Mustang prepares for PECO title rehearsal
On December 30, Governor Wolf released the pause button for high school sports.
The ban, in effect since December 12, will be lifted from 8 a.m. on January 4, allowing the start of training and the start of the clock for the start of the winter sports cycle.
Assuming schools follow state-mandated COVID-19 mitigation practices and there are no further outbreaks, the county’s three control programs will meet in West Perry for the 31st edition of the Perry County Championship.
It could be a classic.
Newport, West Perry, and Susquenita will each arrive with queues that have their share of top quality and issues.
The answers to these questions will determine which school gets the traveling trophy.
Mustang coach Craig May, for his part, isn’t taking anything for granted, despite returning 11 wrestlers with experience starting from a team that went 18-6, won the county tournament and made the first trip of the program to the PIAA-AA Dueling Championships.
“Every time I get ready to leave, they stop us,” May said. “We have no idea week to week what’s going to happen.”
If all goes according to plan, the Mustangs will enter the county tournament more seasoned than either the Buffaloes or the Blackhawks.
According to the schedule on the school’s website, West Perry will open its season in Hanover on January 9, then travel to Waynesboro (January 11) and Big Spring (January 14), before welcoming Trinity on January 16.
The robust opening schedule will give the Mustang brain confidence ample opportunity to sort out programming issues.
“We’re skinny in some places,” May admits. “For us to have a chance, we will need children – inexperienced children – to step up.”
In reality, these fine spots barely register.
The month of May will feature a lineup featuring eight wrestlers who have won at least 20 matches well distributed from bottom to top.
He’ll start with 24-game winner Ashtyn Leigh at 106, then send junior Deven Jackson, a third-year starter with 64 career wins, to 113. Jackson, one of the three-star Mid-Penn Colonial , won 38 games last year, section and district titles and placed second in regions and fourth at state championships. Freshman Brady Sokoloski is also an option at 113.
Talented freshman Blain Puchalsky is in line to take the place at 120.
“Blain is solid,” May said. “He’s a little inexperienced, but he’s really strong and a grinder.”
Adam Rea, a four-year-old starter with 16 career wins, is ranked at 126, although May said: “With Ashtyn, Deven and Blain, we have the opportunity to overthrow the kids.”
From 132 to 145, May can call on a proven trio of sophomores.
Nolen Zeigler (28 wins), judge Hockenberry-Folk (a program record of 31 first year wins) and Carter Nace (20) were section medalists. Zeigler and Hockenberry-Folk made it to the districts and Hockenberry-Folk, who led the county with nine tech falls, made it to the state tournament.
Where things get risky is at 152 and 160.
May will need a combination of junior Joe Saylor, sophomore Dayton Seidel, or freshman Bryce Smith – each a freshman varsity wrestler – to take matters into her own hands.
“They’re inexperienced, but they’re junkyard,” May said.
Inexperience is not a problem at the back of May’s lineup. The Mustangs have proven themselves in the last four weights.
Senior Tyler Wonders, a third-year starter with 55 career wins, is expected to go to 172. Wonders, a Colonial star who had 17 pins, won in sections, placed second in districts and fourth in regions. , qualifying for the tournament state.
Brad Morrison, a prominent sophomore, follows Wonders in programming. Morrison won 40 games – a school record of 25 in the fall – and joined Jackson and Wonders on the all-Colonial squad. He won first in sections, second in districts and third in regions to qualify for state championships.
At 215, junior Jeremy Hockenberry-Folk, who won 11 games in his first college campaign, faces the challenge of freshman Kaleb Cordell.
Sophomore Josh Trostle, a 20-game winner who has traveled to the regions, will need to hold back Loyal Carver senior (six wins) to maintain his grip on the 285-pound spot.
“It will be interesting to see how things go this year,” said May. “We have the ability to be very competitive again.