Despite shorthanded roster, Riverview wrestlers getting up to speed
Saturday, January 16, 2021 | 9:01 AM
Riverview has fewer wrestlers on its roster than normal, but coach Joe Murphy said excitement is high for those ready to test their mettle on the mat.
The Raiders started their practices on time (Nov. 20) and maintained their schedule through Gov. Tom Wolf’s shutdown orders that took effect Dec. 11.
“We didn’t have any issues with having practices and went through that pretty well,” Murphy said.
“Where we ran into issues was when parents started pulling their kids out because of concerns with covid. We lost more than half the team because of that. We understood that could happen and expected some to leave, but we didn’t expect that many.”
When practices resumed last week, only three varsity wrestlers were left — juniors Giovanni Savko and Ethan Zahner and sophomore Logan Bechtold.
“We went up to Gateway (Jan. 9) to work out,” Murphy said. “They only have five or six out, and only four were there. We matched them up the best we could to give them a chance to wrestle someone other than the same guy all the time. I know some teams have lost kids, but I’m not sure how widespread it was throughout the WPIAL.”
Four-year varsity performer Isaac Murphy moved on because of graduation.
During his time with the Raiders, Murphy compiled a 60-46 record, including a 17-11 mark as a senior last year.
He finished fourth at sections as a sophomore and competed at WPIALs.
Logan Bechtold, who recorded a 21-20 record at 138/145 as a freshman at Burrell last year, transferred to Riverview in the offseason and hopes to take that next step.
He helped the Bucs win their 14th straight WPIAL Class AA team title and added individual marks with a third at sections and a seventh at WPIALs. The latter gave him an opportunity to compete at the Southwest Regional.
“It’s been an interesting transition coming from such a big wrestling school,” said Bechtold, who is expected to be back at either 138 or 145.
“I am very excited about this year. I feel I’ve been working pretty hard in the room. I was making sure I was staying in shape over the (shutdown) with daily jogs and little things like eating healthy. It just came down to making smart choices.”
Murphy likes what he’s seen from Bechtold so far.
“He brings so much energy to the room,” Murphy said. “He’s always going 100%. He’s ready to have a big season.”
Savko, in his third year on varsity, went 7-16 last year at 160. He is expected to be at 172 to start the season.
“He is pretty strong and athletic,” Murphy said. “He’s working on improving his mat awareness to finish off wins. I think working with Logan all the time will help him.”
Zahner, 5-14 at 182 last season in his varsity debut, is expected to start at 189. In the offseason, the PIAA decided to combine 182 and 195, splitting the difference between the weights. There are now 13 weight classes.
Sophomore Joey Inzinga hoped to make his mark this season, but a shoulder injury has him on the shelf for the season. Murphy said recovery time will keep him out of action until the summer.
“I told the guys that it’s hard to tell what is going to happen week to week,” Murphy said. “But when they get a match, I want to them to go out and wrestle hard and try to get whatever they can. Staying focused will be very important.”
Riverview was scheduled to begin competition Monday with Penn Hills. Those matches are to be contested past the deadline for this week’s edition.
All of the teams in the Section 3-3A subsection — Riverview, Burrell, Knoch, South Allegheny and Valley — were to meet at Burrell on Wednesday (Jan. 20) to wrestle all of the section matches. That event, too, was to happen past this week’s deadline.
“If you miss that night, you are going to miss all of your section matches for seeding purposes,” Murphy said.
“Usually, you would have all of those matches starting in December, and we’d almost be done by now. I look forward to the guys getting a number of matches under their belts. With all of the coaches, we are just trying to get our kids as many matches as possible before the postseason.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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