NEW LONDON, Conn.-The Coast Guard wrestling team enters the 2013/14 season with high expectations as they will return 18 members of the team who saw time in the starting line-up last year. Despite a trying 5-13 campaign last year, optimism is abundant at the Academy for the upcoming season.

Interim coach Rob McKnabb (third season) will be charged with leading the Bears during the day-to-day grind of the season and he will be assisted by fourth-year assistant Joel Webster.

Coast Guard will kick off their season on November 2nd at the Messiah Invitational and remain on the road for the following two meets competing at the Roger Williams Invitational (Nov. 16) and the Doug Parker Invitational (Nov. 23) hosted by Springfield. The Bears will kick off the dual-meet portion of their schedule on December 4th at Roger Williams before attending the New Standard Invitational, hosted by York College, on December 7th.

Coast Guard will once again be participating in the Lycoming Duals to kick off the second semester, on January 10th and 11th. Following that the Bears will compete in a quad-match with Norwich and Western New England at Johnson & Wales (Jan. 19). The New England Duals will be held the following week (Jan. 26) at Bridgewater State).

The Bears will host their first of two events on February 1st when they welcome Air Force, Army, Merchant Marine, Navy, Norwich, The Citadel, and VMI in for the All-Academy Championships. They will then take on arch-rival Merchant Marine on February 6th on the road in one of the most heated rivalries in collegiate wrestling. Next up Coast Guard will host their final home contest when they welcome Bridgewater State and WPI to the Academy on February 9th. The Bears will wrap up the regular season on February 15th when they compete with Bridgewater State and Rhode Island College at Trinity College.

Post-season play will kick off on February 23rd at the NEWA Futures Tournament to be hosted by Roger Williams. The NCAA Northeast Regional is currently schedule to be held at Cortland State on March 1st but is subject to change. The NCAA Division III Championships will conclude the season and are scheduled to take place on March 14th and 15th at a yet-to-be-determined site.

The Bears will be led by junior Nate Giorgio who is nationally ranked at 133 pounds according to a preseason poll. Giorgio is a two-time National Qualifier who earned All-American accolades as a freshman during the 2011/12 season, finishing fourth at the National Championships.

Coast Guard's captain for the second year in a row will be senior Luke Taylor who was an honorable mention in the national rankings throughout last season. Taylor qualified for the semi-finals of the Northeast Regional but unfortunately he experienced a season-ending injury which cost him a chance to advance further. He'll be looking to qualify for the National Tournament and become an All-American this year.

The Bears will also return sophomore Mike Shermot who won the 165 pound division of the Messiah Invitational last year and was an honorable mention in the national rankings throughout 2012/13. Mike was injured at the Northeast Regional which ended his season, unfortunately, but will look to qualify for the National Tournament as well this year.

Junior Mike Giorgio, who placed fourth at the Northeast Regional a season ago in the 141 pound weight class, also returns to the squad this year. Giorgio looks to improve this year into the top three at the regional and punch his ticket to the National Championships.

Other key returners for the Bears will be juniors Ben Greene, Mark Howard, Steve Kidwell, and Vaughn Gehman along with sophomore Thomas Porzillo and Marc Wagner, each of whom saw action in 18 or more matches a season ago.

The team will welcome a number of exciting freshmen into the fold.  Highlighting the newcomers will be Taylor Salzburg (two-time Washington State Place Winner), Cory Geyer (two-time New Mexico State Place Winner), Matt McAllister (Connecticut State Open Wrestling Champion), Earl Roberts (two-time High School All-American), and Phillip Azzari (New Jersey State Qualifier).

The future for Coast Guard wrestling could start this year and interim coach Rob McKnabb says that, "The new members of the team, along with experienced shipmates are looking good and the future looks great for the Coast Guard Bears Wrestling Team."

To view the 2013-14 Wrestling Online Guide CLICK HERE