Despite small roster, SSA wrestling has high hopes
Shady Side Academy wrestling coach Tim Giel faces a familar problem.
Like last season, the Indians have only six wrestlers on their roster. That means Giel will be forced to forfeit eight weight classes every match, a big reason Shady Side won only three of its 12 dual meets during the 2003-2004 season.
"We did okay, but we had some tough situations last year," Giel said. "But you work with the hand you're dealt. There's not a whole lot I can do about it."
There is a bright side to the situation, Giel said.
"We have two coaches and only six wrestlers, so we probably have one of the greatest coach-to-wrestler ratios in the country," he said.
Giel and assistant coach Chris Smith will have plenty of teaching to do with freshmen newcomers Kurt Brendel and Brian Burnett. Brendel likely will wrestle at 152 or 160 pounds, and Burnett is expected to be at 119.
Giel has high hopes of two of his returning wrestlers, junior Dave Cunningham and sophomore Zak Klinvex.
Cunningham was the runner-up at 125 pounds in the Section 1-AA individual tournament for the second year in a row. He placed fifth in the WPIAL Class AA tournament , qualified for the PIAA Southwest Regional and finished with a record of 30-7.
As a freshman, Klinvex was third at 140 in Section 1-AA, finished fourth in the WPIAL and qualified for the regional tournament. He ended up with a record of 35-10, joining Damian Johnson as the only wrestlers in school history to win 30 matches as freshmen.
"I told them that between the two of them (Cunningham and Klinvex), the goal is to get us back to Hershey and back to the state tournament. We didn't have anybody up there last year," Giel said. "It will be a real tough road for both of them."
Giel also likes the potential of Chris Tourek, who will wrestle at 160 or 171.
"I like the way he's working right now," Giel said. "He's a junior, and he's showing some leadership and working hard in practice. He worked hard in the weight room over the summer, and he's a lot stronger than he was."
Sophomore Phil Amsler should improve, too, after gaining a year of experience. He'll likely wrestle at either 160 or 171.
"(Amsler) will win his share of matches this year," Giel said.
Despite a two-year stretch of low numbers, there is hope on the horizon for the Indians. The middle school program has 30 wrestlers, and all of this season's varsity wrestlers will be back next season.
"Next year we'll have seven or eight freshmen coming in who will help us," Giel said. "So we'll be able to be competitive."
Shady Side wrestlingHead coach: Tim Giel.
Last year's record: 3-9.
Wrestlers to watch: Dave Cunningham (jr.), Chris Tourek (jr.), Zak Klinvex (so.), Phil Amsler (so.), Kurt Brendel (fr.), Brian Burnett (fr.).
Season opener: Dec. 3 vs. Kiski School/Summit Academy.