S. ABINGTON TWP. — The Abington Heights wrestling team may have only three seniors on its roster, but head coach Steve Peters believes the group is trending in the right direction.
“We have more kids that are committed, more kids that are willing to work harder, and more kids that are willing to go the extra mile,” Peters said. “I really couldn’t be much happier with the attitude and work ethic of our athletes this year.
“The ultimate goal is to make the sport of wrestling more popular.”
Senior Chris Langan, who is expected to compete at 170 pounds this season, returns after winning 25 matches and advancing to the Class 3A North East Regional Tournament while competing at 152.
Langan lost both matches at regionals last season and is determined to achieve more success this year.
“I’m hoping to place in the top four at regionals and get that ticket to states,” he said. “I put in a lot of hard work this offseason. I traveled all over the place and worked on my positioning. I really need to work on getting more offensive. I’ve wrestled over 60 matches, so I feel pretty confident going into the season.”
Senior Joe Makowski is expected to drop down to the 220-pound weight class after wrestling at 285 last season.
Senior Juan Loboda returns to the program, after competing for Elk Lake last season, and will wrestle at 132 pounds.
Junior RJ Knott, who won 20 matches and placed sixth in districts last season, returns at 285 pounds.
Junior Jacob Rosenstein, who placed fifth in district at 132 pounds, is expected to wrestle at 145 this season.
Junior Sam Northup is projected to make the jump from the 152 to 160-pound weight class.
“I did a lot of (weight) lifting over the summer and tried to get to more tournaments and camps,” Northup said. “I think I’ve improved a lot in my neutral position. I’m getting to my shots a lot better from top and bottom.”
Junior Scott Jacoby, who had 20 wins last season while wrestling at 120 pounds, is expected to compete at 152 this year.
Junior Aidan Price returns at 170 pounds and believes the team could be poised for a successful season.
“I feel like we’re looking really strong,” Price said. “The intensity at practice is strong and our chemistry is growing every day. As a team, I think we can go really far, maybe even have a top three finish at districts.”
Junior Higinio Loboda is projected to wrestle at 138 pounds.
Sophomores Tre Kerrigan (220), Keane Kiat (113), Ty Wilmot (120) and Cade Kroptavich (285), along with freshmen Brandon Grogan (106), James Brown (138) and Gavin Drake (195) are also expected to contribute.
The team must replace five seniors who graduated — Adam Wellard (182/195), Eric Jacoby (145), Logan Hivner (220), Tom Hildebrand (182) and Sean Myers (132) — and another, Owen Hivner (170), who transferred to Lackawanna Trail.
Wellard, Logan Hivner and Owen Hivner each advanced to regionals last season.
The Comets finished with a 1-3 record in Lackawanna League Division 1 play last season and placed 10th out of 12 teams in the District 2 Class 3A Championships.
“I see the team going to district duals and I think we can win a match there,” Langan said. “I think we’re going to have a winning record.”
While Peters would like to have more varsity wrestlers on the team, he’s confident the Comets should be competitive in each league match.
“After Christmas, we should fill every spot in the lineup for the first time in about 10 years.,” Peters said. “I don’t think there is anyone is the Lackawanna League that we can’t beat.”
Abington Heights will start the season by participating in the Gary Woodruff Memorial Duals at Wyalusing High School Dec. 9.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.