Western Maryland will be wrestling with its youth Only 1 senior back for Green Terrors

December 07, 1992|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

Western Maryland wrestling coach Paul Johnson enters his fourth year with hopes of a .500 season and better things ahead.

The Green Terrors will be young this season, with only one senior and four lettermen. The starting lineup could include as many as seven freshman.

"This is already my favorite year coaching, and we haven't even started the season yet," Johnson said.

"We have a talented, hard-core group."

The lone returning senior is Mike Fleming at 167.

Johnson will look for Fleming to provide leadership.

"He brings the most college experience with him to the mat and is a technically sound wrestler," Johnson said.

The Green Terrors' strength will be in the middle weights with sophomore transfer Greg Welch at 142 and junior captain John "J." Black at 150.

"Welch is coming from Old Dominion. He's a born leader with a strong wrestling background and will be a captain for us the next couple years," Johnson said.

"Black is a very good defensive wrestler who rarely makes mistakes. He's in great shape and will wear some wrestlers down by the third period."

Junior John Hampton (134) and heavyweight Ted Speers are the only remaining starters with college experience.

The freshmen expected to start are Justin Mikulski (118), Nick Stafford (126), Greg Tilson (158), Joe Fleming (177) and Danny Tichnell (190).

Mike Bevins (134) and Matt Wachter (heavyweight) also should see time.

Sophomore captain Ray Pickersgill will be out of the lineup this season with a bad knee.

He was expected to compete at 167, and Johnson said his leadership will be missed.

After a respectable 10-9 showing two years ago, the Green Terrors dropped off in 1991 -- falling to 3-13 and ending the campaign with an eight-match losing streak.

A lack of depth hurt last year and could play a role again this season. Johnson also is looking down the road as the Terrors prepare to enter the newly formed Centennial Conference next year.

"We'll have to stay away from injuries with our lack of depth," Johnson said.

"If we can, I think we can potentially be a .500 team even though we're so young," he said.

"Recruiting is looking good for next year, and I think we'll be in good position to challenge for the first Centennial Conference title."

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