Belle Vernon Area’s wrestlers missed the WPIAL playoffs last year for the first time under coach under Mel Gray.
With 10 returning starters, Gray isn’t looking for a repeat this season.
“We have high expectations despite having some question marks,” Gray said. “We have the potential, but it will depend on us reaching what we are capable of.”
The Leopards already have12 positions filled, with seven of them being occupied by wrestlers who made the WPIAL’s a year ago.
They include senior Jeremy Weslager (119), sophomore Corey Rubin (112), junior Brett Perry (130), senior Jacob Boyer (145), senior Donnie Tasser (152) junior P.J. Tasser (171) and senior Jesse Gauden (heavyweight).
Other starters who have wrapped up spots are sophomore Dante Altamyer (103), junior Travis Scott (135), sophomore Brennan Perry (140) and sophomore Brian Delenabos (160),
Freshman Tyler Scott and sophomore Doug Latanish are battling at 125 pounds, senior Zach Jupin, sophomore Dave Sickler and sophomore Ron Steffman are vying for the 189-pound spot, and senior Nick Lee and junior Chris Cize are looking for the 215-pound job.
“We have lots of seniors who are leading the way by example,” Gray said. “The team has a good attitude and we don’t seem to have any bad apples. This team can accomplish a lot despite being in the toughest section in the WPIAL.”
The Leopards are in Class AAA Section 2 with Connellsville, Albert Gallatin, Laurel Highlands, Uniontown, McKeesport and Greensburg Salem.
They open the season Friday at Greensburg Salem before hosting McKeesport Wednesday.