Prince William News
Tue., Nov. 20 - patriot-returns-experienced-team-for-wrestling
Patriot returns experienced team for wrestling
© Gainesville TimesThe Patriot varsity wrestling team last season set what the school would likely consider an impressive bench mark for its first year out.
Anthony Olsen led the way with a perfect regular season record, district title, second-place showing at regions and berth to states.
He wasn't alone, of course: a handful of other Pioneers also made it to regions during the Pioneers' inaugural showing.
Five of them join the senior Olsen in returning to a more experienced varsity squad this winter that will have to put on an even better showing than last season to have a shot at the Cedar Run District team title.
Patriot head coach Brian Foley offered his take on the team during an interview on Sunday afternoon, explaining that he expects big efforts from his veterans with a couple surprise showings from the underclassmen.
Winning the district will be "dependent on how our young guys wrestle," said Foley, who returns to the team for his second season.
District champion Battlefield is expected to return another strong group, according to Foley, and the rest of the district is likely to make for tough competition too.
Benefiting Patriot is the overall team of varsity and junior varsity wrestlers grew from 35 last year to 50 this year as a larger chunk of freshmen signed up for the squad.
Foley is also joined by a new assistant coach, Patrick Bowman.
The Manassas native is a former Stonewall Jackson wrestler who earned fifth-team all-state honors during his senior season in 2003 after coming in fourth place in the 145-pound weight class.
He went on to later wrestle for Old Dominion University in Norfolk.
So far, Foley claims that he his group has no "hole in the line up" when it comes to filling out each weight class.
"We see it as someone starting the season with a little less experience" in certain spots, he said.
The senior Olsen is set to compete at the 182-pound level, moving up from the 170-pound slot he competed in as a junior.
Despite going undefeated for his first 35 matches, Olsen exited the season "disappointed" that he could not win states, according to Foley.
He went 1-2 during the Group AAA state tournament after losing his first match of the season in the regional championship.
Coupled with the fact that this is his final year wrestling in high school, coming up short should "give him extra incentive" to win out this winter, said the coach.
"He's really hungry for it," mentioned Foley. "And the other guys feed off that too... They follow along and so now they're all really built up with each other."
Olsen's specialty is dispensing his superior knowledge about the sport to his training partners.
However, he's not the only leader.
Seniors Zach Catron (195 pounds), Dillon Creswell (160-170) and Kevin Etienne (160-170) and Chad Lehner (126) sophomore Christian Gillett (132) are among those returners who earned a trip to regions during the 2011-12 campaign.
Creswell is a "natural born leader by example and by positive reinforcement," said Foley. His teammates "never see him not doing what he says."
Lehner is "a little bit more vocal" in his position as a co-captain while Etienne is the "quiet leader" who "pushes everybody in practice."
Catron, Creswell, Etienne and Olsen are all close enough in weight that they can spar together, suggesting that the mid-heavyweights for Patriot will likely be the team's core for this season.
Sophomore Clayton Siler is also up from the junior varsity team as winning a tournament at the end of the last season.
With his weight also in the 160-pound range, there will be plenty of competition for a limited number of spaces in the line-up at each meet.
Foley took that as a positive development since that will force his players to show up mentally and physically each day on the mat.
"You can't come into practice and slack off. You're competing against your teammates for spots," said Foley.
At the lighter end of the weight scale, junior Parker Anderson is rebounding from a tough season at 106 pounds to potentially come back stronger at 113.
He ended his rookie season by winning two out of four matches after losing throughout December, something Foley took as a sign that he is on his way to coming around fir the team now.
Whomever steps up for Patriot this season will have their wits tested against two of the best teams in the region during dual matches against Colonial Forge and Battlefield.
Foley specifically highlighted two two "rare" dual dates as ones he's circling on his calendar, saying he expects them to be rather fun.
Patriot defeated Battlefield during the Bobcats' "senior night" showdown in January and then went on to face Colonial Forge the next night for the Eagles' own senior night extravaganza.
Battlefield this time comes calling to Nokesville for a date at Patriot's home gym on Jan. 16.
Patriot is also hosting the regional tournament this year, according to Foley.
The Pioneers' first major home tournament bout is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 15.