Lions’ Stricker hoping for a healthy season
Juniors LaBrier, Jens, along with senior Kirby headline roster that has bodies in every slot
He’s had experienced teams. He’s had young teams. But in 30-plus years of coaching, North Caroline High head wrestling coach Tim Frey has never had a team so divided down the middle in terms of experience and youth.
“I have not had this big of a mix where I’ve had very experienced, and no kids in the middle, and then very, very young. So I have two extremes,” Frey said. “No middle ground. We’re working with experienced kids and then we’re working with brand new kids.
“It’s working,” Frey continued. “The young guys are getting better. The older guys are working with them and trying to teach them as much as they can. We’re going to need time. We’re going to need time with the young guys to get them at least up to speed and know the basics and start to understand what goes on in matches. I think we’ll get there.”
Maybe sooner than he thinks.
Frey was genuinely stunned at Wednesday’s 38-34 season-opening victory over perennial Bayside heavyweight Stephen Deca- tur. That was followed by a title-winning effort at this weekend’s annual Andy Perez Memorial Tournament at Cambridge-South Dorchester, where the Bulldogs won nine of 14 weight classes.
The experienced side of the lineup should have North Caroline in contention for a third consecutive Bayside Conference tournament title, and a fourth straight Class 2A-1A East Regional Dual Meet championship.
Senior Alex Eaton (47-2) lost by a point in last season’s 182-pound state final, and figures to again have a strong shot at going far. Sophomore Ryan Bauer (436), who won the 2A-1A East title at 106, is at 113, while big brother and region runner-up Tyler Bauer (41-7) goes from 145 to 170. Junior Tyler Riley (29-19) qualified for states last season, finishing fourth in the East at 160. That group could be joined in Upper Marlboro by senior Brandon McIntyre (132), fifth at regionals, and juniors Seth Layton (138), Alex Grable (182) and Noah Schall (220).
“I feel like we’ve got seven to eight guys that have possibilities, depending how they wrestle, that they could do very well this year in Baysides, regionals and states,” said Frey, who had the Bauers, Brandon McIntyre, Layton, Riley, Grable, Schall, Eaton and freshman Reilly McIntyre each win their respective weight classes at the Perez Memorial Tournament.
“It’s really going to be how the young guys come along,” Frey said. “That’s going to be the big thing. And then the more experience guys will have to get bonus points all the time.”
The progress of Cody Groves (113), Rhian Silsley (126), Trent Hillard (145) and Jarrett Cooper (285) could potentially ease that load at some juncture in the season, though.
“We’ll be OK,” Frey said.
Here’s a look at the local teams:
KENT ISLAND Though there’s a hole at 106, the Buccaneers figure to be among the conference’s toughest and contend for another spot in the Class 2A-1A South duals, where they lost last season in the semifinals.
The graduation of state finalist Justin Thomas (132) and state qualifier Ryan Domogauer (138) hurts, but back are seven who registered top-six finishes in the South Regional last winter, including defending 170-pound champion Brady Loveless (31-11), and five others between 132 and 182.
“We have some experience back, particularly at the upper weights,” second-year head coach Tommy Sitar said. “Thirty-two through 70 is looking really good right now, and looking young.”
Fifth in the region at 120 last season, junior Dylan Finlay has been bumped up to 132, while classmate Nick Leisenring is back after placing sixth regionally at 152. Region runner-up Jake Hipps (Jr., 160) is also back along with Bert Schrecongost (182), who took sixth at 220 last season. Rounding out the lineup is senior Jimmy VanLew (113), fifth at regionals, Jacob Simpson (Jr., 120), Ryan Salus (Sr., 145), Michael Scott (Sr., 195), Hadyn Blanchard (Fr., 220) and Dave Lumb (Sr., 285).
“This team can definitely compete in the Bayside,” Sitar said. “Not having a six hurts us, but we’ll wrestle through it.” QUEEN ANNE’S COUNTY
After a season dotted by injury, second-year head coach David Stricker said, “I’m really just hoping for a healthy season. We had everything from broken shoulders to kidney stones to concussions last year. A lot of our young guys got a lot of quality varsity experience. I’m just hoping they all can stay healthy and that experience from last year kind of pays off.”
Juniors Trysten LaBrier (126) and Colin Jens (132), along with senior Patrick Kirby (170) all qualified for states last season.
“I definitely think all three of them have a shot to go back,” Stricker said. “All
three of them have worked even in the offseason to get better. We’re hoping it all pays of f.”
The Lions appear to be one of the few North teams that can fill every class, though they’re young at the lighter weights with freshmen Charles Hunter (113), Eric Smith (120), Jacob West-
fall (120), and sophomores Chris Spray (106), Jeremy Brockson (120), Isaac Murdoch (126), Alex Kimble (145) and T.J. Myers (160). Stricker also has juniors Jacob Heinz (138), Joseph Garris (195), and seniors Jamie Keating (152), Steve Melvin (182), Garrett Deese (220), Mitchell Sherbert (220), Jason Deal (285) and Chuckie Lansinger (285).
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