Short-handed Cougars may have state champ
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Charleroi may be suffering from a drought of wrestlers – it finished last season with only five wrestlers and currently has eight — but it boasts the area's most distinguished active wrestler in senior Nick Gavazzi.
While the team will most likely not win a dual meet due to forfeits, the 145-pound Gavazzi will chase his third straight WPIAL title and a PIAA championship. He hopes to eventually earn collegiate All-American status when he takes his talents to the University of Pittsburgh next year.
“This is his year, I think,” Cougars' coach Chad Alexis said. “The past couple years he has had it physically, but I think this year he gets over the hump mentally, and that starts with the regional tournament. The past two seasons he has won the WPIAL and made it to the semis at regionals before dropping two straight matches and needing to win for fifth to even go to the state tournament.
“But I think he is ready to get that monkey off of his back. He is currently suffering from an injury, so we are going to be cautious with him for a majority of the season, but I think he is ready to go mentally and that is really all that has held him back. I really think this is his year to win a state title.”
Outside of Gavazzi, the Cougars are lean and inexperienced. With several returning starters and a few more wrestlers than it had last season, the team should be improved, but it is still in for a tough season, with the possibility of forfeiting six weight classes.
“We are looking all right, better than last year,” Alexis said. “We have some first-year varsity guys, a couple returners and of course, Nick. We started the year with 13, but some guys quit and we are down to eight that I think will stick it out. So numbers are up from last season. But most of our guys are around 120 and lower. Our heaviest is 160 and Nick is 145.”
Alexis believes some of his returning starters — two in particular — will build off last year and are due for success this season.
“Tanner Large was a first-year varsity starter for us last year and qualified for WPIALs after only a week of practice because he broke his hand in the middle of the season,” he said. “Another guy, Jeremy Jones, has been working really hard this off season, going to Quest (wrestling club), and really devoting himself to getting better. I'm excited to see what they can do this year.”
However, inexperience will be the big issue.
Time will tell if Alexis' wrestlers commit themselves to bringing Charleroi wrestling back to where it was during the 2009-2010 season, when the Cougars finished the season ranked ninth in the WPIAL and sent four wrestlers to Hershey.
“Nick is a huge help in the practice room and the guys look up to him because of all the success that he has had,” Alexis said. “It would be easy for him to get upset that he doesn't have a great team around him, but instead he tries to make everyone around him be the best they can be. He is a smart kid — the valedictorian of his class — and he is going to a great school to wrestle in college.
“If our kids start buying in like he did, we are on our way to bringing Charleroi wrestling back to where it used to be.”
Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer.
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.
- Powerade wrestling tourney welcomes biggest field ever
- Connellsville wrestling tunes up for duals by routing Thomas Jefferson
- BVA overpowers Connellsville Area, 46-18
- Starters back for Belle Vernon Area, Ringgold wrestling teams
- 5 Franklin Regional wrestlers place at Ironman Tournament
- Fox Chapel wrestler Dietz pinning the competition
- Burrell, Kiski Area wrestling teams set to battle for bragging rights
- Class AAA Kiski Area wrestling team uses five pins to knock off Class AA power Burrell