In order to improve following a frustrating 5-16 record in 2011-2012, the Bears will lean on co-captains senior Colin Schuster and junior Luke Taylor and look for sophomore All-America Nate Giorgio to back up what was a fantastic freshman season. Coast Guard is also looking for an immediate impact from several freshmen at different weight classes to turn in strong rookie campaigns.
Taylor and Schuster will both be moving up in weight classes this season. Taylor, who was the New England runner-up at 165 pounds last year, will look to find success at 174 pounds. He was 20-10 last season and is listed on the honorable mention national list at 165 by d3wrestle.com in its preseason rankings. Schuster, who posted a record of 16-10 a year ago at 157 pounds, makes the move to the 165 pound division.
Taylor will receive competition from promising freshmen Marc Wagner, Dean Gilbert and sophomore Nolan Salyer, who also plays linebacker for the Bears football team.
Freshman Mike Shermot will be the top competitor for Schuster at 165 pounds.
Giorgio, who earned an All-American distinction after finishing fourth at the NCAA Championships and was named D3wrestling.com Freshman of the Year last season, looks to build on his outstanding rookie campaign and returns to compete in the 125 pound weight class. He is ranked second in both the NWCA preseason coach's rankings and the d3wrestle.com preseason rankings at 125. He was 33-8 last season.
Freshmen Tom Porzillo and James Hegge are both competing to be the top performer at the 133 pound division while sophomore Mike Giorgio, who won 19 matches last season, drops from the 149 pound class last season and looks to be a strong contender at the 141 pound division this year.
The Bears will have competition at 149 pounds as Sal Giampapa, freshman Holden Takahashi, and senior Fred Green, who is looking to bounce back after a shoulder injury plagued his season last year, will each challenge to be the top performer in the division.
Sophomores Dan Teti and Steve Kidwell will compete for time at the 157 pound class.
Junior Virgil Moreno will jump up one class from 174 pounds to 184 pounds while freshman Jake Balchikonis will be his top competition for time in the class.
Sophomores Joel Wyman and Mark Howard will trade weight classes from last year. Wyman, who also doubles as a defensive lineman for the football team, will drop down to the 197 pound class while Howard will take his spot in the heavyweight division. Howard will be challenged by another member of the football team, freshman Kevin Painten, for the top slot in heavyweight.
"I am excited about some of our young freshman," said head coach Steve Eldridge, a staple of the Academy wrestling program as he enters his 47th season. "They are somewhat unproven, but in my mind will certainly be a big factor in our season."
The Bears open the season on Nov. 3rd at the Messiah Invitational.