When the past and the future both look impressive, sometimes the present tense is the hardest to focus on.
It is the potential pitfall facing Avon Grove senior Edgar Garcia as his final postseason begins tomorrow.
The elder statesman of the local 106-pound weight class is a year removed from an eighth-place finish in the state tournament and a half-year away from beginning his next chapter as a wrestler and pre-med student at Franklin and Marshall College.
It'd be easy to lose some of the fire in the grind of the postseason, which starts Saturday at West Chester Rustin at 9 a.m. (finals at 6 p.m.) for the Ches-Mont championships. Wrestlers from the 13 league teams will compete and the top seven from each weight will advance to the District 1 Central tournament the following Saturday.
Garcia is well aware that many have medalled as juniors only to never return to Hershey again. He'd rather just not consider that option.
"I try not to think about it,' said Garcia, Avon Grove's winningest wrestler with 124 career victories. "It's a new season every year. What I did last year is great, but I feel like I worked hard to continue to improve. It's a new challenge.'
The dynamic at 106 pounds is always interesting, statewide, often pitting wily veterans against youthful, eventual stars of the sport. Being a senior only takes you so far in a land greatly populated by underclassmen.
Garcia has excelled on his feet his three-plus seasons and has really had to hone his fundamentals this winter while wrestling up at 113 or 120, as freshman Kevin Edwards was at 106.
"I wrestled some really talented kids,' Garcia said. "Wrestling with bigger kids, you really have to focus on technique and getting better.'
Edwards is one of six Ches-Mont first-timers in the postseason with 20 wins this season. Edwards will compete at 113 with Garcia dropping, but the 106-pound bracket will be very competitive. It's Garcia's torch to pass, but he'd rather pass it from the podium in Hershey.
Rustin's Brett Kaliner (29-5), Coatesville's Sean McBride (27-3), Unionville's Jake Taylor (24-11) and West Chester Henderson's Jacob Reid (21-10) comprise the leading quartet of freshmen chasing Garcia, while Downingtown East sophomore James Strommer (24-11) has some nice wins heading into his first postseason. Downingtown West senior Troy Smith (24-6) is a returning regional qualifier at 106, as well.
"They're young, but some kids are very talented,' Garcia said. "I've learned over the years not to take anybody lightly. I have to focus on what I do well and go out and attack.'
A quick look at the other 13 weight classes:
This should be a very even weight, with West Chester East's Noah Hankin (24-6) the No. 1 seed. Joining him in the bracket is Downingtown East's Jude McDowell (21-14), who just dropped from 120, Avon Grove's Edwards (26-7), who just bumped up from 106, and Rustin's Jon Reardon (22-11), who owns a pin over Hankin this season. Unionville's Bobby Murray (15-9) is the lone senior, and Kennett's Mary Nichols (19-12) is the lone female competitor in the tournament.
Downingtown East's Wade Cummings (35-0) is the presumptive favorite, with Henderson's Kyle Medrow (29-3) on the opposite side. Cummings beat Medrow 14-4 last week and both were regional qualifiers as freshmen, as was No. 3 seed Colin McBride (28-3) of Coatesville.
Jared Leonetti (32-2) of Downingtown East dropped from 132 last week and is the No. 1 seed. Dante Angelini (25-8) of Downingtown West joins him in the top of the bracket, while Henderson's returning regional qualifier Joey Wilson (28-4) and Coatesville freshman Chase Stephens (24-4) are the No. 2 and 3 seeds, respectively.
A trio of seniors hold the top three seeds — Unionville's Nate Chaclas (26-7), Henderson's Josh Nichter (29-3) and Downingtown West's Tristan Reynolds (18-9). Chaclas and Reynolds reached regionals last winter while Nichter is looking for his first trip after his best season as a Warrior.
This weight might be the deepest of the tournament. Sun Valley's Alex Elliot (26-2) is the top seed and has a pair of seniors, Rustin's Matt Ricci (18-5) and Coatesville's Brian Griest (14-5), on his side. Seniors Brad Patton (17-5) of Henderson and Troy McBride (23-7) of Octorara and juniors Austin Lillis (26-5) of Downingtown East and Unionville's Ian Larson (26-9) will duke it out on the bottom half.
