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Fox Chapel loses wrestlers to graduation

| Thursday, Nov. 27, 2003

Fox Chapel's wrestling team rode the strength of its upper weight classes to a 13-3 record and a berth in the WPIAL team playoffs last season.

"We won 13 matches last year, and an awful lot were won from 160 (pounds) up," Fox Chapel coach Ron Frank said.

It could be just the opposite for the Foxes this season.

The loss of 10 wrestlers to graduation, including WPIAL Class AAA 275-pound champion Tim Frank, wiped out the upper half of Fox Chapel's lineup.

But the lower-to-middle weights look loaded, particularly from 112 pounds to 125.

Sophomore Brett Skonieczny (25-11 last season) will be at 112 pounds, followed at 119 by twin brother Brandon, a junior who went 32-6 and finished fourth in the WPIAL at 103 a year ago.

"Those two are the hardest-working kids I've had in the wrestling room," Frank said of the Skonieczny brothers. "They set an example that's hard to match."

The Skonieczny brothers will be followed in the lineup at 125 by promising freshman Brian Letters, the cousin of former state champion Troy Letters of Shaler.

"(Letters) has a considerable wrestling background, and he's been extremely successful. His technique is excellent," Frank said. "Now he has to do it at the high school level."

Frank says the trio has a chance to finish as the top three career winners in school history.

"That's what we're hoping for," Frank said.

The Foxes also return WPIAL qualifier Scott Black (19-15), a junior who placed second in Section 4-AAA at 140 last season. Black likely will wrestle at 152.

Frank has high expectations for senior Cory Humes, who went 16-9 last season at 145 despite being hampered by a broken rib and a separated right shoulder. Humes should settle in at 160 or 171.

Frank says it may take some time for his lineup to take shape with so many newcomers. Most of the veteran wrestlers will be at different weight classes than last season.

'"I have some idea of where people will be, at least for the first couple of matches," Frank said. "Wrestlers eliminate for their starting jobs every week, so what we open up with for the first match could be different for the second match, depending on who wins their challenge matches."

Eight wrestlers who started last season are back, so Frank has some holes to fill in his lineup.

"We're excited because we have a good nucleus of experienced returning starters to build from,' Frank said. "But losing 10 seniors is an awful lot of experience and leadership, and that's something that has to be replaced."

Fox Chapel finished third in Section 4-AAA behind Kiski Area and Plum last season.

"Kiski and Plum were ahead of us last year, and they both lost just as many seniors, if not more, than us," Humes said. "So we could be even stronger in the section than we were last year. I'm thinking we could have a pretty strong year."

Additional Information:

Fox Chapel wrestling

Head coach: Ron Frank.

Last year's record: 13-3.

Wrestlers to watch: Cory Humes (sr.), Mike Bodnar (sr.), Jarrod Barker (sr.), Justin Marutiak (sr.), Brandon Skonieczny (jr.), Dan Simon (jr.), Jordan Tishman (jr.), Scott Black (jr.), Andrew Richless (jr.), Hunter Welty (jr.), Brett Skonieczny (so.), Paul DeLuca (so.), John Dragun (so.), Colin Vilsack (so.), Will Versaw (so.), Eric Weisband (so.), Andrew Lever (so.), Phillip Dimopoulos (so.), James Sellers (so.), Brian Letters (fr.), Ben McManus (fr.).

Season opener: Monday at Riverview.

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