The roster for the Chambersburg wrestling team is not big — only 22 names are listed.
But everything else about the program could turn out to be really big for the 2017-18 season.
The Trojans are, as usual, taking part in some very tough tournaments and face a strong schedule. They are also hosting the third Trojan Wars Tournament, which is bigger and much better than before.
Chambersburg returns a strong nucleus of wrestlers, and adds a very talented group of freshmen. Coach Matt Mentzer hopes it all adds up to a big season.
“I’m very excited about this year,” Mentzer said. “We have a whole bunch of kids with very high expectations for themselves. If you have that, the team expectations will take care of themselves.”
The Trojans open the season at home on Saturday, hosting the Chambersburg Duals Tournament. The field includes Big Spring, Gettysburg, Conestoga Valley, Elizabethtown, Greencastle-Antrim and Harrisburg, and will have rounds at 11 a.m., and 1 and 3 p.m.
The Trojan Wars event is Dec. 29-30 and is up to 39 teams, with the quality of wrestling sure to go way up.
Chambersburg will also wrestle its home duals — Cumberland Valley on Dec. 14, Mifflin County on Dec. 19, New Oxford on Jan. 3 and Carlisle on Jan. 11– in the Auxiliary Gym instead of the CASHS Field House.
“It’s a smaller environment there and we can spotlight the mat,” Mentzer said. “The kids are in favor of it and hopefully it’ll be a little different feeling.”
The Trojans expect to be very solid in the middle weights, from 126 through 160, with returning wrestlers in five of those weights, plus a highly-touted freshman.
Cole Grove (jr., 22-14 last year) is at 126, followed by juniors Seth Runshaw (132, 23-14) and Spencer Runshaw (138, 20-11). Freshman Tate Nichter will hold down 145, followed by two PIAA State qualifiers — senior Drake Brenize at 152 and sophomore Luke Nichter at 160.
Brenize was 31-12, and placed third in Section I and fourth in the District 3 Tournament. Luke Nichter was 32-11, earned a section title, was a district runner-up and brought home a sixth-place medal from states.
Mentzer said, “Grove and the Runshaws are all in about the same weight range. I went to Spencer in July and asked if he’d stay up and he was fine with it. From 126 to 160, we have good veterans, plus Carson Mello (so.) is pretty good, and he’ll get worked into a lot of dual meets.”
In addition to Tate Nichter, who has a decorated background in youth wrestling, the lineup should contain four other freshmen — Tyler Smith (106), Will Sharrar (113), Anthony Colangelo (120) and Malachi Spoonhour (285).
Also earning starting spots are returners Zae Kirk (jr., 171) and Guy Lozius (jr., 182) and newcomers Jose Chavarria (jr., 195) and Wyatt Hull (so., 220).
“Sharrar probably improved more this summer than any kid I’ve ever coached,” Mentzer said. “All of those freshmen could be pretty good.”
Mentzer said that he took a team of 20 wrestlers (17 from Chambersburg) to the AAU Scholastic National Duals at Disney World in June that should help the team for this season. In 10 duals, the team was 7-3 and placed eighth in a division of 50-plus teams.
“It was a great experience and we got those young kids a lot of matches,” Mentzer said. “It gave us a good look at them and how they handled themselves, which is a huge advantage.”
As for the Mid Penn Commonwealth Division, Mentzer expects his team to be in the running for first place, but will have to get by Central Dauphin and Cumberland Valley, plus Mifflin County and Carlisle could be tough.
“CV and CD are who they are, and they’ll be favored until somebody beats them,” he said.
But he thinks his team could be good enough to make that at least a possibility.