Ches-Mont National Division
Avon Grove Red Devils
Head coach: Frank McCue
Last season: 1-4 division, 12-9 overall
Key wrestlers: Kevin Edwards, Jr., 145; Vince Walls, Sr., 285; Ryan Hoffman, Sr., 220; Joe Moran, Sr., 170; Josh Walls, Jr., 195
Outlook: Edwards was a win away from qualifying for the state tournament as a sophomore and brings his explosive, lightweight style to the middle weights. Vince Walls and Hoffman were regional qualifiers as well. Vince Walls may be the 285-pounder to beat in the area and Josh Walls improved, qualifying for districts. Avon Grove lost just three starters to graduation so there will be a core to keep it competitive and represented through the postseason. Hoffman has lingering injuries from football that could limit him.
Coatesville Red Raiders
Head coach: Bear Stephens
Last season: 3-2 division, 17-8 overall
Key wrestlers: Chase Stephens, Jr., 145; Colin McBride, Sr., 152; Brent Windle, Jr., 138; Sean McBride, Jr., 182; Ryan Dellicompagni, Soph., 132
Outlook: Coatesville has had a state medalist three straight years and Stephens is a candidate to make it four. Stephens was a win away from a state medal as a sophomore and has 73 career wins. He has a talented practice-mate in Windle, who won 32 bouts last year and reached regionals. The McBride brothers add experience to a lineup that lost two state qualifiers. Dan Groce (170) was a district qualifier and Jordan Wise (220) is back as a district qualifier from 2013.
Downingtown East Cougars
Head coach: Joe Horvath
Last season: 5-0 division, 22-4 overall
Key wrestlers: Wade Cummings, Sr., 126; James Strommer, Sr., 113; Jude McDowell, Sr., 152; Nik Zimmerman, Sr., 132; Alec Horne, Sr., 170
Outlook: East has won four straight National Division titles and lost five starters from last year’s squad. There is still plenty of skill in the lineup to make it five in a row, and it starts with Cummings, who placed fourth in the state as a junior. His 134 career wins are just 20 shy from tying the Chester County public career wins record. Strommer, Zimmerman, McDowell, Horne and Brent Czajkowski (182) are returning regional qualifiers, though McDowell will miss time with an injury. Sophomore Brett Horne (113) and freshman Lukas Richie (106) add to a very strong lightweight group.
Downingtown West Whippets
Head coach: Brad Breese
Last season: 1-4 division, 10-17 overall
Key wrestlers: Doug Zapf, Soph., 106; Cole Zapf, Jr., 170; Joe Rennie, Sr., 126; Gio Angelini, Jr., 152; Gavin Hale, Soph., 145
Outlook: The Whippets had a disappointing league season last year, but only two starters graduated. West has a chance to be much improved, starting with Doug Zapf, who reached regionals as a freshman. He’s still growing into 106, but is skilled on his feet. Cole Zapf missed most of last season with an injury but adds toughness in the middle. Rennie, Angelini and Alex Murta (132) bring experience and Hale is wily and showed promise as a freshman. The Whippets will be tested with a tough early-season schedule.
West Chester East Vikings
Head coach: John Gallo
Last season: 1-4 division, 8-9 overall
Key wrestlers: Noah Hankin, Sr., 126; Caleb Subach, Sr., 182; Erik Gassenmeyer, Sr., 195; Justin Cooper, Sr., 160; Aaron Nelson, Sr., 170
Outlook: Half of the Vikings’ lineup will be held by seniors, giving East its most experienced team in some time. Hankin is 17 wins away from 100 and has made it to regionals the past two seasons. He is the biggest star for East, which is more comprised with solid veterans. Cooper, Neslon, Sumach and Gassenmeyer give the Vikings strength in the mid to upperweights. Sophomore Tommy Luke (120) won 24 bouts a year ago and freshman Corey Celenza (106) follows in his two brothers’ footsteps.
West Chester Henderson Warriors
Head coach: Rob Beighley
Last season: 4-1 division, 20-5 overall
Key wrestlers: Kyle Medrow, Sr., 138; Jake Reid, Jr., 120; Weston Frame, Jr., 160; Ray Martin, Soph., 126; Luke Phayre, Fr., 106
Outlook: The Warriors’ strength is in the lighter weights, with Medrow the grand finale. As a three-time regional qualifier, Medrow has 93 career wins and is one of the best pinners in the area. Reid and Martin are a scrappy pair and Luke Phayre had a successful middle school career. His brother Matt Phayre, as well as Ty Mullen, had double digit wins last year. Henderson added the King of the Mountain tournament to help bolster the schedule.
