Throughout its history, the Southern Huntingdon wrestling team has struggled to develop a consistently successful program. Regardless of the how things were going, the goal was always to be competitive.
Coming into the 2018-19 season, the Rockets might very well find themselves in an upward trend with 18 wrestlers, including 10 letter winners, on the roster for veteran coach Andy Hull.
“We have good numbers on the varsity team, but also have 16-17 at the junior high level and another 25-30 in our elementary program,” said Hull. Things are definitely heading in the right direction. We have one hole in the lineup – at 195 – but we should be able to fill that.”
The returning letter winners are led by seniors Kole Winfield and Jordan Bailey. Winfield was 10-14 as a freshman, then missed his sophomore seaosn with a knee injury. He came back a year ago and was 33-10 and qualified for the PIAA championship tourney in Hershey.
In three varsity season, Bailey has posted a 52-21 mark.
The remaining lettermen on the roster are: seniors Jason Cole (160) and Casey Willis (220); juniors Dylan Boone (132), Wyatt Campbell (160), Andrew Shoop (120), Kolton Whitsel (106) and Ian wilson (138); and sophomore Brandon Runk (145).
The rest of the team includes: sophomores Raymond Goss (106), Evan Herrington (132) andAaron Kough (182); and freshmen Austin Dell (113), Josh Fleck (126), Hoyt Herrington (106), Cole Hicks (120) and Mason Swanger (170).
“It’s been interesting so far,” Hull noted. “Every kid as wrestled at least two years. The younger kids will jump right in. They know the process, know the basics.
“We’ll be a little inexperienced. The younger kids coming out of the junior high program haven’t wrestled the number of bouts they will this year. This season will be a new experience for them.”
The schedule will have a couple changes. The Rockets will face non-conference Penns Valley. They’ve also dropped the the Elizabethtown Duals and replaced it with the first weekend of the Juniata Duals.
“We may struggle a little bit early until we get our bearings,” added Hull. “We start with Penns Valley and that will be a tough matchup right away. Hopefully we’ll figure things out at the St. Mary’s Tournament.
“I’m stisfied with the schedule as a hole. We’re going back to the Claysburg dual tournament and the Garrett Scott Invitational Tournament at Juniata Valley.”
The Rockets compete in the Inter-County Conference and Hull sees a challenging season ahead.
“In the conference, Glendale was a dual qualifier last year and has most everybody back,” said Hull. “Northern Bedford has a lot of good kids back and Everett should improve through the year and be pretty good by the time we face them.
“Every match is going to be tough. We could finish anywhere depending on how the team matures and comes together.”
The coaching staff will also include Rob Grajeda, Larry Steele, Davin Morgan and Cody Myers. Joe Myers is the junior high coach and he’ll be assisted by Allen Seibert and Joe Ruggiero.
“The team has been working very hard in the early practices,” Hull concluded. “My gut feeling is that things are little different this year. We have some good young kids and I’m excited to see what they have. We also have some older guys who could be able to do some things in the postseason. The experienced kids will need to lead the way.
Southern will open its season this evening with a trip to Penns Valley. The Rockets will then travel to St. Mary’s for an individual tournament Saturday.