The members of the Elizabethtown College wrestling team are ready to throw down the competition this season. They are prepared to bring intensity to the mat and work toward attaining a Metropolitan Conference Championship.
“I am very anxious to get back on the mat and start competing again,” junior Julian Meaney said. “I have been wrestling since second grade, and my love for the sport continues to grow each season. I am looking forward to hopefully having a very successful season.”
The team has been putting in long hours in the gym to make sure they are ready for their rigorous schedule. “They are really trying to get the conditioning and the strength training done and out of the way before the season actually starts so then we can focus on wrestling,” sophomore Travis Gerstacker said. “When you just focus on the wrestling aspect of the sport it is a lot easier to improve.”
Once competition begins, the members of the team will be ready to battle for success. They will not be alone in their efforts because the team is a unified group.
“It is a pretty close knit group; everybody is pretty tight on the team. Basically you got to be there to support each other,” Gerstacker said. “It is a very wearing sport on the body, so you have to be there to pick each other up, and it makes it that much easier.”
The tough practice schedule gives the team the opportunity to grow toward excellence. This will help members of the team battle for All-American status. According to Gerstacker, junior Tye Boyer and senior Will Bentley are among the many wrestlers who could achieve this title. Boyer was a Conference Champion as a first-year, and Bentley finished in second place in the conference last season.
In addition to these goals, the Jays have their eye fixed on a possible conference title run. Gerstacker knows that achieving this goal will take effort, but he has seen promising things from his teammates.
“Guys will definitely have to exceed expectations and really have to work hard during the season and make the most of their time,” Gerstacker said. “From what I see, everyone is doing that. They are doing all the right things so we just have to see what happens.”
The Jays will have their first opportunity to test their training at the Messiah Invitational on Nov. 5. Although Messiah is not a conference opponent, the rivalry still exists between the two schools.
“We know all their guys, they know all our guys,” Gerstacker said. “It is a little bit more personal especially in a sport like wrestling where you are going at it one-on-one.”
Looking forward, the team knows that their conference matches will present a challenge. Defeating teams such as Centenary College and The College of New Jersey will be critical for the Jays. These teams placed ahead of Etown in the conference standings last season.
“I am really looking forward to competing against all of the teams in our conference because each team presents a different challenge than the next,” Meaney said. “I learn something new from every individual match which helps me grow as a wrestler.”
While the team forges on with the fall season, Meaney will rehabilitate a shoulder injury he suffered at the end of last year. He has begun riding an exercise bike and jumping rope to build his endurance.
“I would simply love to get through a season without giving my mother a heart-attack from me getting hurt,” Meaney said. “My parents, brothers and my girlfriend all support me, regardless of the eight reconstructive surgeries I’ve had. I would just like to show them that their support was well worth it.”
“I think we have a chance to do something special this year as long as the injury bug stays away,” head coach Eric Walker said. “Honestly, I think we have the talent to get quite a few All-Americans this year and to place in the top 10 as a team.”