TOWAMENCIN — The school books of North Penn's Alex Price are decorated with motivational quotes and inspiring photos. After his senior season is over the 182-pound wrestler hopes to be the only thing more decorated than his school supplies. Price has been preparing all year for another crack at a state medal.
Losing to Easton's Tyler Green 10-2 in the PIAA Class AAA first round at Hershey last March has been eating at Price. There is not a second of the day that goes by that the captain of the Knights does not think about ways to improve on his junior campaign.
"So people say my junior year went well, but I know I could have done better,' Price said. "Not placing at states has been bugging me. Every school book I have has quotes in it and pictures of other wrestlers that did well. I have the names of the people that beat me and how they beat me. I also have a picture of an empty state podium.'
Price's teammate, 152-pound Jeffrey Reimel, decided to sit out the football season this year to concentrate on wrestling year-round. Not only does Reimel have big plans for his senior season, but is looking to wrestle at the college level.
"I did not think at the beginning of the season I would be at states,' Reimel said. "I took it one match at a time and made it. I did not play football this year and wrestled all summer. I wanted to be out there with the football team, but it was the right choice for me. I dedicated my time to one sport to be that much better.'
The experience of being District One champions and making the trip to Hershey's Giant Center should not only benefit the two state returning qualifiers, but help a young, talented group coached by Robert Shettsline — who is in his 20th season — compete in a competitive Suburban One League Continental Conference.
"The team looks promising,' Shettsline said. "We have a couple of ninth graders that can hold on their own. Price and Reimel bring leadership to the team. They can go very far. I expect them to medal this year.'
The Knights will find out what they are made of right away. They have entered themselves in the difficult King of the Mountain tournament and open the year with a league match against defending Continental Champs, Pennridge. The Rams are headlined by senior state medalists Scott Parker (third place, 113 pounds) and Ben Ross (fifth place, 120 pounds).
"Pennridge is tough in the light weights, but we match up pretty well with them,' Shettsline said. "It will be a good battle for the league title. The conference was balanced last year and it should be pretty strong again.'
The Continental Conference is expected to more balanced than ever and if you do not bring your best moves to the map on a given night you will be taken down. Price, who is 13 career wins away from 100, is prepared to lead the Knights back to the top of the league standings. He and Reimel also hope to be joined at Hershey by a few of their up-and-coming teammates.
"We have been working hard all summer and we are hungry,' Price said. "Right now everything is about getting ready for the first match against Pennridge. It is cool to have kids looking up to me on how to get to states. We all just need to stay focused.'
Central Bucks West
Coach: Steve Romesburg (First season).
Last Season: 2-16 overall, (1-6 SOL Continental).
Notable Losses: Gabriel Shults.
Key Returnees: SENIOR — Brian Jastrzebski (160); JUNIORS — Jason Stout (132), Riley Barth (145), Jason Douple (152).
Others to Watch: SENIOR — Eric Armitage (220), Will Harper (170); Justin O'Connor (180), Kevin Gerbrick (106).
Strengths: The Bucks believe the strength of their lineup falls with Jastrzebski and the middle weights.
Question Marks: The Bucks believe the lighter and heavier weights are a work in process with the ability to succeed if they put in the work.
Overall Outlook: Romesburg said, "As long as we stay healthy, continue to learn, and remain mentally tough, we will be competitive.'
Coach: A.J. Maida (Sixth season).
Last Season: 16-7 overall (5-4 PAC-10).
Notable Losses: Mike Baccaro (182), Paul Russo (160), Danny Damato (145).
Key Returnees: SENIORS — Eric Straup (126), Cody Rupp (132), Colin Peters (138), Joe Staley (145), Jacob Qawasmy (152), Jack Ryan (160), Devin Bradley (195), Tahar Ferradji (220), Tracey Green (285).
Others to Watch: JUNIOR — Steven Stajnrajh; SOPHOMORES — Sayar Campbell (126), Aidan Denecke (132); FRESHMEN — Bryce Reddington (113), Dylan Henry (120).
Strengths: The Warriors have strong senior leadership. The group has been together for the last three seasons and they know how to prepare for the season. The work ethic and commitment should help them separate from the pack.
Question Marks: The question remains how some younger grapplers can grasp the longer and more rigorous season of varsity wrestling. It will be up to some inexperienced wrestlers to round out the roster.
