Western Wayne features a fascinating mix of youth and experience
Western Wayne put together another outstanding season last winter on the high school wrestling scene.
The Wildcats powered their way to a 7-1 record in the Lackawanna League, finishing behind only undefeated Honesdale in the final Division II standings.
Coach Dante Terenzio's squad went 16-7 overall, finished as runners-up at the District Two Duals tourney and advanced four grapplers to Northeast Regionals.
“We had a pretty solid year,” he said. “And, we're hoping to build on that for this year. We're going to be very young, but we also have a nice nucleus of older kids. It's a different kind of atmosphere, but I'm excited to see what we can do.”
Local fans will get their first chance to see the 'Cats in action this weekend. The local lads trek to Catasaqua to compete in that school's annual individual tourney.
“Conditioning is the main thing I'm looking for right now,” Coach Terenzio said.
“I want to see that our kids can go six full minutes. One of our biggest goals every year is to be in better shape than our opponent. I definitely want us to be competitive, but we have to focus on the big picture.”
Western Wayne is back on the mat next weekend for the Lackawanna League tournament. This event will be hosted once again by Wallenpaupack, starting on Saturday morning.
Any discussion of the 2017-18 Western Wayne varsity wrestling team must begin with Cole Fuller and Braden McIntosh.
Fuller is on pace to become the winningest grappler in school history. The battle-tested senior has piled up 105 wins to date, just 21 shy of Mark Turner's all-time mark.
“It's very interesting in the practice room right now,” Coach Terenzio said with a smile. “Cole and Mark are working together and they're really pushing one another.”
Fuller captured gold at last year's District Two Class AA tournament. He then medaled at regionals and advanced to the PIAA state tourney for a third straight year, finishing the season with a 36-7 record.
“We're expecting huge things from Cole this year,” Coach Terenzio said. “He's a big, strong kid … the perfect mix of of power and technique. Anything less than a state medal will be disappointing for Cole.”
McIntosh is also a senior who's coming off a stellar season. Braden went 30-12 as a junior. He took bronze at districts, earning a third trip to regionals.
Braden comes into this season with 73 career wins. So, if he maintains his normal pace, he'll reach 100 by the end of the year.
“Braden is a pinner,” said Coach Terenzio. “We can always count on him for bonus points. He's a very physical wrestler, but his technique is excellent, too.
“We've been working hard on his conditioning with an eye toward the end of the season when he'll need to wrestle six full minutes against really good competition.”
With a roster chock full of underclassmen, Coach Terenzio is quick to point out that two freshmen in particular are showing an immense amount of promise.
Matt Leslie will get his baptism under fire at the 145-pound weight class.
A Lackawanna League champion in junior high, Leslie is champing at the bit to make his varsity debut. He's a year-round wrestler who competes all over the region during the off-season
“I'm really anxious to see Matt get out there,” Coach Terenzio said. “He's a very talented kid. Matt is just going to get better and better with experience.”
Kasen Taylor is another frosh primed for a breakout debut season. Taylor also earned individual league laurels in junior high and will crack the varsity line-up at 152 pounds.
“The things I like best about Kasen are his maturity and poise,” said Coach Terenzio. “He's wise beyond his years. Kasen is a rally physical wrestler and he's absolutely fearless.”
Western Wayne saw its school record winning streak come to an end last winter, but the Wildcats are primed to start another.
The Varden lads' lone league loss in 2016-17 was to Division II champion Honesdale, but Coach Terenzio believes his team will be right back in the mix this season.
“If things go the way I think they will, there's no reason why we can't challenge for the division title again,” he said.
Terenzio, who's twice been named Class AA Coach of the Year, sees the Hornets and Valley View as their main competition.
Lackawanna League action gets underway on Tuesday, January 2 with a tri-meet in Scranton. The Wildcats will face Elk Lake and Prep in that one.
Dual meets will follow against the likes of Trail, Blue Ridge and Valley View. The showdown with Honesdale is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 24 as part of a tri-meet hosted by Mountain View.