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Wrestlers ready for D-11 Tourney

After a condensed, monthlong 15-match regular season schedule of wrestling, the Salisbury grapplers have their eyes set on the postseason now.

With the District 11 Class 2A tournament slated for Saturday, Falcon head coach Eric Snyder is eager to see how his four wrestlers fare at the annual event. Seeding for each weight class, which will feature up to 16 wrestlers per class, will be released this week.

Snyder anticipates a number of his grapplers will have high seeds with the possibility of advancing to regionals.

“In a normal year, I think probably all four of them would have a decent chance to place in the top four,” Snyder said. “Definitely three of them would have a chance to place in the top four. It’s hard to tell. You have kids jumping all over the place with weights. You don’t know what weight class kids are going to wrestle.”

But this year presents new challenges when it comes to advancing to regionals. Unlike past years in which four wrestlers would move on, only two will advance to regionals from District 11 this season.

Still, Snyder believes a number of these Falcons still have a fighter’s chance at making it to the next level. He anticipates John Sammy (12-3) and Brayden Alder (11-4) have the best chances at regionals, but admits it will be an uphill climb with wrestlers competing at various classes throughout the year.

Sammy missed last year’s district tournament due to an injury, but is expected to be one of the top five seeds, according to Snyder, at 132 pounds. Alder is wrestling at 138 and expected to make some noise as well.

“At the end of the day, we just want all four of the kids to go out there and wrestle as best as they can,” Snyder said. “Just compete and wrestle hard. This is just a really crazy year. If it’s a normal year, I think John Sammy and Brayden Alder are probably going to get out. And Ben Krauss would have a really good shot.”

Krauss finished the regular season 9-6 and is expected to compete at 189 pounds at districts, and Snyder expects him to put together an impressive showing as well.

Toby Linn (8-2) was injured for a part of the regular season and will compete at 152 pounds in districts. His only two losses came in a tournament this past weekend. One was against a state-qualifier from last year and the other was against a tough Jim Thorpe grappler.

One advantage though that some of the Falcons might benefit from is a new true second-place match with the final regional spot on the line. Unlike prior years, the winner of the consolation bracket will have a chance to wrestle against the loser of the finals for second place, as long as the two did not face off previously at districts.

“Because we only get the top two wrestlers to advance to regionals, they are going to do a true second-place match,” Snyder said. “For some of these kids if they get beat and are able to battle back and take third, if they didn’t wrestle that second place kid during the tournament, they’ll get the opportunity to wrestle whoever loses in the final for a shot to get to go onto regionals.”

The Falcons have also done a great job with the COVID-19 precautions throughout the season, setting up the possibility for a postseason run. Much of their schedule went uninterrupted this winter.

“You can say we are lucky or not lucky because our numbers were low,” Snyder said. “But because our numbers were low, we had less of a chance to get shut down because we didn’t have as many kids that had a chance to catch COVID-19…Overall I think it went pretty well.”