Overall Outlook: "I don't have a crystal ball but I can tell you that if we can stay healthy then we hope to put a competitive team on the mat,' Maida said. "We are striving to be a team that people think of when they think of the PAC-10. Wrestling in this league is as good as it gets in District One and it is very important to our kids that they represent Methacton Wrestling and all that it has meant to the school district.'
Coach: Robert Shettsline (20th season).
Last Season: 7-5 (5-2 SOL Continental).
Notable Losses: Joey O'Brien (132), George Shipp (195), Matt Robinson (145), Marcus Myers (152).
Key Returnees: SENIORS — Jeff Reimel (160), Alex Price (195), Chris Barr (182); JUNIORS — Richie Liberio (145).
Others to Watch: SENIOR — Max Myers (126); SOPHOMORE — Mikey O'Brien (113), Dominic Mignon (106), Ryan Gilmore (138), Sofiane Bensmail (126); FRESHMEN — Collin Shannon (132), Will Laughlin (106).
Strengths: The schedule will test them right away but the Knights believe they come into the year tested already, led by their two returning state qualifiers Reimel and Price.Question marks: In the earlier part of the season the Knights will be looking for a heavyweight to round of their roster.
Overall Outlook: "This year North Penn looks to medal at least two wrestlers at the state level,' Shettsline said. "We want to place in the top ten at Hurricane Liberty and King of the Mountain tournaments. We are hoping to win the league, sectionals, districts and top five at regionals.'
Coach: Dan Goetter (Fourth season).
Last Season: 20-7 overall (6-1 SOL Continental).
Notable Losses: Jake Franklin (160), Chris Pyott (220), Josh Stencler.
Key Returnees: SENIORS — Scott Parker (120), Ben Ross (126); JUNIOR — Joe Kracz (285), Ezra Outlaw (220), Dylan Gerhart (138); SOPHOMORE- Kyle Gentile (152), Kordell Rush (106).
Others to Watch: JUNIOR — Ethan Clemmer (132); SOPHOMORE — Stephen Blanchard (152), Andrew Reinhold (195); FRESHMAN — Matt Parker (106).
Strengths: The lightweights will remain the strength of the Rams behind two state qualifiers in Scott Parker and Ben Ross. Kordell Rush and Parker's freshman brother Matt are talented in the first weight classes.
Question Marks: The Rams know the biggest issue is health and being the healthiest for when the postseason rolls around.
Overall Outlook: The Rams have several strong underclassmen and are anchored by two state level senior standouts. They expect to repeat as league champs and make a run a district title.
Coach: Tristan Boyd (Third season).
Last Season: 4-17 overall (1-6 in SOL Continental).
Notable Losses: Ricky Young (285).
Key Returnees: SENIOR — Kolton Veit (126), Brett Hale (145); SOPHOMORE — Phillip Stolfi (170).
Others to Watch: SENIOR — Ben Kabakjian (120); SOPHOMORE — Max Darst (152); FRESHMEN — Brandon Bach (106), Jake Phaup (138).
Strengths: The Indians feel they have better leadership than in years past. They also believe their freshman class is strong and will make an immediate impact.
Question Marks: The question for the Indians is will the possible eight or more freshman and sophomore in the lineup tire out in the long season.
Overall Outlook: "I would expect there to be some growing pains early in the season,' Boyd said. "With better leadership and a core group of freshmen who have spent a lot of time preparing in the offseason I expect Souderton to be more competitive than in the last several years.'
Coach: Anthony Stagliano (Fifth season).
Last Season: 10-11 overall (4-3 SOL American).
Notable Losses: Aaron Rodriguez (138), Dan Schueren (160), CJ Virtu, Cody Franko (145).
Key Returnees: SENIORS — Pat Fennell (170), Eric An (195); JUNIORS — Alex Chiolo-Ortiz (113).
Others to Watch: SENIOR — Nick Natale (132); Phillip Isaaac (126); JUNIOR — Connor Weiss (285), Devon Memis (120); SOPHOMORE — Mike Marino (132).
Strengths: The Trojans like the size of their group, 35, and the fact the seven of them are returning starters.
Question Marks: Some of Trojans best wrestlers are at similar weights so it will be a challenge to find a spot for all of them in the lineup.
Overall Outlook: "I am optimistic about the season and the future of our program,' Stagliano said. "We are looking forward to another great year from Pat Fennell who has his sights set on breaking the all-time school record for wins of 124. Pat currently has 104.'
Follow Andrew Marcus on Twitter @amarcus515.