The Dallas wrestling team spent the first month of the season hitting a demanding tournament trail in preparation for the more challenging league and district schedule ahead.
We're trying to wrestle a tough pre-conference schedule to get ourselves ready, coach Mike Richards said. We made the jump to Triple-A so that's going to be an adjustment.
The Mountaineers, who open their Wyoming Valley Conference dual-meet schedule Wednesday at Berwick, went from being one of the largest Class AA schools to being one of the smallest Class AAAs in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association's reclassification that takes place every two years. Along with the change in classification, Dallas jumps up from Division 2 to Division 1 of the WVC.
It's going to be a little tougher in Triple-A because we are a smaller school, but you have to step up and wrestle tougher competition, Richards said. With the kids we have, I think we're as good as anyone in the conference.
Dallas returns 10 starters, but opened the season forfeiting the two lowest weight classes (106 and 113 pounds). The Mountaineers fixed that problem in time for the Buckskin Classic at Conestoga Valley during the holiday break.
Dominic DeGraba, a District 2 and Northeast Regional champion in Class AA last season, dropped to 113 and finished second in the 25-team event. The Mountaineers otherwise struggled in the event, finishing 19th in the team standings withonly Kris Roccograndi joining DeGraba in the top six of a weight class.
DeGraba posted 42 wins last season. Roccograndi, Stephen Mingey, Zach Makosky and Ryan Monk are all back after winning 20-plus bouts a year ago.
Roccograndi won at 171 pounds and Monk finished second at 285 when the Mountaineers finished ninth out of 28 teams at the Penn Manor Tournament in Millersville.
Dallas is 2-9 after going just 1-4 in both the Boyertown Duals and Berwick Duals.
We have wrestled some of the better teams in the state and competed pretty well, Richards said.
The Mountaineers went 5-1 in Division 2 and 17-11 overall last season.
Aaron Klimovitch and Jimmy Caffrey are two more veterans following DeGraba in the lower weights. Freshman Cole Dixon is at 138 pounds. Mingey is at 145. Sophomore Ryan Cheskiewicz is a newcomer at 152.
Makosky and Logan Brace both return and have been working at or around 160 pounds. Roccograndi and Connor Martinez are back at 170 and 182. Jake Howell and Mark Michno are new to the lineup at 195 and 220. Monk, a sophomore, is the heavyweight.
The Mountaineers were scheduled to wrestle in the Wyoming Valley Conference Tournament Friday and Saturday.
Coughlin and Wyoming Valley West tied for the top spot in the division a year ago.
Delaware Valley is the defending District 2 Class AAA champion in both dual and tournament competition.