By: Charlie Hayes
The 23rd nationally ranked William Penn wrestling team will see a youth movement take over as the squad has only one of it’s four national qualifiers from last year returning, two time All-American Scottie Bonds. Not only did the Statesmen lose its national qualifiers, but three other wrestlers who were in the everyday starting lineup have also left the squad.
Head coach Eric Reed knows that this team has a lot of potential despite the inexperience of the freshman because of the leadership of Scottie Bonds. Reed knows that Bonds is a good example of success for the freshman as well.
“Obviously having a two time All American helps our younger guys see what they need to do to get to that level.” Reed said.
Bonds is a junior and a two time All-American who is poised to make a run at a national championship this season. The past two seasons Bond’s has placed third at the National tournament and this could be his break through season.
Sophomore Bryce Castagna knows just how much Bonds means to the team and said he is always willing to work with others.
“Since I’ve been here he has always been a good leader, everyone looks up to him and wants to work with him and he accepts the responsibility of being a leader really well,” said Castagna.
While the experience of Bonds will help this team mature, Reed knows that the team is still going to grow and change tremendously as the season carries on. However, just because the team is young does not change Reed’s expectations tremendously. “Getting four or five national qualifiers is a definite and realistic goal for us.” Reed said.
While Reed is excited about the group of freshman that he has and with how they have been competing, he knows he must help them get used to the transition high school wrestling to college wresting. To make this transition easier Reed has done things different than in the years past. In the first two tournaments the team competed in there was a freshman division, which was not the case in the years past. Reed said this was extremely important to help the freshman ease into college wrestling, because it is such a process.
“For freshman I tell them at least until Christmas time is just figuring out what things you can and can’t do at the college level,” Reed said.
Just a year removed from having to make that transition Castagna echoed what his head coach had to say. “It’s tough for young guys at first, the intensity is so much greater, and it is always a struggle to get the starting spot,” Castagna said.
Four Freshman in particular have already caught the attention of many as they received their national and regional rankings. Tyler Foubert was the lone freshman to receive national attention as he is ranked sixteenth in his weight class of 184 pounds. Freshman John Altieri, Tommy Rios, and Matthew Cuthbert also received recognition as they all were in the top five of the regional rankings for William Penn. Scottie Bonds was ranked fifth nationally while senior Bryan Pittman just missed the top ten landing at number eleven in the nation.
A key to any team’s success is getting everyone to buy in to program and in to one another, and according to Reed this is exactly what has happened.
“We have a very close knit group of guys now, that was not always the case over the last three or four years, we have a group of guys that’s always together, their willing to work together and for each other,” Reed said.