WEST GROVE >> With a lot of familiar faces on West Chester Rustin, outsiders are expecting a successful season from the Golden Knights.
From within, Rustin has the same expectations as every season.
At the Bob Henry Classic at Avon Grove High on Saturday, three Golden Knights went undefeated in the round-robin style tournament to affirm their goals are high this season.
“Our expectations are always high,” said Rustin coach Brad Harkins. “The kids know nothing is given to you in this sport. Just because you did something in the past doesn’t give you anything this year. We’re working hard to win another league title.”
Rustin is coming off a Ches-Mont American Division championship and have a large core of last year’s team returning. Saturday, Brett Kaliner (4-0 at 113 pounds), Tyler Labus (5-0 at 152) and Shane Boyer (4-0 at 170) went undefeated.
Kaliner is the lone returning regional qualifier from last winter, and his lightweight-mate, Jon Reardon (120) was one of four Golden Knights with one loss. Andrew Lamberjack (182), Costas Hatzipavlides (195) and Isaiah Spriggs (285) were the others.
“I think as the day progressed we wrestled better” Harkins said. “Like anything else, we’re never really satisfied. We have some things to adjust and try to improve.”
The host Red Devils had one undefeated wrestler in heavyweight, Vince Walls, who beat Spriggs, 8-4. Peyton MacNeill (195) and Ryan Hoffman (220) went 4-1, while Kevin Edwards (120) went 3-1. Both Edwards and Reardon lost to the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament, Hamburg’s returning state qualifier, Sean Stanish.
Octorara’s Scott Burridge (152) led the Braves, going 3-2. Noah Hoopes (145) went 2-3 for Octorara, as did Rico Camacho (126), who dropped a match to impressive Rustin freshman, Ethan Harkins, 13-8.
For Great Valley, it’s about growing and building under first-year coach Mike Semar. The former Conestoga coach, Semar is working on establishing depth with Shane Ruhnke and Dean Lang graduated.
Junior Nate Tang (160) was the sole 5-0 grappler for the Patriots.
“Nate cut weight to get to 160 and you could see he was bigger and stronger than a lot of kids he wrestled,” Semar said. “He was very aggressive and had three pins, and the other kids on the team get better when they get to wrestle him.”
Nick Chawaga (152) and freshman Luke Wilson (113) went 4-1 for Great Valley, and Marcus Johnson (220) finished 3-2.
“I was excited all our kids got tested,” Semar said. “Our goal was to get 15 pins and we got 21, so I was happy with that total. Our kids wrestled aggressively, and even when they were out-matched, they didn’t back off. It was a great opportunity to see the things we need to get better at.”