Veteran core ready to lead Pine-Richland wrestlers

Sunday, December 12, 2021 | 9:20 PM

When mats need to be cleaned before practice, Pine-Richland wrestling coach Caleb Kolb doesn’t have to seek out a volunteer to get the mop out and start scrubbing.

Jake Lukez and Joey Schneck get the job done without anyone on the coaching staff asking.

It’s a small detail, but it’s also a window into the personalities in the wrestling room.

Kolb praised their work ethic and the example they’ve set for a big group of freshmen making the leap into varsity wrestling.

Along with Lukez and Schneck, Kelin Laffey and Anthony Ferraro provide the Rams with a veteran core. They’re also looking to produce results.

“They are guys you want the rest of the team to emulate,” Kolb said. “They are the guys to look up to. I think Kelin, Anthony, Joey and Jake are going to have great years as well as be great leaders.”

The aforementioned quartet will collectively fill the void of Cole Spencer, who graduated after placing third in the state and winning the WPIAL title at 160 pounds. Spencer amassed 130 wins in his career, two WPIAL championships and made three appearances at the PIAA tournament. He’s currently at Penn.

Laffey, a senior, finished 12-3 last year and is 72-19 for his career. He was the Section 3 champion at 145 pounds and went on to finish fourth at WPIALs, narrowly missing out on going to regionals. He’ll start this season at 152.

“Kelin had a great year last year,” Kolb said. “I’m proud of him, because he’s matured a lot over the last year. This offseason he was lifting, coming in early, staying late and asking questions. He’s really become the leader we all thought he could.”

Ferraro went 16-4 as a sophomore last year and like Laffey won sectionals and finished fourth at WPIALs. He will move from 113 to 132 to start. Kolb said Ferraro put in a lot of time over the summer to get stronger.

Lukez, a junior, accrued 11 wins a season ago. He’ll start the season at 172. Kolb said he has similar traits to his older brother and former Pine-Richland wrestler Nate Lukez.

Scheck, a junior, is the Rams’ heavyweight. Kolb praised Schneck’s determination, saying he stayed over 30 minutes past the end of a practice last week to get extra reps in.

Some of the freshmen will crack the starting lineup, including Dom Ferraro, Anthony’s younger brother, and Quinn and Rowan Foster, who are twin brothers.

One freshman who won’t be in the lineup is Vaughn Spencer.

Spencer, who is ranked in the top 15 freshmen wrestlers in the country by several scouting services, is out for the season with an injury. He is the younger brother of Cole Spencer. Vaughn won three consecutive PIAA junior high state championships.

“He’s pretty bummed, but we’re trying to keep his spirits up,” Kolb said. “We told him that if it had to happen it’s better to happen his freshman year. Then he can come back and become a three-time state champ.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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