Ches-Mont American Division
Great Valley Patriots
Head coach: Mike Semar
Last season: 4-2 division, 8-7 overall
Key wrestlers: Nate Tang, Sr., 182; Luke Wilson, Soph., 126; Nick Chawaga, Sr., 160; Lake Johnson, Sr., 195; Jaydon McGoldrick, Sr., 152
Outlook: The Patriots managed a winning record and third-place finish in the American with just one regional qualifier on the roster. They will have a similar look this year with many solid, unheralded grapplers. Wilson, Chawaga, Johnson, Mike Colon (132), Eric Payne (170) and Ryan Cavanaugh (285) reached districts last year and Tang was 6-0 before an injury ended his season. McGoldrick comes over from Westtown School and there is a group of freshmen with some potential.
Kennett Blue Demons
Head coach: Tyrone Johnson
Last season: 2-4 division, 5-10 overall
Key wrestlers: Drew Massetti, Jr., 126; Tyler LaCosta, Sr., 160; Logan Reigel, Soph., 113; Gerhardt Reiter, Soph., 120; Mary Nichols, Sr., 106
Outlook: Massetti, LaCosta and Reigel reached regionals last year and Reiter was one spot away from joining them. Each won at least 25 bouts a year ago and give Kennett a good core. Nichols is looking for her first trip to districts, but after bumping up the past couple seasons, she will be better suited at 106. Bryan Castaneda (220) and Jake Anderson (132) add to a solid sophomore class, and Kennett only has two seniors in the starting lineup.
Head coach: Mark Durante
Last season: 1-5 division, 2-11 overall
Key wrestlers: Scott Burridge, Jr., 160; Liam Babauta, Soph., 113; Noah Hoopes, Jr., 145; Seth Hoopes, Fr., 106; Ryan Sharpless, Jr., 170
Outlook: The Braves only lost two seniors from a year ago, but are still on the inexperienced side as a whole. Burridge and Babauta are the only returners who had a winning record last year. Burridge led the team with 27 wins, and he was a win shy of regionals, taking fifth at districts. Octorara is a little light in the heavier weights, but Durante believes his team is making strides in the right direction. Seth Hoopes is expected to be competitive as a freshman at 106.
Head coach: Scott Gold
Last season: 0-6 division, 5-20 overall
Key wrestlers: Harry Marr, Jr., 120; Mike Galbraith, Sr., 132; David Cox, Jr., 170; Alex Chavez, Sr., 138; Brandon Sheffield, Fr., 126
Outlook: Numbers have plagued the Hornets in recent years, but Oxford didn’t lose anyone to graduation and have a decent amount of freshmen coming in. Marr and Galbraith finished fifth in at districts last year and give the Hornets strength in the lightweights. Sheffield will help there too and could be an impact freshman. Cox has a lot of talent but injuries have ended his first two seasons prior to the postseasons. Oxford should be improved be much more competitive.
Head coach: Chris Matz
Last season: 5-1 division, 10-7 overall
Key wrestlers: Jake Taylor, Jr., 120; Mitch Camp, Sr., 138; Sam Immediato, Sr., 126; Ryan Margolin, Sr., 182; Jack Baccellieri, Sr., 285
Outlook: The Indians some solid experience back in their lineup, starting with Taylor. The junior reached regionals a year ago and has 60 career wins. Camp was a fellow 30-match winner last year and is seeking his first trip to regionals. Unionville is decent up top, with Margolin, Baccellieri and Mike Maguire. Margolin was a regional qualifier, winning 22 bouts. Joey Caldwell (132) could contribute as a freshman. Matt Chaclas and Laz Kirifides are no longer on the team.
West Chester Rustin Golden Knights
Head coach: Brad Harkins
Last season: 6-0 division, 15-2 overall
Key wrestlers: Costas Hatzipavlides, Sr., 182; Brett Kaliner, Jr., 120; Jon Reardon, Jr., 132; Dan Labus, Soph., 145; Isaiah Spriggs, Sr., 220
Outlook: The Golden Knights are poised to win their third consecutive American Division title and have the talent to be a top 10 team in the district. Hatzipavlides and Brett Kaliner made their first trips to states last year and have 72 and 67 wins, respectively. Labus took sixth at regionals as a freshman, a win away from states. Spriggs has 70 career wins and he and Reardon add stability. Sophomore Ethan Harkins (145) and freshmen Tyler Kaliner (126) and Collin Hurley (145) add to the depth. The Beast of the East tournament is a big time addition to the Knights’ schedule.
Head coach: Tom Ellicker
Last season: 8-3 Central League, 16-5 overall
Key wrestlers: Dan Iredale, Sr., 160; Mike Karas, Sr., 285; Eric Hutchinson, Jr., 145; Jack Frantz, Sr., 170; Kade Lamarre, Jr., 220
Outlook: The Pioneers lost six seniors with at least 20 wins so there will be an adjustment as new wrestlers fill in. Fortunately for ‘Stoga, Iredale, Karas and Hutchinson bring leadership after winning at least 22 bouts apiece last year and reaching regionals. Iredale is looking to taket he next step after entering regionals with an undefeated record but falling a win shy of a potential trip to Hershey. Karas and Hutchinson will do a lot of winning in the league and help a young team grow.
