The Pirates wrestling team is working to get back to the sectional final this year with a mix of veterans and newcomers on the mats.
Let’s take a look at the 2016-2017 wrestling season at Cinnaminson High School.
The Pirates begin their campaign at the Nottingham Tournament today at 9:30am.
“I think that we have a really solid group of seniors and I’ve been able to lean on them knowing they’re going to be working really hard,” head coach Mike McConnell said. “They’ve been hitting the weight room and getting ready for a physical, tough season.”
Cinnaminson is coming off a season in which they won 17 matches, Patriot Division crown and took part in the South, Group 2 playoffs.
“We’ve done a lot of teaching and are getting better every day,” McConnell said. “If we teach, focus on strength and get a good conditioning workout, the points will come.”
An experienced group of seniors will lead this year’s squad that features newcomers at various weights.
“I would love to have more young guys,” McConnell said. “The guys coming in from the Middle School bring a lot of experience to the table. There’s a lot of good leadership in the room and the young guys are following suit.”
Keith Swartley will be going for his 100th career victory early in the season, while returners Joe Saxton, Joe Cody, Jarrod Averill, Tyler Addlesberger and Andrew Halecki will anchor a talented lineup.
“I just want to have a successful season,” Saxton said. “I just want to do whatever satisfies me and the team, whatever it takes.”
“You have the seniors coming back. Everyone that wants to be here is here. The freshmen are working hard and looking good. I’m just excited about the season.”
Addlesberger missed his entire junior season on the mats due to surgery.
“I’m extremely excited to be back wrestling. It was disappointing, but I learned a lot sitting on the sidelines every match. I feel ready and I’m happy.”
Addlesberger has been around the program for four-plus years and had some advice for the younger wrestlers.
“Just try to learn. It doesn’t matter where you are wrestling. I’ve never experienced coaching like this in my life. It’s an honor to be a member of this program. For the freshmen, put in the work and everything you practice will show up in a match.”
Swartley piggybacked the sentiment from Addlesberger about the coaching, speaking highly of McConnell and all he’s done the last two years as head coach.
“McConnell is just a role model. He’s just a really hard worker and it’s rubbed off on me and a lot of the guys in the room. I look up to him a lot. He makes me want to work harder seeing how hard he works.”
Swartley knows what the wrestling program can do for young athletes.
“I want them to develop like I did in the program. I came in as a freshman and I was nowhere near as tough as I am now. I want them to benefit from the program the way I benefited.”
Swartley is chomping at the bit to get started, much like the rest of this teammates.
“I want to wrestle at my pace, wrestle the way I want to, wrestle my match. I don’t want to steep to their level. I have to wrestle the way I know how.”
The Pirates first Patriot match is on Wednesday, January 4 at Pemberton at 6pm. Other Patriot opponents include Delran, BCIT-Westampton, Willingboro and Bordentown.
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