High School Sports

Bald Eagle Area wrestling preview

Coach: Steve Millward, fifth season

Assistants: Jade Thompson, Ron Millward, Gary Heverly, Joe Preslovich, Doug Taylor

Last season: 10-6, 5-1 Big 7, 2-2 Mountain League

Key losses: Matt Dillon (28-11, Regional Qualifier); James Grieb (27-12, Regional Qualifier)

Returning letterwinners: Tyler Baney (Sr., 152-160, 13-18), Travis Giedroc (Sr., 113-120. 24-12, Regional Qualifier), Ryan Hicks (Sr., 285, 1-11), Nate Sharkey (Sr., 220-285, 26-8, PIAA Qualifier), Jake Taylor (Sr., 182, 38-2, PIAA 3rd Place), Aaron Varner (Sr., 195-220, 29-13, PIAA 6th Place), Ben Verbitskey (Sr., 170-182, 6-2), David Gawryla (Jr., 195-285, 3-0), Jacob Noll (Jr., 120-126, 5-22), Cody Stine (Jr., 126-132, 3-18), Clint McCaslin (So., 132-138, 7-12)

Other wrestlers: Joe Powers (Sr., 138-145), Cole Surovec (Jr., 132-138), Dennis Shaw (Jr., 145-152), Brandon Veneziano (Jr., 145-152), Mitchell Taylor (So., 160-170), Titus Tice (So., 132-145), Cobey Bainey (106-113), Mike Kachik (106-113), Josh Fye (Fr., 285)

The skinny: This could be Millward’s best team since taking over the program in 2008. The lineup boasts three state qualifiers from 182 to 220 in Jake Taylor, Varner and Sharkey. The presence of Verbtiskey, Gawryla and Mitchell Taylor will allow Millward to juggle his upperweights to create advantageous matchups. ... Giedroc is looking for his first PIAA trip after an overtime loss in the consolation finals of last season’s Northwest Regional tournament. ... Powers went 13-15 as a sophomore at State College, but he didn’t wrestle after switching schools last year. His return to wrestling enhances the middle of the lineup. ... Taylor (Cornell) and Varner (Pitt-Johnstown) will wrestle in college.

Coach Millward says: “The atmosphere has been pretty light right now. It’s early. We know the atmosphere from years past and it gets long and arduous in the middle of the winter. We’re just enjoying the beginning part of the season and getting through bumps and bruises they didn’t have a month ago. There’s motivation there. I think they see what’s at the end. The hard work doesn’t really bother them.”