Small in numbers, big in talent
The numbers may be low for this year’s Salisbury wrestling team, but the talent in the Falcons wrestling room is undeniable. While there are only five wrestlers on the 2021 roster, each of them has a chance to be special.
And the good news is this team is young. Three sophomores, a junior and a freshman make up the Falcons’ lineup. Head coach Eric Snyder doesn’t have one senior in this condensed season due to Covid-19.
Sophomores John Sammy, Braeden Alder and Toby Linn, along with junior Ben Krauss, are all back after solid seasons a year ago. Kyle Lasch, who’s expected to wrestle at 106 pounds, is a freshman that was a match away from qualifying for the junior high district tournament a season ago.
“We lost a couple of kids that I thought we would have out,” Snyder said. “A couple of football players that we thought we were going to get just decided not to. We lost a couple of kids to Covid with parents not wanting them to wrestling, which is understandable. I had a couple of other freshmen that just ended up not coming out. But we are focused on the five guys that we have.”
The two graduates from last season’s team were Devon Alder and Kyle Killiri. Alder was a district place-winner last winter and nearly qualified for regionals.
Brayden Alder is the most decorated returning wrestler from a season ago after posting 24 wins as a freshman. He’s expected to wrestle at 132 or 138 pounds, and was a match away from placing at last year’s District 11 Class 2A tournament.
Krauss (180) finished last season with 20 wins. Linn is back after going 17-15 in his first season wrestling since the sixth grade.
“I think if this was a normal year and we had just these five guys, I think legitimately all five of them would have more than 20 wins,” Snyder said. “They’d all be fighting for district medals and competing in districts. And then all five really have the potential of qualifying for regionals, and two or three of them having a shot to get to states.”
Sammy is a talented grappler expected to suit up most nights at 126 or 132 pounds. He suffered a late-season knee injury last year that forced him to miss a number of dual meets, the Coal Cracker Tournament and the District 11 Class 2A Tournament.
If Sammy is healthy for the entire season, Snyder has high hopes for the underclassmen this winter once again.
“[Sammy] had some really quality wins,” Snyder said. “The kid in particular that probably would have been a state-qualifier last year and was a district finalist…John had beaten him during the year.
“He got injured at the end of last year, so he missed the last part of the season and the district tournament. He had a really good shot last year as a freshman to medal at districts and potentially make it to regionals.”
Snyder has high hopes for all of his wrestlers. But due to Covid-19, there figures to be a different look to the postseason this winter. The PIAA recommended having a maximum of eight individuals in any single bracket.
It’s unsure what the District 11 will do for its tournament, but the rest seems to be clear. Only two wrestlers will advance from districts to regionals, four from regionals to a newly created super regional tournament, and then four from the super regional to states.
“They are changing the way the postseason is going to run this year,” Snyder said. “We’re not getting as many district qualifiers and not as many regional qualifiers. They added an extra [super regional] tournament in there. It’s more difficult to get guys out.”
Still there are high expectations for the Falcons once the season gets underway. Salisbury opens its season on January 11 against Wilson.