North Hagerstown nearly did it all last wrestling season, winning Washington County, MVAL Antietam and Maryland Class 4A-3A West region titles and setting a single-season school record for dual-meet victories at 19.
“That group last year had a very special chemistry. I wouldn’t say they exceeded expectations, but they were a group of overachievers,” North coach Greg Slick said. “And this group of kids this year has the idea that they can make a run at it again.”
It won’t be easy.
The Hubs lost five all-county wrestlers from last season to graduation — first-teamers Kenneth Burrs, Dylan Dopson, Connor McHose and Duncan Yeisley and second-teamer Ryan Hartsock. Those five went a combined 143-35 last season, while Burrs and Dopson were both state placewinners.
“You don’t replace guys like that,” Slick said. “You just find other guys to wrestle those weight classes.”
North’s cupboard hardly is bare.
“We have a logjam at some weight classes,” Slick said. “We have 11 guys at 195 and 220. It’s going to make practice very interesting, for sure.”
Eight of their regular starters from last season are back, including all-county first-teamers Gene Balcita and Brendon Colbert, who are both juniors, and second-teamers Amont Hawkins, Diantra Landry, Antonio Rosario and Mike Tobery, who are all seniors.
Colbert, once again, is the star. The junior, who is expected to start the season at 138 pounds, is a two-time state runner-up with a 72-4 overall record through two seasons.
“I’ve never seen anybody who works as hard as Brendon Colbert does,” Slick said. “And I’m not just talking about the practice room. He got on a lifting schedule over the summer and worked out five days a week. He went to camps and clinics all summer and all fall. He is just one of the most motivated young people I’ve ever been around.”
Colbert makes everyone around him better, the coach added.
“That’s why Balcita has gotten so good,” Slick said. “He has to be sharp in the practice room or Brendon just eats him up.”
While the Hubs have lofty goals for 2013, they still have to get through the rest of 2012.
“The state tournament is way at the top of the stairs,” Slick said. “And we have a lot of stairs to climb before we get there.”
The Wildcats have eight starters back from last season’s team that finished a close second to North at the county tournament and went 14-8 in dual meets.
Junior Bryan Davis was a 2A-1A state placewinner and an all-county first-teamer last season at 120, while sophomores Barry Loeser, Sinjin Shoop and Austin Keadle were all all-county second-teamers as freshmen.
“Two years from now, watch out,” coach Mike Rechtorovic said. “When these kids who are sophomores are juniors and seniors, we’re going to be pretty tough. This year, we should still be pretty good.”
Newcomer Nick Miller, a senior who previously wrestled at Hedgesville, should make an immediate impact at 106-113. While he was out of action most of last season, Miller went 56-3 and was the West Virginia Class AAA state runner-up at 103 as a sophomore.
Wrestling: Hubs start taking steps to climb to state tournament
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