Let's take stock here.
There are 10 weight classes in collegiate wrestling, and the team from Western Maryland College has 17 competitors.
Nothing wrong with that.
Nothing, that is, until you examine the numbers a little closer.
The Green Terrors, who last year compiled a 10-9 mark, including 10-3 in the competitive Middle Atlantic Conference, lost seven starters to either graduation or transfer.
Included in the latter were a pair of the Terrors' finest in Anthony Spagnole, who transferred to Moravian after placing second in the conference at 158 pounds, and Jay Black, who enrolled in a community college after taking fourth at 142.
Now figure at least four freshmen into this year's lineup, and the equation would seem to equal mediocrity, at best.
No, the numbers don't bode well for Western Maryland coach Paul Johnson. But, then again, when have numbers ever mattered on the mat?
"We're very inexperienced and don't have much depth," said Johnson, the Terrors' third-year coach. "But we do have some quality people. It'll be tough, but we're hoping to surprise some people."
For a team that placed eighth in the conference (out of 19) a season ago and moved to within reach of contender status, this campaign is likely to be a step in the opposite direction.
Leading the way this season will be a pair of seniors in Scott Tinney (177 pounds) and heavyweight Ben Kling. Johnson said both could shock several conference opponents with their determination and experience.
Two newcomers -- Jude Deibel (134) and Mike Eichner (167) -- also could play key roles.
Deibel, one of three North Carroll products on the team, along with brother, Justin, and Andy Dell, is a transfer from George Mason University in Virginia, where he wrestled on the B squad. Thejunior will be expected to make an immediate impact.
Said Johnson, "In order to wrestle 30 matches a year in a quality program like George Mason, you have to be of quality. We think Jude can really help us."
Eichner, a freshman and member of the football team, which wrapped up its season yesterday, has practiced little but shows some promise, the coach said.
He was a district champion in Pennsylvania as a senior in high school.
But Eichner, like many others on the team, illustrates a problem -- too many young wrestlers who show promise but have yet to prove themselves on the college level.
Will thedearth of proven talent stop this team from reaching the coach's goal of a .500 season?
The cards may be stacked against Western Maryland, but with two seniors and a pair of newcomers leading the way, the one thing separating the Terrors and a winning hand could be an ace-- Pat Maczko.
A sophomore who sat out last season, Maczko took took fifth in the state in his weight class as a high school senior inPhillipsburg, N.J.
Johnson says the sophomore is likely to show up for wrestling now that football season is over.
Which is anotherproblem. Including Maczko, the Terrors have four key wrestlers who played football and have yet to practice with the team.
WESTERN MD. WRESTLING
Head coach: Paul Johnson, third year
Assistant coach: Joe Thomas
Last year's record: 10-9 overall, ninth in the Middle Atlantic Conference tournament
Top returners: Seniors, Scott Tinney (177), Ben Kling (Hvy), Jeff MacAndrew (Hvy); junior, Mike Flemming (150); sophomores, Andy Dell (118), Ray Pickersgill (158), Carl Downey(176)
Top newcomers: Junior, Jude Deibel (134); freshmen, Justin Deibel (126), John Wilson (142), Mike Eichner (167), Todd Speers (190)
Coach's comments: "We lost seven starters from last year and arevery young and inexperienced. It's going to be a difficult year because most teams in the conference have more experience. But our guys are decent, and could pull a few surprises. Everybody on the team has a shot to finish .500, and I would like to do at least that well for the year."
The Carroll County Sun's outlook: After improving greatly last season, Western Maryland will take a step backward. But only a small one. Last year's solid recruiting and the prospects of an even better crop this year, gives the Green Terrors hope for the future.Unfortunately, though, it won't help them much this season. After losing seven starters, the Terrors will have to rely on senior leadership from Scott Tinney and Ben Kling, and a host of inexperienced newcomers. In the always-tough Middle Atlantic Conference, where powers Moravian, Lycoming and Delaware Valley often are among the best nationally in Division III, that just won't be enough. Look for them to finish toward the back of the pack, but improve during the season.