Boost in numbers gives Hampton wrestling optimism despite graduation losses

Sunday, December 12, 2021 | 9:19 PM

The Hampton wrestling team is aiming to focus on quantity rather than quality.

The Talbots, under first-year coach Nick Endres, have seen growing numbers at every level and are counting on the boost in participation to offset the losses of two PIAA qualifiers.

Gone are Justin Hart, the 2021 WPIAL Class 3A champion and PIAA runner-up at 182 pounds, and heavyweight Dawson Dietz, who went 113-32 for his career with a school-record 84 pins.

Hart, a freshman at VMI, finished as the second-winningest wrestler in program history with a career mark of 136-28.

“We can’t quite fill in the shoes of a state runner-up and a state medalist heavyweight,” Endres said, “but we are sure going to try to get those that are in the room as better as we can.”

For sure, there is more in the room to work with. The Talbots attracted 23 wrestlers to tryouts after finishing last season with only 16.

Endres, 31, was promoted after three years as a Hampton assistant under Chris Hart, who stepped down in the offseason but will remain part of the Talbots staff. Endres called the increase in roster size a “nice surprise.”

“We are losing some of our top-end competitors, but we have already gained numbers across each and every level,” he said. “We have more wrestlers on the varsity team, the middle school team and the youth.”

After a couple years of forfeiting lighter weight classes in dual meets because of a lack of wrestlers, Hampton enters this season with likely only one open spot (126 pounds). The Talbots boasted some dominant upperweights last season but still went 2-3 in section (7-12 overall) and missed the WPIAL Class 3A team playoffs for first time since 2017.

The top returning wrestlers are senior Jayden Resch (20-15 last season), a 2021 WPIAL qualifier at 172, and sophomore Caleb Rihn (14-14 at 126).

Rihn spent the offseason training with the Young Gun wrestling club and competing in Freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments. He placed top five in both disciplines in the Pennsylvania USA Wrestling championships in May.

“He looks good,” Endres said of Rihn. “He’s a guy that you have to tell to take a break from wrestling. He loves working hard, and he’s definitely improved from last year.

“He does the extra stuff without being asked. That usually spells success in the sport of wrestling. I definitely see him making leaps and bounds from where he was at last year.”

After wrestling at 126 as a freshman, Rihn concentrated on adding strength in the offseason. He will wrestle at 138 or 145 this season.

“My main focus was trying to get bigger and stronger, and I think I’ve accomplished that,” Rihn said. “I thought technique-wise I was very good last season. When I was going up against some of the upperclassmen, I definitely thought to myself that if I added some more strength, it would improve my game a lot.”

Other returning wrestlers are seniors Jon Maguire (152) and Alan Wolfe (172) and sophomores Logan Poslusny (106/113), Alan Danner (138/145), Seamus McLaughlin (160) and Nate Glock (heavyweight).

Also battling to fill out weight classes are junior Alex Haas (152/160); sophomores Zach Campbell (132), Connor Shim (132), Gus Arias-Gonzalez (172/189), Braeden Ballentine (215/HWT) and Gryffin Keller (215/HWT); and freshmen Isabella McNutt (106/113) and Jackson Barton (120).

“We’ll see how it comes,” Endres said. “I’m hoping to be delightfully surprised. But my expectations right now, we have a lot of teaching to do and a lot of improving to do in the practice room first before we think about doing big things in competition.”


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