Dolan, inexperienced Trojans prepare for demanding schedule
DERRY--On the surface it appears that this year's edition of the Derry Area wrestling team is relatively young.
But that doesn't matter to fifth-year head coach Mike Wood, who strongly believes that his young Trojans will be competitive.
Wood's Trojans will open the 2006-07 season today at 7 p.m. against their backyard rival Latrobe.
The host Wildcats, coached by Marc Billett, have experienced little difficulty in handling the Trojans in recent years.
"Our kids are really anxious to get the wrestling season under way, with the hope of starting out by having much better luck against Latrobe," Wood said.
Derry Area, which will compete in WPIAL Section 2-AA, finished the 2005-06 season with an overall record of 10-8.
This season, Wood will send a starting lineup that boasts 10 returning lettermen to the mat on opening night against Latrobe.
Leading the way for the Trojans will be two-time PIAA state champion Troy Dolan, who signed a letter of intent in November to attend the University of Missouri on a wrestling scholarship.
"I know that Troy is extremely relieved that the recruiting process is finally over so that he can fully concentrate on our season," Wood said.
Dolan, who likely will wrestle in the 125-pound weight class, is setting his sights on capturing a third state title, which would be a first in Westmoreland County mat history.
Other senior lettermen on the Trojan mat squad this season include Bobby Lyons (at 130 pound), Preston Wannamaker (140) and Bobby Mroskey (152).
The lone junior lettermen on this year's team is Dan Boring (112).
The list of sophomore letterman include Ben Myers (119), David Burrows (112), Eric Kemp (125) and Jay Whittaker (171).
Woods also believes freshmen Tyler Leitza (140) and Nick Sofranko (145) will make significant contributions to this before the season ends.
Wood described Latrobe as a tough opener for the Trojans, but he thinks that giving his team a shot at difficult opposition will pay off in the long run.
He indicated the 2006-07 schedule will be extremely demanding, but feels the Trojans will benefit when it comes time for the section tournament. Aside from a grueling dual meet schedule, the Trojans also will compete in the Iron Man, Power Eight and Westmoreland County mat tourneys.
As for the competition in Section 2-AA, Wood believes Mt. Pleasant and Keystone Oaks, which moved down from the Class AAA ranks, will be the teams to beat.
"Provided that our team stays healthy, we have a chance to make some noise in the section this year," Wood said. "But it is a long season and a lot of things can happen; you just don't know."
Wood believes the future for the mat program, which has been infused with an influx of young grapplers in recent years, looks bright.