Lions’ Stricker hop­ing for a healthy sea­son

Ju­niors LaBrier, Jens, along with se­nior Kirby head­line ros­ter that has bod­ies in ev­ery slot

Record Observer - - Sports - By WIL­LIAM HAUFE bhaufe@star­

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).

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Bil­l_Haufe. Email me at bhaufe@star­

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