Despite shorthanded roster, Plum wrestlers aim for improvement
Friday, December 27, 2019 | 6:03 PM
Coming off a 2-5 season in 2018-19 when the team had one senior and just four juniors, Plum’s wrestling team was looking for improvement.
The Mustangs weren’t just looking for a better record with new, yet familiar coach Mike Supak; they were looking for individual improvement day-by-day that comes with more experience for the younger guys on the team, and more dedicated work away from matches.
So far, Supak said the program is seeing that, despite a 1-1 start, and two middle-of-the-pack finishes in tournaments.
Plum has had to forfeit certain weight classes and drop points as a team with just 11 student-athletes who have competed in a match so far. There are 14 weight classes in a high-school match.
“We have 11 wrestlers at only like nine weight classes so we’re giving up a lot of points as a team but, individually, we’re improving overall,” Supak said. “We’re excited about that, and we’re trying to get more improvement from the program as a whole.”
This is Supak’s first year back at the varsity level after resigning the position for personal reasons after the 2015 season. He had helped with the junior high program, however, so he wasn’t too far from the team.
A goal of his — and a crowded junior-high team helps — is to increase numbers on the varsity team and in the high school, as the program tries to rebuild a culture it had not too long ago.
Part of that, he said, is having some success at the varsity level now, which he thinks is happening.
Plum placed 14th at the Eastern Area Invitational in early December at Gateway High School. Sophomore Vince Citrano won the title at 113 pounds, among other individual successes.
The Mustangs then defeated Central Catholic in a section tilt 36-30 on Dec. 11. That match included Plum forfeiting four weight classes: 132, 138, 145 and 195 pounds. There was no match at 106, 113 and 220 pounds in that contest. The Mustangs won all but one individual match otherwise.
They then placed eighth at Armstrong’s Winter Classic. Again, Citrano won the title at 113 pounds, while his brother, senior Jarrod Citrano, placed third at 160 pounds. Andrew Claassen placed fifth at 152 pounds.
In the only other match they’ve had, the Mustangs fell 66-18 to Franklin Regional. Again, the Mustangs forfeited four weight classes. Take away those four, and the score is much closer.
Plum was scheduled to wrestle at the Steve DeAugustino Holiday Classic last weekend, and will have three consecutive section matches before the Allegheny County championships Jan. 17-18.
“We’re in a tough section, so giving up any points is tough,” Supak said. “We still have to wrestle Norwin, Kiski and Penn-Trafford, so we’re trying to make improvements individually day-to-day, night-to-night and match-to-match so we’re ready for the end of the year.”
Suapk said he’s already seen some of that improvement.
“The guys are putting in the work. There’s a lot more energy in the room, and a lot more goal-setting and work towards those goals,” Supak said. “(The Holiday Classic at West Mifflin) is a good mix of a bunch of teams. We could see a large array of different wrestlers, and it’s a good chance to see what guys need to work on and what works.”
Leading the way into the 2020 part of the schedule will be Vince Citrano, who is the Mustangs’ only unbeaten at 6-0. His brother Jarrod is 9-5, while freshman Andrew Claassen and sophomore Paul McClintock both have six wins. After taking last season off, senior Cole Yocca, who was 34-21 in his first two seasons, is 3-3.
Those guys, as well as the others and Supak, are looking to continue to rebuild the culture, which, as mentioned, was solid not too long ago.
“Those younger guys will see the success the guys at the top level are having and want to come up and have that same success and improve,” Supak said. “We talk to the guys a lot about what the guys from before did to improve and have success, and some of those guys are back helping out coaching too so that helps. We’re going to try and continue improving.”
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