Ligonier Valley grapplers biding time
After losing a couple wrestlers to graduation and transfer, Ligonier Valley will need time to get a steady lineup to fill in all weight classes.
The Rams, who finished 9-6 last season, lost Josh Patrick and Dominick Shawley to graduation, and Patrick's brother, Justin, transferred to the Kiski School.
Josh Patrick, who has moved on to Rutgers, finished fifth in the state tournament in the 120-pound weight class. Justin Patrick did one better by finishing fourth in the state tournament in the 113-pound weight class.
“This year, we have enough to fill out a roster. We have 17 guys, but we have some of them logjammed in the same weight class,” coach Brian Matson said.
“As we get started here, we will have two or three forfeits. As the season goes along we will plan to get down to one. It will take some time to get those guys down to the next weight class.”
Without the Patrick brothers and Shawley, the Rams will look for the Croyle brothers to step up as senior leaders.
Last season, Dan Croyle, who won 25 matches, finished in the top six of four tournaments — the Westmoreland County, Conemaugh Township, Penn Cambria and Southmoreland tournaments— at the 145-pound weight class.
Derek Croyle, who won 23 matches, finished sixth at the District 6 championship in the 170-pound weight class.
“Just getting started out this year, we are looking at the opponents being in same situation, and some of them are down in numbers. Hopefully, (the forfeits) won't impact us that much,” Matson said. “We have some experience coming back. As the season goes along, the experience will result in a more skilled team.”
The Rams also will look for junior Ray Marsh, who finished sixth at the district tournament, to continue his late-season success in the 220-pound weight class.
Sophomores Dalton Clark and Nathan Trottier also will be wrestlers to look out for this season.
“I don't look for some dropoff. With the Patrick brothers leaving you lose 70 wins and multi-state place winners. But I think the team has a little more depth, which will pay off, especially earlier on this season,” Matson said. “I'm looking for them to perform at a little higher level, and if so we will be able to weather the storm with the forfeits then. We will be a pretty strong lineup top to bottom.”
Due to having too many competition points on their schedule, Ligonier Valley had to pull out a tournament. They decided to pull out of the Conemaugh Township tournament that occurred last weekend.
As other schools get a competition under the belt early on, Matson sees the positives of sitting out last weekend.
“On the downside, it's obviously nice to get that first tournament out under your belt. The level of competition allows you to figure out where you are at that time,” Matson said.
“The good side of things, it gives us more practice time before first competition, and we can work on more details before we compete. Ultimately, it probably has a less negative impact than positive. The added rest and time to get the guys weights in line will benefit us in the long run.”
Andrew John is a freelance writer.