BROCKWAY — Coming off its best season in recent memory, the Brockway wrestling team finds itself in an old but familiar situation where quality, not quantity will unfortunately rule the Rovers.
Brockway halted Brookville’s five-year reign at the District 9 Class AA Individual Championships last year, capturing its first team crown in 16 years (2003). The Rovers, who edged Kane (171.5-162.5) for the team title, are just two years removed from competing in the PIAA Team Tournament as the D-9 Class AA runner-up in 2018.
Brockway put five wrestlers in the last year’s District 9 finals and crowned three champs — senior Garrett McClintick and juniors Anthony Glasl and Eric Johnson — while advancing a program-record 10 wrestlers to the Northwest Regional Tournament in Sharon.
Four of those 10 regionals qualifiers — Glasl, McClintick, Eric Johnson and Mark Palmer — went on to reach states, with Glasl (5th place, 126 pounds) and McClintick (6th place, 182) landing on the podium in Hershey. The state medal was the second in three trips for Glasl, who was sixth as a freshman.
However, due to various circumstances, Brockway and head coach Eric Grecco faces the tall task of replacing nearly half his starting lineup from a year ago while trying to defend that team title at individual districts. Grecco lost just four seniors to graduation but all four — McClintick (37-5), Tino Inzana (20-12), Hayden Thompson (18-12) and Justin Smtih (13-10) were multi-year regional qualifiers, including last season.
However, the losses didn’t end there.
Current junior Dom Inzana (24-8), a returning regional qualifier (D-9 4th place), is out with an injury, and Grecco said his status for the season is unknown. Inzana also missed the entire soccer season with the injury. Grecco also had a couple underclassmen from a year ago decide not to come out this season, including one starter who made it to regionals.
Those losses have depleted the roster for the Rovers, who only saw a small influx of competitors. All told, Grecco has just 12 wrestlers on the current roster — and that includes the injured Dom Inzana.
“It’s going to be a tough year (numbers-wise),” said Grecco. “We lost four guys who were regional qualifiers, including Garrett (McClintick) being one of our state medalists. Those are four quality kids, kids who have been around the program since they were freshman and worked their way up through. They are definitely going to be missed, and it’s going to show a little bit this year.
“We also had some kids not come back out this year and some injuries too. So, we’re down to a pretty small roster. But, we’ll focus on what we can focus on. We going to try to stay healthy with the kids we have right now.
“We have about 12 on the roster. For the past couple years, we’ve been at that 16-17-18 number mark, which gives you a little more leeway and a little more room to expand your team. Our kids are working hard though, and we’re just going to move forward with who have.”
And, the wrestlers Grecco has are pretty talented — a group led by the trio of Glasl (38-4), Johnson (32-10) and Palmer (33-12) who all reached Hershey in 2019.
Glasl spearheads that group. Glasl, a three-time District 9 champ and three-time Northwest regional runner-up, recently verbally committed to George Mason. Already a member of Brockway’s Century Club, he enters his senior season with a career record of 107-20. The Rover looks to make the jump from 126 to 138 this season.
Johnson, a two-time D-9 champ, looks to end his career with a state medal while joining Glasl in the school’s Century Club. The Rover is 24 wins (76-36) shy of 100 win for his career. He looks to open the season at 220, up a class from 195 where he competed at states a year ago.
As for Palmer, he enjoyed a breakout freshman campaign at 106, going over the 30-win mark with 32. He placed third at districts and fourth at regionals before going 1-2 at states. He also is making a two-class jump this season, moving from 106 up to 120.
“We have a strong group back led by our three returning state qualifiers,” said Grecco. “Glasl leads the way coming off a fantastic junior year and looks to up himself on the podium from his fifth-place finish last year. His goal this year is to be a state champion, but he definitely wants to better his spot on the podium.
Eric Johnson wants to get back to Hershey and be on the medal stand this year being his senior year. Palmer has moved up a few weights and gotten a little bigger. His goal is to get back to Hershey as well, but he’s going to have to work for it because he’s definitely grown and will be up against different type of wrestler this season.”
The Rovers’ experience doesn’t end there.
Senior Noah Bash (26-10), a D-9 runner-up and regional qualifier, also returns at 160 pounds as do fellow starters in senior Linkin Nichols (13-13) and sophomore Garret Park (15-14). Junior Adam Stine, who went 6-6 in limited duty as a sophomore, is back. Stine and park look to be at 126 and 132, respectively, while Nichols will be at 152.
Brockway also welcomes back junior Tanner Morelli, who missed last season due to injury after going 19-12 as a freshman at 106. Morelli looks to be at 145 this year.
“Noah Bash kind of had a breakout year last year after just going .500 as a freshman. He ended up being a district runner-up and really made some noise. That weight class kind of cleared out after last year at district and regionals — there were a lot of seniors in that weight class. So, we’re looking for Noah to step in there at 160, 170 and make some noise.
“It’s good see Tanner back. He’s a kid who works hard and definitely missed it (wrestling) last year. You could tell that. He was constantly wanting to be a part of everything, which was great. He just couldn’t participate on mat. He worked hard in offseason but it’s going to be a change for him too. He was a 106-pounder his freshman year and now he’s weighing in around 145. That’s a big jump coming back from year off.
“Nichols has been solid kid in the middleweights for us the last three years and can keep matches close with good kids and even sneak some wins here or there. Adam Stine and Park hold down the upper lightweights. Both are returning starter, and we look for them to do a nice job for us this season.”
Rounding out the Rover roster are junior 195-pounder Weston Smith and and a pair of talented freshmen Seth Stewart (170) and Gavin Thompson (285), the younger brother of Hayden Thompson. Smith wrestled in junior high but is back out at the varsity level for the first time.
“Stewart and Thompson were both junior high state placewinners last year,” said Grecco. “Coming up into the varsity scene, especially being upperweights at 170 and 285, they’re going to have some success but also some growing pains because the varsity level is different. Hopefully by the end of year, we can get them competing at a high level and both can get to regionals.
“We’re hoping to compete the best we can this year. Even though we don’t have an incredible high amount numbers-wise, we still have the quality. One of our biggest goals is always to get as many kids as we can to regionals. And, pending on how things work out there, and how healthy we are, maybe we can compete for another individual District 9 (team) title.”
Brockway opens its season Friday at the DKI Tournament in Bloomsburg.
Seniors: Anthony Glasl, Eric Johnson, Linkin Nichols. Juniors: Noah Bash, Dom Inzana, Adam Stine, Tanner Morelli, Weston Smith. Sophomores: Mark Palmer, Garret Park. Freshmen: Seth Stewart, Gavin Thompson.