Plum gearing up for season in new conference
Change is in the air for the Plum varsity wrestling team.
In the offseason, the WPIAL moved the Mustangs out of Section 1-AAA and away from familiar foes such as Greater Latrobe, Penn-Trafford, Norwin and Greensburg-Salem and placed them in Section 3 with a whole new cache of opponents.
Plum made the switch with Pittsburgh Central Catholic, and the Mustangs and Vikings will do battle in Section 3-B with Fox Chapel, Hampton, North Hills and Shaler.
On the opposite side of the section is North Allegheny, Butler, Knoch, Mars, Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley.
“There are a lot of good teams in the section with a lot of ranked wrestlers,” Plum fifth-year head coach Mike Supak said.
“Each section has its difficulties and challenges to overcome. It's going to be an interesting season. It is a chance for younger guys to step up and a chance for the veterans to help new wrestlers develop and get better.”
Plum will head into the new section with a young team. Only three seniors dot the roster — Jake DiGuilio, Anthony Zummo and Jake Vesely — and only Zummo and DiGuilio earned a varsity letter last year.
There are nine underclassmen letter winners, and Supak said a freshman or two could break into the starting varsity lineup.
Supak said he's looking forward to seeing how his wrestlers look at this weekend's 10-team Chartiers Valley scrimmage.
“It's a chance to wrestle a lot of competitors and see a lot of wrestling styles,” he said.
“We will see how we match up. There will be a lot of mats available, so everyone will be working all the time. It's a chance to see what works and what doesn't and a chance to work on different in-match situations. It's intense for a scrimmage, and it will let us know where we're at and where we need to go.”
Senior Jake DiGuilio (195) and junior Eric Green (138) return after competing at WPIALs last year. Green went 2-2 at WPIALs and finished 23-14 overall, while DiGuilio hopes to use a loss in his only match at WPIALs as motivation as he returns off a 22-15 record.
Four other wrestlers — Zummo (145), junior Stephen Turchick (285) and sophomores Nathan Turchick (182) and Ronny Amato (120) — won at least 11 matches last season.
Nathan Turchick went 18-16, while Stephen Turchick was 14-19 and Zummo and Amato were 11-13 and 11-17, respectively.
Juniors Michael Walkup (132), Andy McRandal (170) and Zach Martin (152) all battled injuries last season, and, Supak said, all three have improved and are hoping to make an impact.
Supak also is expecting junior Zeke Bonura (160) to have a good year.
Sophomore Hunter Fenk (160) only wrestled three matches on varsity last year because of limited opportunities to find a spot in the lineup, but, Supak said, Fenk fared well in several freestyle and Greco Roman matches over the summer and has come into the season with a good attitude.
Supak said freshman Tommy Zummo has done well at the junior high level and should have chances to test his ability in varsity matches this season.
Sophomore Nick DePastino, Supak said, is another letterman ready to make a move. The 120-pounder wrestled 25 varsity bouts last season.
“There is a lot of good competition among the 28 guys, and it's spread out over all the weight classes,” Supak said.
“A lot of guys are pushing each other. We're looking to add some junior varsity events (in December) so everyone will have a good chance to compete.”
The varsity squad opens its season Dec. 7 and 8 at the annual Eastern Area Tournament at Gateway High School.
Plum begins section matches Dec. 12 at Hampton.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.