Great Valley's Shane Ruhnke (26-3), a returning state qualifier, is the favorite and has a pair of motivated seniors, Downingtown East's Matt Fischer (22-14) and Rustin's Thomas Hatzipavlides (24-8), on his side. Five of the six wrestlers on the bottom half are seniors, with No. 2 Noah Stephens (23-3) of Coatesville and No. 3 Mike Caldwell (30-6) of Unionville leading the way.
Only three seniors reside here, including Coatesville's Stanley Woodward (23-7) on the bottom half. Manoa Taniguchi (23-11) of Downingtown West is the No. 2 seed. Sun Valley's second No. 1 seed Steve Okoorian (27-4) will be tough to take down up top, and Downingtown East's James Meyer (26-11) is one of his challengers.
Top-seeded Downingtown East senior Chris Jarani (34-2) is the most well-known entity here, qualifying for regionals a year ago. After him there are a handful of grapplers that have shown potential this season. Coatesville's Zach Dellicompagna (23-9) and Rustin's Shane Boyer (16-12) are the No. 2 and 3 seeds, respectively, with Henderson's Max Sontag (14-12) at No. 4. Great Valley's Nate Tang (8-6) could make noise, as well.
Downingtown West's Gabe Hale (29-3) made the drop from 182 and is a returning regional qualifier, as is Octorara's Nick Prange (25-5). Henderson's Cody Lind (22-9) is looking to get back to districts on Prange's side, and a pair of up-and-coming sophomores, Rustin's Costas Hatzipavlides (21-10) and Downingtown East's Alec Horne (22-14), are up with Hale.
With Hale dropping to 170 and Coatesville's Wesley McGuire bumping to 195, the road for Avon Grove's Caleb Edwards (24-1) got much less bumpy. He is one of seven seniors, but may find himself against Downingtown East junior Jason Gibson (25-6) in the finals.
McGuire's move up from 182 makes the road tougher for top-seeded Adam Pleines (34-0) of Downingtown East. They're on opposite sides, and Avon Grove's Ryan Hoffman (18-14) and Kennett's Rudy Perez (22-9) are up with Pleines. West Chester East's Rob Ritrovato (23-7) and Great Valley's Marcus Johnson (8-5) are on McGuire's side.
Coatesville's Mike Boykin (27-0) hasn't lost since the semifinal round at states last winter and is the clear favorite to win here. Downingtown East's Billy McGinley (30-6) has more wins this season and is the No. 2 seed. Rustin's Isaiah Spriggs (20-11) and West Chester East's Joe Trama (16-9) are the No. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively.
Another deep weight, 285 should be competitive throughout. Downingtown East's Sean Snodgrass (31-3) reached states a year ago and is the No. 1 seed, opposite of No. 2 Dean Lang (26-2) of Great Valley and No. 3 Cory Tomasetti (26-5). Unionville senior Will Hart (26-7) is up top as the No. 4 seed and could have an interesting bout against Henderson junior James McDonald (24-8), who has shown obvious improvement this season.
Other area schools
Malvern Prep, Phelps School and Westtown will compete in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools wrestling tournament today and Saturday at Mercersberg Academy. The top five from each weight class will qualify for the national tournament the following week at Lehigh University.
For Malvern Prep, Matt Lattanze (132) is looking for his second straight state title, while Nick Lattanze (106) and Jake Anderson (220) hope to improve on runner-up finishes from a year ago. Ryder Harkins (182) is a returning fourth-place finisher and Frank Satriale (113) placed fifth last winter while at Westtown.
At Westtown, Clay McKee (170) starts his campaign to repeat as All-American as a senior after placing second in the state last season.
Phelps is led by Fred Mase (113) and Al Ciccitto (132) in the school's first appearance at the state tournament.
Conestoga will compete in the Central League tournament at Haverford High on Saturday. The top six placers will move on to the District 1 West tournament at Spring-Ford the following Saturday. Kevin Zhao (132) and Dan Iredale (145) have a great opportunity to reach the finals of their respective weights, while freshman Eric Hutchinson (113) will have his work cut out in a deeper bracket.