Malvern Prep Friars
Head coach: Nathan Lautar
Last season: 6-0 Inter-Ac
Key wrestlers: Nick Lattanze, Sr., 126; Matt Lattanze, Sr., 138; Mike Beard, Soph., 182; Rashon Lusane, Sr., 195; Seth Janney, Jr., 220; Shane Hanson-Ashworth, Fr., 106
Outlook: Malvern used to have a few studs and a bunch of holes. Nowadays, Malvern has a stocked lineup that should keep it in the top-four as a team at prep nationals. Beard finished second at prep states and nationals as a freshman and is ranked No. 7 in the country on flowrestling.com. The Lattanze brothers are multiple-time All-Americans, Lusane took third at nationals and Janney placed second in the PIAA tournament with South Western. Hanson-Ashworth, Henry Hague (113) of Coatesville and Mark Salvatore (120) give the Friars a strong start.
Phelps School Lions
Head coach: Ira Miles
Key wrestlers: Al Ciccitto, Sr., 152; Zane Black, Jr., 195; Eric Appenzeller, Jr., 113; Jameel Coles, Fr., 220; Khasim Mumin, Fr., 182
Outlook: The Lions have had some individual success after their recent reboot of the program. Ciccitto took second at prep states last year and captains a team that also has a lot of inexperienced athletes. Black transferred from Wyoming Seminary after placing second at prep states and fourth at prep nationals as a sophomore. Coles was rated the No. 5 incoming freshman accord to papowerwrestling.com, and he and Mumin hail from Philadelphia. Appenzeller is in his second year on the team after transferring from Ridley.
Head coach: Jay Farrow
Last season: 10-8 overall
Key wrestlers: Ethan Gadra, Soph., 126; Alex Taylor, Soph., 145; Max Starr, Jr., 170; Tim Carr, Soph., 182; Alec Butler-Roberts, Soph., 285
Outlook: The Quakers are made up of a young core, and are trying to improve on their second-place finish in the Friends School League. Taylor leads returners with 30 wins as a freshman. Starr had 22 wins and Gadra had 20. With some returners in the upper weights, Westtown hopes to better its eighth-place finish at the prep state tournament.
- Downingtown East’s Wade Cummings (126) is the active wins leader in District 1 with 134 for his career. He needs 21 to break the Chester County public school record of 154, which is held by Corey McQuiston of West Chester Rustin.
- There could be a big group of locals joining the 100-win club this year. West Chester Henderson’s Kyle Medrow (93), Coatesville’s Colin McBride (87) and Chase Stephens (73), West Chester East’s Noah Hankin (83), Downingtown East’s Jude McDowell (83) and James Strommer (66), West Chester Rustin’s Costas Hatzipavlides (72), Isaiah Spriggs (70) and Brett Kaliner (67), Avon Grove’s Ryan Hoffman (72), Conestoga’s Dan Iredale (67) and Unionville’s Mitch Camp (65) all have a shot.
- Downingtown East is going for its fifth straight National Division title and are the favorites to do so. Six Cougars are returning regional qualifiers, and even if Jude McDowell (152) misses significant time, East is still the team to beat. After them it’s tough to call. Each of the other four teams has some strong individual talent but plenty of holes throughout the lineups.
- West Chester Rustin is the favorite to win the American Division for the third straight year. The Golden Knights may challenge for the top team in the entire league, and could see Downingtown East at a dual meet tournament in early January. The rest of the division will likely be battling for second. Kennett and Oxford are on the rise with some young talent, but as is typically the case in the American, filling holes in the lineup is the biggest challenge.
- The Ches-Mont League has had a top-four finisher in the PIAA tournament eight straight seasons, with Cummings’ fourth-place at 126 pounds the most recent. There are four returning state qualifiers from the Ches-Mont and 19 other returning regional qualifiers. Dan Iredale (160) gives Conestoga its biggest threat to get to Hershey.
- Malvern Prep has loaded up with more big names and is the favorite to win the Inter-Ac League for a second straight year. The Friars are ranked 26th in the country as a team on intermatwrestle.com and sophomore Mike Beard is rated No. 12 at 170. PIAA runner-up at 220, Seth Janney, transferred from South Western High and Malvern introduces a strong freshman class, as well. Phelps School got Zane Black, ranked No. 13 at 220, who transferred from Wyoming Seminary, and freshman Jameel Coles (220) is one of the top-rated freshmen in the state.
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