Roster depth, move to Class 2A boost Hampton wrestling team

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Saturday, November 26, 2022 | 11:01 AM


For the first time in program history, the Hampton wrestling team can try to pick on someone its own size.

The Talbots will compete against similar-sized schools after being dropped to Class 2A during the offseason WPIAL enrollment-based realignment.

This is the first season since the program formed that Hampton isn’t a Class 3A school, trying to compete with much bigger WPIAL powerhouses.

“We have been one of the smallest Triple-A schools for a very long time, and we enjoy that level of competition,” second-year coach Nick Endres said. “But now having the ability to go Double-A, I think is more suitable for our program.”

Hampton went 6-11 last season facing a rugged Class 3A schedule that included Kiski Area and Armstrong. The youthful Talbots, who do not have a senior on the roster, now compete in Section 5-2A against teams such as Highlands, Laurel and North Catholic.

“I think we will do a lot better this year,” junior 160-pounder Alan Danner said. “We will have more kids on our team compared to other schools, and I think we have a good shot at making it to playoffs.”

Danner (7-18 at 138 last season) is part of a big junior class expected to lead the Talbots, who open the season Dec. 2 at the Eastern Area Invitational at Gateway. Other juniors include a pair of returning WPIAL qualifiers, Caleb Rihn (16-13 at 138) and heavyweight Nate Glock (10-21), along with Logan Poslusny (9-11 at 113) and Zach Campbell (3-19 at 126).

Junior Isabella McNutt (5-12 at 106), who competed last summer against some of the best 18-and-under female wrestlers in the nation at the 2022 USA Wrestling junior nationals, is back after last season becoming the first Hampton female wrestler to start a varsity match in two decades.

Another junior, middleweight Seamus McLaughlin, will miss the season with a knee injury.

“I think we have the ability to compete for a top two or three team spot within the section to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs,” Endres said. “We have a good roster of kids. I foresee us having the ability to field a full lineup in most every competition.”

Rihn, the team’s only returning wrestler with a winning record last season, bulked up in the offseason and will compete at 172 pounds. He wrestled at 145 most of last season and 126 as a freshman.

“He put on some size and strength,” Endres said. “He’s been putting in the time in the weight room and I think his body was just ready to grow a few weight classes.”

Danner also got much bigger in the offseason, jumping from 138 to 160.

“I feel a lot better,” Danner said. “I feel more confident in my strength and I feel I can do moves more easily. … I noticed last season that my strength was affecting me the most. I wasn’t as strong.”

Other Talbots hoping to contribute are juniors Aiden Petry, Connor Shim and Cole Stapleton, sophomores Jackson Barton and Chris Ninehouser and freshman Dustin Kerr, an accomplished junior high wrestler who will compete at 132 pounds.

“He’s a kid that just loves wrestling,” Endres said of Kerr. “He wrestles as much as he can year-round. He’s had success for a few years now coming on up to the varsity program. He has good competition maturity. Having that as a freshman is rare to see.”

Hampton will host its annual Dawg Duals on Dec. 10 and travel to the Burgettstown Invitational, the Allegheny County Championships at Fox Chapel and the Fred Bell Tournament at Grove City on consecutive weekends in January.

Endres said the Talbots hope to turn the Class 2A regular-season schedule into a WPIAL postseason berth.

“It changes a lot for us,” Endres said. “I don’t think it’s easy. It’s just a change. But I think it helps us collectively as a team be more competitive within our section and hopefully compete for a team playoff spot.”

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