Wrestlers Should Be More Competitive
The wrestling program has suffered in recent seasons from a paucity of participants, translating into “forfeits” in multiple weight classes and, in turn, points for opposing teams in matches. So, for example, in one match last year, Salisbury fielded six wrestlers, four of whom won their matches. In other words, the Knights finished the day with a winning slate of 4-2 – and lost the match, one-sidedly, because the other school had wrestlers ready to do battle in most of the other seven weight classes. That Salisbury team finished with a record of 4-13-1 and took 9th place at the Western New Englands.
If nothing else, numbers are up this winter, and long-time head coach Adam Bunce should be able to send wrestlers to the mat in more weight classes than he could in 2016-17. “Currently, it looks like we will fill all but three weight classes,” a cautiously optimistic Bunce told a fan recently, “which will bode better for dual matches and keep us competitive all season.”
Not only that, but Bunce and his staff have some talent to work with, both in the returning ranks and in the field of newcomers. In the former group, Bunce can count a Western New England Champion in Pete Schellbach ’20, who captured the 113-lb. title a year ago, along with a New England qualifier (top eight wrestlers by weight class) in Jackson Mullaney ’19, who is no opponent’s idea of a Saturday stroll in the park at 152-lbs. That talented twosome is joined by returners Eric Buie ’18 (220-lb. class) and Cameron Cole ’20 (160-lb.).
Which brings us to those newcomers, seven in all, headed by PG Stephen Willis ’18 of Lexington, MA, who is expected to cut a wide swath through the 170-lb. ranks this winter. Willis has the talent to continue his career at the college level, as the attention of several college coaches attests. Joining Willis in the 170-lb. class is fellow PG Riley Bakewell ’18, a Marylander who previously wrestled for St. Paul’s School in Baltimore. The heavyweight class (285-lb.) boasts German import Vincent Sprenger ’20. A varsity football player, Sprenger has never wrestled before, but he brings to the program athleticism, enthusiasm, and a keen readiness to learn the rudiments under Bunce’s tutelage. At 195-lbs. and 182 lbs. respectively, form-mates Raleigh Wynot ’19 and Beck Miller ’19 both show promise. Bunce will likely deploy Ton Pothisawang ’18 at the 132-lb. class, while Jaeho Song ’21 will compete at 113-lbs.
Top opponents will include, according to Bunce, Avon Old Farms, Brunswick, and Trinity Pawling. While these programs have more fire power than does Salisbury, they may find themselves sadly mistaken if they anticipate kicking back with an Arnold Palmer after making quick work of another under-manned Knight squad. This is a team that will make even stronger opponents work hard – harder, certainly, than has too often been the case in recent years.
Bunce likes what he sees. “Our returners look to build on the successful seasons they had last year,” the former Hotchkiss and Wesleyan stand-out reflects, “and with the addition of our PGs we look to elevate the level of wrestling and intensity in the room, build a successful season, and perform well in the tournaments.”
History of the Program
Salisbury's first wrestling team took to the mats in 1960, but went winless in its initial season. The following year the grapplers notched their first victory over Darrow School. For the next two decades the program was led by Coach Robert "Robin" Mead. The team currently competes against a wide range of prep school opponents and participates in several tournaments each year. Over the years, New England champions in their weight class have included Mike Barnini '67, Jonathan Barres '69, Lyle Foster '78, Chris Ripley '97, Rey Kelly '07, Rob Ruiz '11, Josh Roometua '12 and Jake Roometua '12, among others.