PHOENIXVILLE - The Phoenixville wrestling team is taking positive strides under second-year head coach Joe Youngblood.
For the 2012-13 season, the Phantoms will start the year with 38 wrestlers, which is way up from last year’s 17-man contingent. That increase in numbers should enhance the ability for Phoenixville to field a full lineup of 14 weight classes, and it will also heighten competition for workouts in the practice room all week throughout the long winter season.
Seniors Jordan Valenteen (182 pounds) and Ed McCarthy (113) have the most experience among the Phantom grapplers, and both have been District 1 qualifiers during the postseason touranments. Valenteen closed with a 19-8 record a year ago that included eight pins and five technical falls.
Sophomore Trey Romance (138) is coming off a 14-victory freshman campaign, which provided great experience in the middleweights, and he also put a lot of work in during the offseason, according to Youngblood. Another sophomore, Garrett Serwatka, had an outstanding freshman year at 24-12. Serwatka will line up at either 113 or 106 pounds this year.
“We are still young,” said Youngblood. “We don’t have a huge senior class and two of our seniors are first-year guys. But they all have had some mat time.”
There are seven seniors among the 38-man roster so Youngblood will still be counting on numerous youngsters to help produce.
“We are excited about our prospects,” said Youngblood. “But it will still take a lot of hard work.”
The Phantoms graduated Southeastern Regional qualifier Brendan Bonner (145), who also captured a second-place silver medal in the sectional tourney last winter.
Junior Paul Hossler has bulked up in strength through weightlifting and is coming off an excellent football season as a two-way lineman. He will go at 220 pounds. Sophomore Damien Davido (7-10) will be at 132. Sophomore Tom Hammaker is expected to be at 126, and junior D.J. Brock is penciled in at 138.
Two freshmen figure high in the mix with Mark Cermanski (132/126) and Max Shepard (106).
“We shouldn’t have any forfeits,” said Youngblood. “We should have a full lineup so we are looking forward to the season. We are a little thin up top, but we have three guys at 106 so there is unexpected depth there.
“We’re moving forward. We made great strides in the offseason. We have gone from 17 guys to 38 so that is a sign that we are moving in the right direction in getting guys out and getting better. It is a slow process. We have to take one day at a time. It is a tough league so we have to work constantly for us just to stay where we are at and make strides.”
Phoenixville will have a special 50th anniversary night marking the history of the program on Thursday, Dec. 20, with a Pioneer Athletic Conference meet against Route 29 rival Perkiomen Valley. Former coaches and wrestlers will be on hand to help mark the golden anniversary of the mat program.
“We upped our schedule that should help push us to get ready for the postseason,” said Youngblood.
The Phantoms will open their schedule at the Saucon Valley Tournament in District 11. They will also vie at the Penn Manor Tournament, a 24-team field, in Millersville.
Phoenixville will host its own tournament on Jan. 5, 2013, and will follow thatup with the Garnet Valley Duals on Jan. 12 and the Jersey Shore Duals on Jan. 19.
“We will also be in the heart of our PAC-10 schedule at that time so in January and February we will see what we are made of,” said Youngblood. “That will prove the difference. Every match will be a dogfight.”