The Chambersburg wrestling team has proven its ability in tournament competition over the last two years.
Two years ago, the Trojans qualified three wrestlers for the PIAA Championships, all placed, and Chambersburg took sixth in the team standings. Last year, they upped the ante, with three District 3 champions, three state placewinners - including a PIAA champion - and a remarkable third-place finish in Class AAA.
Now, what to do for an encore?
A pair of two-time PIAA placewinners - returning champion Garett Hammond and seventh-place Tanner Shoap - are back for their senior seasons, so tournament points will likely be had again.
But Chambersburg wants more.
With 13 guys back who wrestled in at least 14 bouts a year ago, the Trojans are not hurting for experience. Throw in a couple of promising freshmen and that lineup has coach Doug Rine itching to get the season underway.
He's hoping the depth and experience in the lineup translates into a better dual meet team from the one that was 11-7 last year.
"We should be pretty competitive in dual meets," he said. "We really only lost one senior from our dual meet team last year. We have a team that I'm hoping does not give up many bonus points due to their experience on the mat.
"It's always a goal of ours to at least make districts."
Rine is referring to the District 3 dual meet tournament, an event the Trojans have never qualified for.
The season begins today and Saturday at what is considered to be the top in-season tournament in high school wrestling, the Ironman Tournament at Walsh Jesuit H.S. in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. If that's not the best event, then the Beast of the East in Newark, Del. could be, and the Trojans are in that one, too, on Dec. 22-23.
"This is our second year in these tournaments, and I think we'll do better this time around," Rine said.
Hammond (39-4 last year) has moved up a weight class, to 152 pounds and is still ranked No.
Shoap (37-9), who will wrestle at Drexel next year and needs 20 wins to become the all-time wins leader at Chambersburg, has remained at 113.
Rine was not surprised that Shoap, currently ranked No. 7, stayed where he was - "He wants badly to win a state championship this year," he said.
Two other Trojans who qualified for the District 3 Tournament are back - David Rump (18-18) at 126 and Dontez King (19-15) at 182.
"Tez wrestled at 195 and 220 all last year," Rine said. "With his strength at 182, I think he'll have quite a year."
The other returner who had a winning record last year, Calvin O'Farrell (21-13) is back at 160.
The rest of the returning starters include David Law (132), Adam Tardosky (170), Devon Williams (195), Cam Kiger (285), John Hughes (138), Dylon Hobart (145), David Helm (220, 285) and Dawson Arnold (113, 120).
Several of those returners may not be able to secure a regular spot in the lineup. Collin Hansley will start at 220, while freshmen have taken up residence at 106 (Colin Runshaw) and 120 (Garrett Kyner).
Rine said, "The two freshmen in the lineup have a lot of experience already. We're looking forward to seeing how well they'll do at the high school level."
In addition to the Ironman and Beast events, the Trojans will compete in the Escape the Rock Tournament at Council Rock South, the Warwick Duals and will host the seven-team Dale Bock Memorial Tournament on Dec.
That leaves room for only the seven Mid Penn Commonwealth Division duals, plus non-league Shippensburg at the end of the season (Jan. 29).
Rine said, "I'm excited about our prospects. We certainly have a great deal of talent and experience and I believe we will be fun to watch."
Notes: Teams in the Bock tourney include two-time defending champion Bermudian Springs, State College, Chestnut Ridge, Fairfield, Southern Huntingdon and Century (Md.) Cedar Cliff moved from the Commonwealth to the Keystone, and State College and Mifflin County were added Former Big Spring star Colten Keck is a volunteer coach.
Ed Gotwals can be reached at 262-4755 and email@example.com.
Trojans at a glance
Coach: Doug Rine, 18th year, 150-164 (.478).
Last year: 11-7 (3-3 Mid Penn Commonwealth Division).
Starters lost: Dawson Peck (PIAA 3rd place, P.O. First Team, now at Virginia Tech); Colten Arnold (P.O. First Team).
Returning starters: Garett Hammond (sr., 152 pounds, 39-4, PIAA champion, District 3 champion, P.O. Wrestler of the Year); Tanner Shoap (sr., 113, 37-9, PIAA 7th place, District 3 champion, P.O. First Team); Dontez King (sr., 182, 19-15, 1-2 at districts, P.O. Second Team); Calvin O'Farrell (jr., 160, 21-13, P.O. Second Team); David Rump (so., 126, 18-18, 0-2 at districts); Devon Williams (sr., 195, 12-15); David Law (so., 132, 8-16); Cam Kiger (jr., 285, 6-17); John Hughes (jr., 138, 4-14); Dylon Hobart (sr., 145, 4-13); Adam Tardosky (sr., 170, 2-12); Dawson Arnold (jr., 113, 3-22); David Helm (jr., 220, 3-12).
Other top wrestlers: Collin Hansley (jr., 220, 0-7); Colin Runshaw (fr., 106); Garrett Kyner (fr., 120); Steven Smith (jr., 138, 0-7); James McKenzie (sr., 145); Greg Wallace (fr., 145); Matt Strunk (fr., 106); Evan Bender (so., 195).
Opener: Friday and Saturday at Walsh Ironman Tournament.