Decorated Redbank Valley wrestling team awaits tough 1st month
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Early speculation in New Bethlehem suggests this season's Redbank Valley wrestling team might rank among the program's all-time best.
By New Year's Day, the Bulldogs undoubtedly will better grasp where they stand in District 9 and the state.
A daunting first month awaits a decorated Redbank Valley squad. Only three seniors graduated for the Bulldogs, and among the returning starters are six Class AA Northwest Regional qualifiers, including two — senior Ty Haines and junior Willie Gruver — who reached the PIAA tournament.
Several weeks stand between Redbank Valley and any postseason competition. But the Bulldogs will encounter some of their most serious challengers in a matter of days, as they'll head to Central Pennsylvania for the prestigious King of the Mountain tournament next weekend and then meet District 9 defending champion Brookville in a dual meet Dec. 20.
“For your new kids and your first- or second-year kids, this is probably not a good tournament to start with,” Redbank Valley coach Mike Kundick said of the King of the Mountain. “But for your experienced kids, it'll show them what they need to do for the rest of the year to get ready for states.”
Thirty five teams will head to Mill Hall, located just outside of Lock Haven, for the invite-only event. High-profile WPIAL programs Latrobe, Kittanning and Penn-Trafford will be there. So will District 10 powers Reynolds, Fort LeBoeuf, General McLane and Erie McDowell. Colonial Forge (Va.), Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (Ohio), Phillipsburg (N.J.) and North Hunterdon (N.J.) add an out-of-state flavor.
“I think we know it's a harder tournament, and (the coaches) know it's a harder tournament, too,” said Haines, who has an 87-22 career record and will wrestle at 145 pounds this season. “This will open people's eyes and show what we're about to do, what we're ready to do.”
Gruver was a district and regional champion who went 30-5 a season ago. But, according to Kundick, even the junior, slated to wrestle at 113 pounds, might not receive a seed in the tournament.
“If I don't take the title,” Gruver said, “it just means I have to work harder in the room and get better at the things I messed up on.”
Seniors Cole Shirey (160 pounds), Brandon Bailey (170) and Aaron Hook possess the potential to accumulate individual hardware at King of the Mountain and later this winter. Each won at least 27 bouts a season ago, and Shirey and Hook took third in the district.
Sophomore Kolbin Altobelli (106) and junior Ben Carrillo (285) look to build off seasons in which they made regional tournament appearances. Altobelli's younger brother, Tanner, might make a dazzling varsity debut as a 120-pound freshman after going 27-1 in junior high. Sophomore Luke Gallo (138) and senior Luke Hinderliter (182⁄195) are back after injury-spoiled seasons.
The Bulldogs' collective goal is to deliver Redbank Valley its first District 9 team title since 2008. Edging Brookville in the December dual meet will set a promising tone for later run-ins.
“They've had a good team, and it's just kind of a focus thing (for us),” Hook said. “We can't let them get in our head.”
Said Bailey: “It should be about a three- or six-point match. ... We have to win where we should.”
Kundick generally discourages his wrestlers from engaging in historical comparisons. He believes it creates undue pressure. But he senses his current group prefers to bear the weight of high expectations.
“These guys feed off of that,” the coach said. “They want that pressure.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-543-1303.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hackers’ new Dyre malware infects W.Pa. computers, vexes FBI cyber agents
- Veteran LB Harrison: Steelers must play to way defense is set up
- Fleury, Penguins too much for Kings
- Pirates likely to seek pitcher, catcher when free agency starts
- Steel Valley school director says teachers lack volunteer spirit
- County council committee recommends drill lease
- 5 Cal U football players arrested for assault; Saturday’s game canceled
- Police: Man wanted in fatal ambush of Pennsylvania trooper finally captured
- Steelers notebook: Fully healthy, rookie WR Bryant progressing fast
- Rossi: The best Penguins defense is ... a potent offense
- Penguins assistant coach Tocchet wants Letang to shoot more on power play