BROCKWAY —The Brockway wrestling program has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years under head coach Eric Grecco, and that trend continued a year ago as the program had a presence at the state level in both the team and individual postseasons.
The Rovers qualified for the PIAA Team Championships for the first time since 2003 as the District 9 runner-up to Brookville, falling to Muncy (52-18) in the preliminary round of states. However, D-9 has just one berth to states in the team event this year, meaning Brockway will have to win the team crown to make a repeat trip to states.
Brockway then saw two wrestlers — Garrett McClintick and Anthony Glasl — punch their tickets to the PIAA Class AA Individual Championships. Both won D-9 titles at their respective weights, with Glasl placing second and McClintick third at regionals to make it to Hershey.
Each fell one victory short of winning a state medal, which would have been the second for Glasl after he became the first Rover freshman to land on the podium (6th place) as a freshman.
McClintick (34-8) and Glasl (34-6), a senior and junior, respectively, both return this season to lead a veteran Rover squad that lost just one senior (Pierce Yahner) to graduation — although a couple returning underclassmen decided to not come out for the team this year.
The pair, who tied for the team lead in wins, are among six returnees who won 21 or more matches. That group also includes seniors Tino Inzana (22-16) and Hayden Thompson (21-13), junior Eric Johnson (27-12) and sophomore Dominic Inzana (26-5).
Johnson captured his first D-9 title last season to reach regionals, while Tino Inzana and Thompson joined McClintick, Glasl and Johnson in Sharon for regionals.
Thompson, the team’s heavyweight, is currently working his way back from a football injury, as is fellow senior 220-pounder Justin Smith (14-14), a regional qualifier two years ago. While that senior duo is expected back at some point, the team could be without the services of sophomore Tanner Morelli — who went 19-12 as a freshman at 106 — for the season due to injury.
“We accomplished some high goals last year. — maybe not the peak of our goals, but we were able to accomplish a good amount of what we set out to do,” said Grecco. “We still have high expectations this year, but right now we’re a little beat up. We’re hoping to get everyone back and healthy, and when that happens we still feel we can fill all the weight classes.
“We just hope to compete like we did last year and keep building as a program. The goal is to get back to the team finals, but there are a lot of up and coming teams in District 9 this year. We’re not overlooking anyone. Kane has a nice program and Port Allegany’s co-op with Smethport now is another tough program. We’re going to have to wrestle well throughout the whole year and not focus solely on Brookville.
“They (Brookville) have been at the top though, and they are the one you have to defeat to take the District 9 title. We’re just going to take it match-by-match, and hopefully by early February we’ll have all things rolling and we’re able to win a District 9 title.”
For that to happen, Grecco is looking at that core group of returnees — McClintick, Glasl, Tino Inzana, Johnson and Thompson — to be the leaders of the team this season.
“They have been doing a good job in these first three weeks or so of practice,” said Grecco. “I can already tell they all have jumped into that leadership role and have really matured. One grade (older) makes a big difference, and I’m really seeing that.”
Brockway’s lineup will open with freshman newcomer Mark Palmer at 113 to start the year. Dominic Inzana will follow at 120, with sophomore Adam Stine (9-12) at 126. Glasl and freshman Garret Park are both at 132 to open the season.
Tino Inzana is at 145, with sophomore Jared Fremer providing some depth at that weight, while juniors Linkin Nichols (10-16) and Ian Koehler are both at 152. Another sophomore, Noah Bash (13-14), slots in at 160.
The top part of the Rover lineup will feature junior Andrew Hickman (170, 17-14), Johnson (182), McClintick (195), Smith (220) and Thompson (285).
When it comes to the individual part of the season come late February and March, Grecco says the hope is McClintick and Glasl return to the state tournament along with some of their teammates.
“We definitely have some high individual goals,” said Grecco. “Our goal is always to get four to five kids to the state tournament, which isn’t easy in our Northwest Region. But, that is always the goal we set. Some years we meet it, and some years we fall a little short.
“Garrett and Anthony both had great seasons last year and are looking to get back to states and win a medal. I know Tino Inzana is looking to get to states as a senior, as is Hayden Thompson.
“Eric Johnson was a district champ last year, but had a lackluster regional tournament. Hopefully with that experience, he can build on that and get to states as well. We’re also hoping to get Dom Inzana and Andrew Hickman to the regional tournament, and from there you never know. Maybe we can sneak them to the state tournament as well.”
The Rovers open their season this weekend at the DKI Tournament in Bloomsburg.
Seniors: Tino Inzana, Garrett McClintick, Justin Smith, Hayden Thompson. Juniors: Anthony Glasl, Andrew Hickman, Eric Johnson, Ian Koehler, Linkin Nichols. Sophomores: Noah Bash, Jared Fremer, Dom Inzana, Tanner Morelli, Adam Stine. Freshmen: Mark Palmer, Garret Park.