The high school winter sports preseason began Monday with area teams getting to work before the season opens the weekend of Dec. 6-7.
Here is a quick look at the area teams:
The Raiders head into another season looking to win their sixth straight D9 Class 2A Dual Meet title, although Brockway ended the Raiders’ five-year title run at the individual tournament.
Dave Klepfer, entering his 16th season as head coach with a 242-103 record and 17 wrestlers on his preseason roster, has 10 returning starters back from his 21-4 dual meet team led by reigning Class 2A heavyweight state champion Colby Whitehill, who recently signed to wrestle at the University of Pittsburgh after de-committing from Clarion University earlier this fall. Whitehill needs eight wins to become the 18th Raider to reach 100 career wins.
Also back is the Raiders’ other D9 champion from last year in sophomore Owen Reinsel along with sophomore Josh Popson, juniors Nathan Taylor, Elliott Park, Cayden Walter and Wyatt Griffin, and seniors Parker Fleming, Caleb Hetrick and Wyatt Kulik.
The Raiders once again open the schedule Dec. 7 at the Sheetz Kickoff Classic in Greenville. Their home dual meet opener is Dec. 17 against Redbank Valley.
The Raiders are the defending D9 Class 3A and District 5/9 Class 3A Sub-Regional champions coming off a 16-9 season.
Head coach Dalton Park, with 16 players on his varsity/JV roster, enters his third season returning seven of their eight regular rotation players led by all-district player as per D9Sports.Com in senior Aaron Park. Also back are seniors Bryce Baughman, David Cable and Logan Byerly, and juniors Jace Miner, Jack Krug and David Cable.
As usual, the Raiders open the season with their own tip-off tournament against St. Joe’s Catholic Academy on Dec. 6. The other two teams in the tournament are Warren and Brockway.
It’s Mark Powell’s 18th season as his Lady Raiders are the two-time defending D9 Class 3A champion and last year’s District 5/9 Sub-Regional champion as well.
Powell has 16 players on his preseason roster, including five of his top five scorers led by all-district player in seniors Marcy Schindler and Morgan Johnson. Others back are seniors Madison Johnson, Lauren Hergert and Kira Powell.
Like the boys, the Lady Raiders open the season with Clarion-Limestone at their own tip-off tournament Dec. 6. The other two teams are Clearfield and North Clarion.
Ray Doolittle takes over the program after serving as an assistant last season. He has 28 swimmers/divers on the preseason roster, including 18 girls and 10 boys.
Last year, the boys finished third and girls fourth at the District 9 Championships in Clearfield. Among the returners who placed in the top five at districts are sophomore Calvin Doolittle (3rd 100-yard butterfly, 5th 200 freestyle), senior Donavan Hoffman (3rd 100 breaststroke) and sophomore Bay Harper (5th diving) for the boys and junior Emma Fiscus (3rd 100 butterfly, 4th 200 individual medley), and sophomores Sadie Shofestall (4th 100 breaststroke, 5th 50 freestyle).
Both teams open the season with a dual meet at Oil City on Dec. 6. They host Clearfield Dec. 10.
Joe Ferguson enters his 18th season with the Lions, who are coming off a 23-5 campaign that saw them finish third in District 9 Class 1A and reach the second round of the state playoffs. He has two of his top three scorers returning with senior guard Deion Deas and junior forward Hayden Callen, both all-district players as per the postseason D9Sports.Com awards.
The Lions start the season at the Grove City Tip-Off Tournament, opening with Fort LeBoeuf on Dec. 6.
Gus Simpson starts his fourth year in his second stint with the Lady Lions, who are coming off a 2-20 season. He has 10 players on his preseason roster, including three of the team’s top five scorers in sophomore Frances Milliron, and juniors Janelle Pezzuti and Anna Kennemuth.
The Lady Lions open at the Brookville Tip-Off against the host Lady Raiders on Dec. 6.