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Wrestling: Palisades focuses on progression


For the Palisades Pirates wrestling program, it is about a steady progression for a young team discovering its identity.

“We’re trying to improve in some way every day,” said second-year head coach Nick LaFevre. “We have had a disappointing start to our season, but we were in every match. We’ll have the two-pound allowance and that will allow us to have more guys in the lineup instead of the forfeits.

“We didn’t have a 106-, 113-, and a 120-pounder at the top of our lineup last year. This year, things will be different.”

Heading into the holiday break, the Pirates had a 1-4 match record, their latest defeat a 59-15 decision to Colonial League favorite Notre Dame in which they had six forfeits.

LaFevre is optimistic the second half of the season will be a productive one for the Pirates with 106-pounder Nate Armstrong and 132-pounder Max Christiano back in the lineup.

“I see us having more of a solid lineup for the tournaments coming up,” added LaFevre. “We have to figure out what we are going to do at 126 (pounds). We have a young team without any seniors.

“We are happy with the progress we have made since our first tournament.”

The Pirates began the season at the prestigious Top Hat Tournament in Williamsport where they placed 14th overall from a 22-team field.

Freshman 120-pounder Ashton Campbell (8-2 this season) was third; junior 138-pounder Jon DeNato (7-3) was seventh; junior 145-pounder Mason Smeland (9-3) was sixth; junior 160-pounder Ben Haubert (8-3) was fourth; and junior 195-pounder Gavin Kreschollek was seventh overall in the tournament.

Campbell, who was a junior high district champion last year, has been a pleasant surprise, and a seasoned junior core that will anchor the team throughout the season.

“Ashton Campbell is a funky, special athlete,” noted LaFevre. “He has an unorthodox style, and he is very determined. He has a great demeanor and is as tough as they come. He’s going to learn and progress.

“We have a strong junior class that has experience, and they all have stepped up to help our younger wrestlers along. We lost two unbelievable leaders in Nate Haubert and Adam Marsh from last year’s team.

“These juniors all should do well individually this season.”

The Pirates will be back in action at the highly competitive Tony Iasiello Christmas City Tournament at Bethlehem Catholic in late December as well as the Whitehall Duals in early January.

They also will be tested at the Coal Cracker Tournament in late January.

“We have been at the Christmas City Tournament for the past three years and it always it a great competition for us,” said LaFevre. “We’re looking to find good competition because some tournaments give you a false sense of accomplishment.

“We want to wrestle against the bigger schools, and it is important to our program to help it become better.”