CURWENSVILLE — With just 11 on the roster and a lack of bodies through the middleweights, the Curwensville wrestling team could struggle in dual meets this season.
But that isn’t deterring third-year head coach Dean Swatsworth or his team from working hard and doing the best they possibly can every time they hit the mat.
“Our goal as a team is to come in every day and work hard and make ourselves and everyone around us better,” Swatsworth said. “As a dual meet team we are a small team this year, so to us the match has to be won on the mat and we can’t worry about the score. We need to win head to head and to me that’s more important.”
The Golden Tide return just four letterwinners in seniors Mason Lancaster and Kaleb Witherite, junior Dylan Meyers and sophomore Blake Passarelli. Junior Steven McClure, who was injured most of last season, also returns.
Curwensville will also get a boost in its lineup with the arrival of freshman Zach Holland, who is a decorated Junior Olympic wrestler, the return of junior Anthony Winebold, who did not come out for the team last season, and the emergence of junior Nick Stewart, a stalwart from the football team.
And the Tide will need every one of them to put forth the best lineup possible.
“We don’t have a lot of kids on the roster this year so we are not sure where everyone is going yet.” Swatsworth said. “But I can say I am going to try and get everyone in to the lineup the best I can to fill as many spots as possible. That’s the biggest challenge we are going to face. We aren’t going to fill the lineup so when we wrestle full teams it will be to their benefit.”
Swatsworth’s best guess at what his lineup will look like consists of Holland (106-113), Passarelli (113-120) and Meyers (120-132) filling the lighter weights.
Sophomore Mason Gasper, senior Ethan Collins and Winebold are all in the 126-132 range with sophomore Cole Bressler going at either 138 or 145.
The biggest hole in the lineup will come between 152 and 170, where only Lancaster (160-170) will be able to slot in.
Witherite (182-195), Stewart (195-220) and McClure (220-285) round out the upper weights.
One positive with the small roster is Swatsworth and his assistants Johnny Sutika and Chris Folmar can spend more one-on-one time instructing every individual on the team.
“The positive to having a smaller team is we get more covered and we get to work with each wrestler more,” Swatsworth said.
While the dual meet season will be challenging from a wins and losses aspect, Swatsworth is hopeful that getting every kid on the roster in almost every match and tournament will have a positive effect on their individual chances to move on in the postseason.
McClure and Passarelli got a taste of the postseason past the District 9 Tournament last season.
Passarelli was 29-10 and placed second in the D-9 Tournament and third at Northwest Regionals. McClure was 7-5 in limited action and made it to regionals after placing third at districts.
“I am sure that all my kids have goals in mind for this year, whether it be ending the season with a winning record, making it out of districts or placing at states this year,” Swatsworth said. “A goal that I have is that I am hoping to get as many kids out of districts as I can, but that means we have to work hard all season to get ready for districts.
“To reach these goals the kids just need to come in every day and work hard and listen to what the coaches have to teach them.”
Curwensville begins its season Dec. 10 at the Philipsburg-Osceola Mountaineer Tournament.
Seniors: Ethan Collins, Mason Lancaster, Kaleb Witherite. Juniors: Steven McClure, Dylan Meyers, Nick Stewart, Anthony Winebold. Sophomores: Cole Bressler, Mason Gasper, Blake Passarelli. Freshman: Zach Holland.