," described Wirnsberger about the third-year team captain who was ranked nationally by a handful of preseason polls. "With his work ethic and experience, he could undoubtedly contend for an NCAA title."
141 - Projected Starter: Luke Chohany
Keep an eye on: Adam Healey
A starter in Bucknell's final 18 dual matches last season, Luke Chohany should hold onto his starting spot as he moves into his junior year. After wrestling just twice as a freshman in 2006-07, Chohany piled up 20 wins last year to rank fifth on the team. Six of those victories were against EIWA foes in dual matches as Chohany was 6-1 in those situations.
"Luke is our most dedicated student-athlete on the mat and in the classroom" commented Wirnsberger. "With his success in the second half of last year, I expect Luke to carry that momentum into this season and have a breakout campaign."
Depth at 141 is not a concern for Wirnsberger, who can also turn to freshmen Adam Healey and Wade Baldwin, who are both dedicated and talented young athletes.
149 - Projected Starter: Kevin LeValley
Keep an eye on: John Regan
Coming off a freshman campaign when he was the full-time starter, won seven of his first eight matches and posted a team-high 11 wins by major decision, Kevin LeValley should hold onto that position. However, junior Jack Conroy sophomore Gavin Johnston and freshman John Regan will push LeValley as the year moves along.
"With a terrific freshman year under his belt, we expect Kevin to perform at a very high level this season," predicted Wirnsberger, who is very confident about the talent and depth the team possesses at 149 pounds.
"We feel extremely comfortable and confident with Regan stepping into the starting role due to his strong work in the wrestling room."
157 - Projected Starter: Ryan Ochalek
Keep an eye on: Tyler Riccio
Wirnsberger sees as many as five wrestlers competing for time at 157 pounds, but Ryan Ochalek moved to the front of the line in the preseason thanks to the strides he made when training over the summer. Tyler Riccio, Scott Sechler and freshman Nicholas Czapla will push Ochalek for the starting spot in the young weight class that has three sophomores and one freshman.
165 - Projected Starter: Andy Rendos
Andy Rendos, a two-time NCAA qualifier and the program's seventh-best wrestler by winning percentage (.764), is slotted to start at 165 pounds once again. With 55 career wins the third-year team captain paces all current Bison and is in position to challenge Bobby Ferraro's career mark by the end of his career.
"With as much success as Andy has had the past two seasons, we know he is capable of moving up the ranks and contending for All-America status and an NCAA title," said Wirnsberger of his wrestler who was showered with preseason accolades. "He has progressed well in the offseason and will be looking to make a national statement this season."
174 - Projected Starter: Shane Riccio
The second of Bucknell's three weight classes with just one wrestler is the 174-pound weight class. Despite the lack of depth, there is much talent here as NCAA qualifier Shane Riccio posted a 25-11 record last year on his way to a wild card entry in the national tournament. Riccio was particularly strong in dual matches, going 15-2 and posting a 14-bout winning streak at one point.
"Shane has added size and strength in the offseason, which will benefit him greatly," mentioned Wirnsberger. "Through consistent training and preparation, he will put himself in position to earn All-America status."
184 - Projected Starter: David Thompson
Keep an eye on: Rob Waltko
Wirnsberger expects returning starter David Thompson to play a bigger role in 2008-09 as he embarks on his second season. Thompson was 17-13 last year with four major decisions, three pins and one technical fall accounting for nearly half of his victories.
In addition to Thompson, Wirnsberger expects Rob Waltko to have some success at 184 pounds after committing to training all summer in Lewisburg.
197 - Projected Starter: Jay Hahn
Keep an eye on: Nathan Jones
Wirnsberger views the 197-pound weight class as a key one for the success of the team in 2008-09. Last year three different wrestlers started at the weight, including current junior Sean LoCurto and current sophomore Jay Hahn.
After adding much-needed size and weight to grow into the weight class, Wirnsberger expects Hahn to begin the season as the starter. Hahn was just 5-15 last year, but wrestled in three different weight classes, including 197.
In addition to LoCurto, who has half of his six career wins by pin, Wirnsberger thinks freshman Nathan Jones will have success. Jones was an Ohio state champion who has the talent and ability to excel.
HWT - Projected Starter: William McCormick
William McCormick is the only heavyweight on the roster this year for Bucknell, meaning he will have to mature quickly. As a freshman in 2007-08, McCormick posted a 6-7 record wrestling strictly in tournaments.
"We are looking for Will to continue his development and get better as the year goes on," commented Wirnsberger. "We are looking for much-needed improvement from this weight over last year." •