CASTLETON, Vt. - The Castleton University wrestling program looks to continue its growth as it enters its third season of competition, opening its season onFriday at 3:30 p.m. at the Ithaca Invitational. The Spartans have a full slate of events this season, with 21 dates of competition, and will face a multitude of foes that rank among some of the nation's best.
The schedule features a pair of home matches as the Spartans go head-to-head with in-state rival Norwich University on November 14 before hosting Rhode Island College and SUNY Oswego after the break on January 25. The slate also features matches against 14 opponents who were ranked in the nation's top-25 a season ago.
Castleton enters the year following a season in which it posted an 11-9 mark in dual competition, improving on an 11-14 record during its inaugural campaign. Head coach Scott Legacy returns three coaches from his staff, while adding the recently-graduated Jared Costa as an assistant coach for the upcoming season.
The Spartans return 24 wrestlers from last year's roster while welcoming an impressive incoming class of 22. The roster is comprised of three seniors, 11 juniors, 11 sophomore and 21 freshmen.
Seniors Jesse Webb and Cedrick Stephens open the year as the third- and fifth-ranked wrestlers, respectively, in their weight classes, while junior Max Tempel, who was named to the New England Wrestling Association's 2017-18 All-Rookie Team, opens the 2018-19 campaign ranked fourth in the 141-pound class. Webb earned All-Region recognition for his fifth-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regionals a season ago, while Tempel earned the same honors with a fifth-place finish in his weight class.
Tempel led the squad with 44 wins in 2017-18 and looks to continue that same pace in the 2018-19 campaign. "Tempel, Webb and Stephens all have the ability and the potential to win the region," says Legacy. Webb ranked second on the team with 36 wins, while Stephens sat in a tie for third with 28 total victories last season.
Despite the prestige at the top, the Spartans have a deep roster that will see contributions from many different wrestlers throughout the season. "We return Mitchell LaFlam and Nick Camacho--who have each won over 60 matches--as well as Cameron Milliken, who has had two very successful seasons cut short by injury," says Legacy. "I think those three, as well as Frank Darwak, can all be threats in the region, and guys like Jason Ashline, Joseph Galusha, Rhys Zigich, Reece Millington and Mason Osborn all look like season veterans."
Castleton also loaded up on young talent, as the 23 new faces bring an abundance of wrestling accolades to the mat. "We have a lot of young guys who are college-ready and can contribute this season," Legacy says. "We have a very talented young group who are all working very hard."
Behind the healthy mix of new faces and returning talent, Legacy and his staff have high expectations for the 2018-19 iteration of the Castleton wrestling program. Legacy believes he will see key contributions across most of the first-year class, as Macon Edwards, Owen Kretschmer, Michael Gonyea, Deyker Edwards, Cooper Fleming, Tyler Schultz, Daniel Haverty, Mason LaFlam, Andrew Fountain, Chance LaPier, Alexander Green and more bring many accolades to the team in their first season.
"Our goal this year is to finish in the top four at the New England Wrestling Association Duals [in January] and finish in the top six at the NCAA Regionals [in February]," states Legacy. "We expect to qualify multiple guys for the NCAA National Championships [in March] and we fully expect to see Castleton's name to show up in the national rankings this season."