DuBOIS — Despite losing a handful of starters to graduation, including Class 3A state runner-up Kolby Ho, veteran DuBois wrestling coach Luke Bundy entered preseason workouts with high expectations.
While Bundy never lowers those expectations, they could ultimately be tempered team-wise by the fact DuBois has suffered a few more key losses (including a District 9 finalist) for various reasons other than last year’s senior class — which featured Ho (35-5), Matt Starr (22-15), Izsak Kerner (21-16) and Austin Fairman (9-13) — for the upcoming season.
“Not sound like broken record, but year in and year out, our goals stay same,” said Bundy. “And, the guys know that coming in. We expect to win when we step on the mat no matter who we’re wrestling. So, that means winning district titles, winning team titles. That’s what we’re here do, and the goals we have set.
“We will have a few more holes this year than we expected, but we definitely have the ability through the strong part of our lineup to pick up bonus points and possibly overcome those holes on a nightly basis. Once the two pounds kicks in, hopefully we’ll be able to fill some of those holes and be better as a team for the stretch run. That’s what we’re focusing on.”
While those extra losses could keep the Beavers from putting out a full lineup, that “strong point” of the lineup Bundy referenced features four returning wrestlers who won 25 or more matches a year ago.
Three of those wrestlers — Ed Scott (33-4), Dalton Woodrow (30-8) and Trenton Donahue (25-3) — have been to the Class 3A state tournament during their careers. Throw in sophomore Chandler Ho (27-6) and freshman Braxton Adams, and the Beavers look to have a formidable bottom-half of the lineup.
Bundy said Woodrow (senior) and Scott (junior), who were named team captains, are the undisputed leaders of the team.
Woodrow is a three-time District 9 champion and a two-time state qualifier having won a regional crown as a freshman. The senior, who is just five shy of 100 wins shy (95-24) fell short of reaching states a year ago.
As for Scott, he is a two-time D-9 and Northwest Regional champ. He placed third at states as a freshman, but came up short of landing on the podium a year ago. He enters his junior season with a 72-6 career record.
Donahue returns to the team after missing the end of last season. Donahue joined Woodrow and Scott as a state qualifier two years ago as a freshman, capturing D-9 and regional titles on his way to posting a 36-4 mark.
Ho put together a strong freshman campaign a year ago, winning a D-9 title before missing regionals due to an injury.
“We have some guys who have been around the block and had postseason success,” said Bundy. “But, if you look at that group, they’re all guys who ideally didn’t have their seasons end the way they wanted them to last year.
“And, that’s made them a little hungrier and they’re all working hard in the room. They have their sights set on medals in Hershey, and it’s very attainable. I think they all are going to have great seasons because of the slight setbacks they have had, and I look for them to finish strong this year and get the most out of this season.”
That group is joined by returning starters in senior Eric Schneider (15-19), junior Alex O’Harrah (19-13) and sophomore Garrett Starr (15-16). O’Harrah is a two-time regional qualifier, while Schneider made it to Altoona for regionals last year.
As for the DuBois lineup, sophomores Kam Stevenson and Kaleb Beisch, a transfer from Moshannon Valley, are battling for time at 106. Bundy has no one slotted at 113 to open the season.
From there, Adams, Ho, Donahue and Scott will be at 120, 126, 132 and 138, respectively. Sophomore Ryan Gildersleeve will give the Beavers some flexibility in that stretch as a 132-pounder.
Junior Gauge Gulvas (4-9) looks to be the starter at 145, with junior Luke Krause backing him up. Woodrow follows at 152, with Starr at 160. Sophomore Jake Krause will add depth behind Woodrow at 152.
Senior Evan Way (0-9) and freshman Ryan White are vying for time at 170, with Schneider slotting in the lineup at 182. Bundy has no one at 195 to open the season, so Schneider could bounce between 182 and 195 if needed.
Senior John Pendleton is back out for the team after not wrestling last season and will be the starter at 220, with O’Harrah at heavyweight. Sophomore Warren Myers also is at 220.
“Down the stretch last year Alex and Eric did a great job for us, and they won a lot of bouts for us,” said Bundy. “This year we’re going to lean on those guys to not only win bouts, but to score bonus points and take that next step. Both are very capable, and we expect that out of them being upperclassmen now.
“Our ninth and 10th graders have experience too, and I’ll even put Gauge Gulvas in that category being a junior who found himself in a tough situation last year and didn’t get into the lineup a lot. He (Gulvas) is going to be a good wrestler for us. The same goes for Garrett Starr, who last year had to wrestle in the middle weights as a freshman, which is tough.”
Bundy will again be assisted by Ed Scott, Brian O’Korn and Ben Fordoski.
DuBois opens its season this weekend at the Eastern Area Wrestling Invitational at Gateway High School.
Seniors: Dalton Woodrow, John Pendleton, Eric Schneider, Evan Way. Juniors: Trenton Donahue, Gauge Gulvas, Luke Krause, Alex O’Harrah, Ed Scott. Sophomores: Kaleb Beisch, Ryan Gildersleeve, Chandler Ho, Jake Krause, Warren Myers, Garrett Starr, Kam Stevenson. Freshmen: Braxton Adams, Ryan White.