YORK, Pa. – The York College wrestling team embarks on the 2010-2011 season with a renewed sense of optimism and confidence following last year's disappointing campaign. The Spartans posted an uncharacteristic 8-17 dual-meet record last season and finished seventh at the Metropolitan Conference Championships.
"I wasn't real happy with last year's season," Spartan head coach Tom Kessler lamented. "We want to get back to the previous four years where…we've been in the top-20 in the nation as a wrestling program and also as a team academically. That's what I'm looking for this year, to get back to those standards and those successes."
Despite last season's rough slate, this year has the potential for vast improvement for the Green and White. York welcomes back junior 184-pound Alex Martocello and senior 125-pound Jerrid Hartman – a pair of wrestlers who each captured over 20 victories a year ago. Martocello (22-7) nearly reached the NCAA Tournament as he finished second at the Metro Conference Championships while Hartman (21-6) snagged third.
In addition to Martocello and Hartman, the Spartans welcome back Matt Heisey at 165 pounds and George Saliba at 197 who each enter their junior seasons after collecting outstanding experience as sophomore starters. Furthermore, J.C. Laughlin who could see time at both 197 and 285, returns healthy after a season-long injury, and should be ready for an excellent campaign.
"With our senior-most athlete Jerrid Hartman, he's been our 125-pounder for the last couple years so he's going to start us off right away," Coach Kessler said. "We expect some good things from Jerrid. J.C. Laughlin is back off a shoulder injury last year and he's been working super hard. Those two guys will lead being seniors.
"We have our three tri-captains back in Matt Heisey, Alex Martocello, and George Saliba," Kessler continued. "All had fairly decent sophomore years so I'm really expecting those guys to step up this year and have great junior years."
York adds to their tremendous talent pool with a large influx of newcomers to the roster. The Green and White sport 21 student-athletes who enter their first season with the Spartan squad. A number of these new wrestlers have experienced tremendous success, including transfer Chris Albright who comes to York from Division I Pitt, and will look to translate that success to the Spartan program.
"We have some good kids with good credentials coming in," Kessler noted. "A couple New Jersey state qualifiers, Pennsylvania state qualifiers. Those guys I'm expecting to step on the mat right away, get some experience, and be successful."
The Spartans road back to the upper echelon of Division III will not be easy however, as Coach Kessler has put together another strong schedule. Five squads on York's slated are currently ranked in the top-30 of the Brute/Adidas NWCA Division III Rankings – such as #8 Delaware Valley and #12 TCNJ. In addition to their talented Division III opponents, York will also square off with Division II programs Shippensburg (twice), Millersville, and Kutztown, a squad which finished last season ranked 15th in the country.
Aside from returning to prominence on the mat, the Green and White will also strive to be one of the top programs academically in the nation this season. A constant point of emphasis on the Spartan squad, Kessler believes York has several wrestlers who could be Scholar All-Americans this year.
"One of our goals for everybody is to be (a Scholar) All-American," Kessler said. "Looking on paper this year we should have four or five guys that are (Scholar) All-Americans, as long they as do it on the mat and continue to do it in the classroom"
The Spartans open up their 2010-2011 campaign on Saturday, November 6, when they travel to the annual Monarch Invitational hosted by King's College. The wrestling action is slated for a 9:30 a.m. start.
Jerrid Hartman photo courtesy of Scott Guise.