By Nelson Coffin
Coach Gary Burkhardt's heavyweights figure to carry the load for Parkville this winter.
Starting with 160-pounder Steve Moore, the Knights have an imposing bottom of the lineup.
Moore, a stalwart on the JV as a freshman, has earned a starting nod on varsity two years later.
His 171-pound teammate, Yousef Mohammad, was an 160- pounder last season who has blossomed this year. The senior is off to a 7-0 start, including a Parkville tournament title.
"Yousef has all the strength in the world," Burkhardt said. "But he doesn't just go out and try to muscle people. He's too smart for that."
Determined junior David Riley holds down the 189-pound slot after finishing third in the county last season.
Senior Nick Von Canon (215) is another Parkville tourney champion who is unbeaten.
"Everybody in the (wrestling) room looks up to him," Burkhardt said. "He never showboats. He sets a good example for the other guys."
Heavyweight Josh Jording is back for more after a superb sophomore campaign in which he was second in the region and fourth in the county.
"He's the most experienced wrestler we have," Burkhardt said. "That's why our heavyweights are the heart of our team."
Although the Knights don't have a 103-pounder, junior Jean Bernard Micheo (112) gives them a veteran at the top of the lineup with classmate Dwight Gillis (119).
Freshman Kenny McIntyre (125) has a pair of forfeit victories to savor and is a part of a trio of rookies with Luke Polasik (130) and Andrew Hollern (135).
Douglass High transfer Ricardo Wright (140) and Corey Thomas (152) are the only sophomore starters for Parkville.
They're sandwiched around senior Russell Johnson (152), a Parkville Junior League product who will join the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation.
"Once these kids see how the high school game works, I think we'll be pretty good," Burkhardt said. "Finishing above .500 is a realistic goal."
By the time Loch Raven resumes regular dual-meet competition against county rival Eastern Tech on Jan. 9, even the least experienced Raider wrestlers will be battle tested.
That's because coach Anthony Menegatti's grapplers are slated to compete in two dual-meet tournaments, a tri-meet and a dual meet before meeting the Mavs.
The fact that each starter could have as many as 20 bouts under his belt by early January is perfectly fine with Menegatti, whose team has a dearth of experience. The exceptions are Jordan Heller, Matt and Andrew Rutherford and Nick Hamel.
Heller, Hamel and Andrew Rutherford all rallied for victories in a 30-27 setback to Pikesville last week.
"They all won in the last minute," Menegatti said.
The 189- pound Matt Rutherford and heavyweight Pat Smith are the club's only seniors. Andrew Rutherford (152), Hamel (140), Spencer Kent (135) and Heller (160) are the junior leaders. Classmates Ryan Haacke (112), Mike Boothe (119) and Joe Wolfkil (145) are learning on the job.
That also goes for sophomores Tim Hamel (125) and Travis Rodgers (171) and freshman Connor Smith (103).
Andrew Dunphy (152), who could jump to 160 if needed, adds depth to the middle of the lineup.
"The only way to gain experience is to go out there," Menegatti said. "And we'll be doing plenty of that."
E-mail Nelson Coffin at email@example.com