Winning has become a habit for the Schuylkill Valley High School wrestling team. They are coming off a season in which they were tied for first place in the division with a 5-1 record, and finished at 18-4 overall.
For the Panther wrestlers, that’s been a typical season in recent years. This year they hope will be no different, but they will need to do it without a lot of talented wrestlers they lost to graduation last year.
Gone are guys like Joey Waack, Zach Homan, Trevor Crupi and Dante Giorgio.
But that’s what high school sports is all about - you have continually restock the program to plug in the holes left by the graduating seniors. As always, the Panthers do have some talented wrestlers who can do just that.
“Each year brings its unique challenges,” said head coach Duane Mauer. “It will be fun to see what we can develop with this group of student-athletes.”
Leading the way of returning wrestlers will be junior Josh Giorgio (126). He was 36-9 last year with 17 pins and qualified for the state tournament in Hershey after finishing first in the sectionals, first in the districts and fourth in the regionals. He was one of five Panthers who made it to regionals and the only one who is back on the team this year.
He has 78 career wins as he enters his junior season, and has amassed 33 career pins. Obviously he hopes to get back to the state tournament, but this time he wants to come home with a medal. He lost two of three at states last year.
Also back this year is senior Tanner White. He was 28-15 last year and owns a 67-44 career record for the Panthers. With a great season, he can reach the 100 career win mark. Of his 67 career wins, 33 of them are by pins. He finished third in the Sectional Tournament last year, but was knocked out of the district event after losing his first two bouts.
Mason Shuman (120) is also back for his senior season. He was 21-12 last year and earned a fifth place finish in the sectionals. But he too was knocked out in his first two district bouts. He’s hoping that experience will help him in this year’s post season.
Jonathan Tindall (195) is back for his junior season after going 22-11 last year, including 11 pins. He took a third place medal at the sectionals, but was eliminated in the consolation semifinals at the district tournament.
Another junior, Colby Geisinger (184), is coming off an 18-21 season, but he came on in the end where he finished fifth in the sectionals, then lost both his bouts at the district tournament.
Promising sophomore Jake Horst is also back after a 17-5 record in his freshman season, including a second place finish in the Berks Individual Tournament.
Senior Mason Shuman (120) is back to try to improve in his 21-12 season last year. He qualified for the districts by finishing fifth in the sectionals.
Other wrestlers to watch for include: Seniors: Elijah Zimmerman (145), Jake Bailey (170) and Nick Scheidt (220-285); Juniors: Ryan Ramich (152) and Grant Wertheim (160); Sophomores: Kyle Dimivitz (132); Sage Bering (132); and Joey Runkle (152).
If this season is going to equal last season in success, some of the younger wrestlers are going to have to step up and make some noise. However, according to Coach Mauer, success is a relative term.
“Success is a matter of definition - what is highly successful to one may be deemed a great failure by another,” said Mauer. “We want our student-athletes to have an enjoyable, educational and meaningful experience.”
The Panthers will open their season at home against Tulpehocken on Dec. 11, then travel to Oley Valley on Dec. 18.