Wyoming Area returns six wrestlers who placed at the District 2 Class 2A Tournament last season, but just as importantly for the hopes of team success, the Warriors have expanded the number of wrestlers in the program.
“This being our second year at Wyoming Area, it takes a little bit to grow your numbers,” said Jason Prokopchak, a former Warriors wrestler who took over the program prior to the 2016-2017 season. “Last year, I got an awesome junior high staff together and our junior high numbers are up this year, as well.
“And now,f the kids who got experience at the junior high level are coming up to the high school this year.”
The Warriors had just nine varsity wrestlers last season, meaning they went into each dual knowing they would be unable to fill at least five of 14 weight classes.
Even though five of those wrestlers posted winning records and another was at .500, it was not enough to consistently overcome the damage done by forfeits. The Warriors went just 1-4 in Division 2 of the Wyoming Valley Conference and finished 7-11 overall.
The strong individuals made Wyoming Area better suited for tournament competition and the team placed eighth of 15 at the District 2 tournament.
Corey Mruk came on strong in his freshman season, pulling out a pair of one-point decisions to win the 160-pound district title. After missing time early in the season, he finished 19-8.
“He has a great work ethic,” Prokopchak said. “ … Corey was hurt in the beginning of the season so it took him a little time to get into wrestling shape and to jump levels coming from the junior high ranks to the high school ranks.”
Current seniors Justin Joseph and Damon Barhight are back after joining Mruk as district finalists while wrestling at 195 and 285 pounds.
Joseph won 23 bouts last season, including 13 by pin, while Barhight won 22.
Charlie Banashefski, at 138, and Jaryn Polit-Moran, at 170, each finished sixth at districts last year. Polit-Moran is a junior and Banashefski a sophomore.
Banashefski went 17-17 last season.
Juniors Robin Wrobleski, who was 17-10 before missing the postseason with an injury, and Tyler Martin also return.
Alex Pierce, a sophomore who won a WVC junior high title last season, could help at 145 or 152 pounds.
Prokopchak is expecting 10 wrestlers to join the varsity from last year’s junior high team.
“Year Two, we’re looking at the same exact thing we talked about in Year One,” said Prokopchak, who led the team through its first official practices Friday. “That’s going from where we’re at now, growing exponentially as the season goes on and that’s being able to peak at districts, regionals and states.
“They did really well at that last year with the district tournament and many of them did really well at regionals.”
Mruk finished tied for fifth in the Northeast Regional. Barhight was eliminated in a one-point loss and Joseph in a three-pointer.
Prokopchak said about 90 percent of the team is made up of football players so it will take a little time to assess potential weight classes and how the lineup will fall together.
The Warriors open the season Dec. 9 at the Saucon Valley Tournament.
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