November 6, 2007

2007-08 York College Wrestling Preview

The York College wrestling squad enters the 2007-08 campaign looking to put behind them a disappointing, by their high standards, 2006-07 season.  Injuries throughout the season depleted the Spartan lineup as York finished 12-10 during the dual meet season.  Highlights did include a 3rd place team finish at the prestigious Budd Whitehill Duals, which vaulted York College to a Top 10 national ranking.  York also finished second at the Metropolitan Conference championships.  They claimed three Metropolitan Champions, who all advanced to the NCAA national championship tournament.  Two wrestlers returned home as All-Americans.  Another highlight of the trip to the National Tournament was York College being named the #8 NWCA Scholar Team with a GPA of 3.285.

The Spartans’ lone returning national qualifier, junior Kyle Flickinger, returns to lead a talented and deep Spartan squad that is again expecting to be one of the top teams in the Metro Conference and the nation.

Spartan head coach Tom Kessler has high expectations for this year’s edition of the team.

“It was a rough year last season but we still were very competitive against a difficult schedule,” states Kessler. “After a year in which everything went well, we had some bad luck and some unfortunate injury situations. This year, there is a sense of purpose and determination that I really like. I fully expect us to be back in the national rankings and be a factor at the Metro championships.”

In addition to Flickinger, Kessler welcomes back John Niedrich at 157, Brian Alwine at 165, and Luke Panizzi at heavyweight to form a core of talented returners that will lead this young, yet talented squad.

Flickinger heads into the campaign as York’s lone returning All-American after going 29-11 and finishing sixth at the national championships. He won the Metro championship at 125 to earn the berth in the national championship tournament. Flickinger finished second at the Spartan Invitational and third at the Monarch Invitational as he fashioned a very impressive sophomore campaign.
Kessler knows that Flickinger has what it takes to be a leader for the green and white.

“Kyle understands that it is his turn to be a leader on this squad,” states Kessler. “His dedication to hard work and improving what he does on the mat has made him one of the top wrestlers in the nation. I fully expect him to be an All-American again this year.”

Flickinger will be backed-up by junior Matt Volpe and freshman Jerrid Hartman. Volpe went 8-8 last season while Hartman is a talented newcomer from Red Lion High School that participated on the PA Greco Team last season.

Niedrich just missed out on making the NCAA tournament last year as he placed second at the Metro Championships to the NCAA runner-up national champion. He finished last year with a mark of 20-11 as he won the Monarch Invitational and finished second at the Spartan Invitational.

“John is a tough, hard-nosed wrestler that is primed for a big year,” says Kessler. “I believe that John should battle for a conference championship and a place in the national tournament.  His conditioning and hard work in the practice room is second to no one.”

Talented newcomer Kelvin Medrano, who transferred to York from Division II Limestone College, will back up Niedrich.

Alwine is a Spartan tri-captain and will hold down the 165 slot. Alwine finished last season 12-8 as he battled injuries throughout the year. He enters this campaign healthy and ready to be a force in the Spartan lineup. Alwine finished third at the Metro championships, moving up two weights, and should be a contender for the crown in 2008.  

“Brian will be a leader this season and we expect a great season from him,” says Kessler. “He is a strong wrestler that will provide us with a solid presence in the room.”

Two newcomers will battle for mat time behind Alwine. Sophomore Rich Feig is a transfer from Gloucester County Community College that was a JUCCO national tournament qualifier last year. Freshman Jared Botchie was a regional Pennsylvania state qualifier at Mechanicsburg Area High School.

Panizzi is another Spartan captain that had a 24-6 season last year as he narrowly missed the NCAA tournament. Panizzi finished third at the Metro championships last year while he also finished first at the Monarch Invitational and second at the Spartan Invitational.

“Luke has just missed going to the NCAA tournament the last two years but I fully expect him to make it this year,” states the Spartan mentor. “His work ethic puts him in a position to be one of the best heavyweights in Division III.”

Freshmen Shane Cooley and Chris Brower are two-quality wrestlers that will handle the understudy duties at heavyweight for the Spartans.

The remainder of the Spartan lineup will be filled with returning wrestlers with minimal experience or newcomers with impressive resumes.

At 133, Sean Hightman returns after going 13-10 at 125 last season. He worked extremely hard in the weight room and is ready to make   an impact for the green and white. Freshmen Nick Sorrentino, Matt Edwards, and Brian Wilkerson are in the mix for mat time behind Hightman.

Kessler is unsure who will emerge at 141 pounds. An unproven core of wrestlers will vie for mat time as the starter. Sophomore Ryan Catton moves up to 141 after spending his freshman year at 133. Bryan Lippy, Bill Steinmetz, Mathias Smyser, Keith Obendorfer, and Brian Thompson are all quality wrestlers that will be competing for the starting spot at 141. It is a class that is deep in talent but also a weight class that will feature uncertainty in who will be the starter.

Three wrestlers, Eric Rush, Scott Falcione, and Erik George, will vie for the starting spot at 149 points. Rush is a Pennsylvania state place winner from Milton Hershey High School while George is a transfer to the Spartan program.

A trio of newcomers will compete for action 174 pounds. Freshman Sheldon Marshall, Norman Pfieffer, and Jaime Arze will battle during the preseason to see who emerges in the top spot.

At 184, junior Brian Adams will compete with freshman Randy Criss, and sophomore Tom Fitzpatrick for the starting spot. Adams went 5-6 at 174 last season and will move up to 184. Criss was a Pennsylvania state qualifier at Conrad Weiser last winter.

Sophomore Hank Conklin moves up from 174 to 197 this year in an effort to solidify the upper weights for the Spartans. Conklin will be joined at 197 by freshman Wade Akridge, a newcomer from Annandale High School in Springfield, VA.

Other newcomers and returners looking for starting spots will be: at 125 Josh Trainor and Lamone Wilson, at 133 Steve Adelson, at 149 Matt O’Brien, and Jake Bernardo, at 157 Albert Gleichauf, at 165 Branden Brainard, and at 184 John Page.

Coach Kessler is happy with the progress the team is making during the preseason.

“I think we have a talented group of athletes that have all the ingredients to have another successful year,” says Kessler. “We again face a difficult schedule and I expect us to work our way back into the top ten in the nation. I am ready for us to get started.”

The Spartans open the season on November 7 at home against McDaniel.