The Avon Grove High School wrestling team will open its 2008-09 campaign this Saturday when it travels to Lancaster to compete in the Lancaster Catholic Duals.Avon Grove is coming off a season in which it went 17-13 overall and finished third in the competitive Ches-Mont League National Division with a 3-3 mark.
Although last year wasn't one of the Red Devils' best seasons in the last decade, it was indeed another successful winter for a program that has been a model of consistency.
Avon Grove has now put together 10 winning seasons in the last 11 years, a streak not many other Ches-Mont schools can match on the mat.
"Typically I don't think a lot of people usually expect much out of us going into each season," said Avon Grove head coach Frank McCue, "but we expect a lot out of ourselves."
Keeping its streak intact this season could prove to be a challenge for Avon Grove as they return just four starters out of 14 after suffering some big losses to graduation.
The Red Devils graduated five seniors who were all district qualifiers a year ago: Rob Massi, Joey Wendle, Mike Chrzanowski, John Tipton and Mike Zebrowski. Those five combined to account for approximately 150 victories last season.
"We graduated 13 seniors," said McCue. "This year we have a lot of first-time varsity guys. We are very young as far as experience at the varsity level, but this is what we have. There are no excuses. It's our team, and we're going to practice hard and go out there expecting to do the very best we can."
Avon Grove is led this season by returning sectional final-ist Brian Henriksen. The senior, who will wrestle at either 160 or 171 pounds this winter, posted 24 wins a year ago.
Other key wrestlers for the Devils are expected to be junior Ben Gurley (130), senior Jesse Wolfe (145) and sophomore John Inzaina (130/135).
"Basically we are a bunch of unknowns right now," said McCue. "Hopefully by the end of the season some of us, or all of us, will become known. We're going to work hard and try and make that happen."