Two years back, the Mount Union wrestling team had only 15 athletes on the roster to start the season. Injuries depleted that number to the point that the Trojans were forfeiting 4-5 weight classes each match. Still, they were able to post an 11-9 record for the year and qualify for the District 5-AA Duals.
After a senior-laden team posted a 14-6 record last winter, the Trojans again find themselves short-handed to start the season.
There are only 12 wrestlers on the roster, but seven are returning letter winners. Head coach Corey Wertz enters his 18th season with a 283-96 benchmark looking to get another solid season from the wrestlers he has available.
“We have a number of issues coming into the season,” said Wertz. “Being short-handed means we have to stay healthy. We also have some inexperienced wrestlers who will have to be ready to step up and contribute quickly if we’re going to have success.”
The returning letter winners are: seniors Caleb Morgan (152) and Dawson Hockenberry (126); juniors Jake Ryan (220) and Kevin Morehouse (120); and sophomores Bryce Beatty (113), Trevor Skopic (138) and Clayton Arnold (195).
The remainder of the roster includes sophomores Jonathan Balles (145) and Connor Seiber (152) along with freshmen Caden Chilcote, Robbie Brantner (132) and Jayce Reck (152).
“Half the roster is letter winners and we just have to build from there,” said Wertz. “Wins are the major goal. Everybody will be expected to contribute from the start. That comes from the work in the practice room. With holes in the lineup, we’ll have to work even harder.”
The Trojan graduated nine seniors last spring, including a pair of PIAA place winners. Josh Boozel reached the finals for the second straight year, securing his first title. Andrew Todaro had a very good year that included a third-place medal.”
Ryan is the leader coming back with a 71-16 career record. He was 39-9 last year and finished fourth in the PIAA individual tournament. Beatty was 26-12 and was also a regional qualifier last spring. Morehouse finished the season 18-11and Arnold was 13-13.
“Our goals stay the same,” Wertz continued. “Wrestling is a unique sport. A wrestler can overcome a lot with hard work. Work can make you stronger each and every day. Hard work in practice can prepare you to succeed against wrestlers with better technique or natural ability.”
The schedule has some changes from a year ago. The Trojans have dropped the Warwick Duals and Line Mountain Duals. They have been replaced by the Philipsburg duals and Mifflin County Duals.
The usual suspects will be at the top of the list in the Inter-County Conference. Wertz points out that Glendale will be very solid with most everybody back from a year ago. Moshannon Valley, West Branch and Northern Bedford are traditionally strong and Wertz expects that to continue.
“The postseason will be tougher this year with the addition of Bald Eagle and Phillipsburg in Class 2A,” Wertz started. “They are quality programs and they’ll also make regionals even tougher.”
The Trojans will open their season tomorrow at the Philipsburg Duals. They’ll begin ICC competition Tuesday with a trip to Bellwood-Antis.