Weekly Feature



2017-12-07 / Sports

Lancers wrestling sees rise in participation

by TAYLOR NIGRELLI Reporter


Matt Ash of St. Mary’s grapples with his opponent while wrestling in the 126-pound weight class at Southtowns Duals at St. Francis High School Saturday. 
Photo by John Normile. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Matt Ash of St. Mary’s grapples with his opponent while wrestling in the 126-pound weight class at Southtowns Duals at St. Francis High School Saturday. Photo by John Normile. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com St. Mary’s wrestling has seen an uptick in participation the past few seasons. The team has gone from four members to 10 to 18 this season. Nine of the athletes are returning from last year’s team. Team captains Jake Fay and Joe Flading have helped to grow the program.

“I think the momentum has carried over from the past couple years,” St. Mary’s coach Zach Weiss said. “We’re starting to turn the corner. We have some good leadership. Our captains Jake Fay and Jake Flading carry the program name very well. The guys who are returning are spreading the word around about the program.”

The boost in numbers has had a major effect on the team’s ability to compete. The Lancers will be able to fill out lineups and not have to deal with a bunch of forfeits. They had their first chance to do so last weekend at the Southtowns Duals at St. Francis High School.

“It makes us able to compete,” Weiss said. “We don’t have to give up a bunch of forfeits. We’re close to having a full lineup. We’re really starting to get out there and see what we can do. We were at the Southtowns Duals at St. Francis last weekend and we matched up against some of the better teams in the area. We won one match and the rest were handled by the kids from the bigger teams. But it’s all about building for the future. We’re seeing what we can do. We now have enough kids to go match up with teams and see where things fall and go from there.”

Flading and Fay are among the team’s top athletes. Fay is a senior captain who will wrestle at the 160-pound weight class. Flading is at 220 now, but will hope to make it to 195 at some point this season. Ethan Craddock (132) and Josh Weiss (138) should also have successful seasons on the mat.

“We just want these guys to keep progressing in the right direction,” Weiss said. “For Jake and Joe, we want them to finish out their career on a positive note. We want them to see some success in the program they helped build. For Ethan and Josh, we’d like to see them take the next step. They are major leaders on the team. We want them to continue improving and keep the momentum going.”

The team has just one freshman. The program is looking to get more of a foothold among those just entering high school.

“Most of the team is sophomores,” Weiss said. “One of the biggest hurdles is getting kids to enter high school and jump on board. After kids don’t make JV basketball, we have a lot of them catch on with us. We want to get kids to start early and stick with it.”

Much of the team is inexperienced, but there’s no better way to learn than to get thrown into competition. That will be the plan for the Lancers this year.

“We’re always wrestling as a varsity team,” Weiss said. “Whether you are ready to be a varsity wrestler or not, you’re competing and practicing with us because the end goal is to be one. You get thrown to the wolves right away. You’re going to compete against some really good schools. But after a while, you start to learn what to do when and figure out what works for you. It starts to click about halfway through the season and then we go from there.”

The goal isn’t necessarily to be better than St. Francis, Canisius or St. Joe’s just yet. The goal is for each individual to be at their best by the end of the season.

“The overall goal is to keep the momentum going,” Weiss said. “We want to show up and work hard. We’ve been doing well overall, but the goal is what is best for each individual. We want everyone to be their best overall self at the end of the season. Come All-Catholic Championships of Feb. 4, we want everyone to be ready to go as their best form of the season.”

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