2015-2016 Alderson Broaddus University Wrestling Preview
Entering its third season the Battler wrestling program of Alderson Broaddus University (Philippi, WV) is poised to make great strides. Former coach Mitch Smith, now at West Liberty University, left a solid foundation of talent and experience behind for new coach Sam Gardner to work with. The addition of several strong recruits, combined with a number of successful experienced returners, has this team poised for a breakout year. Gardner, who was instrumental in the revival of the WVU Tech program in the NAIA, believes that this team is capable of producing a number of program "firsts"; included among them would be the first winning dual meet record, first National Qualifier(s), and first All-American(s).
AB is led by a trio of strong middleweights. Juniors Keith Stednitz (157) and Cody Spinks(174), and Sophomore Logan Shurina (165) are the three top returners. Stednitz has won numerous tournaments and owns a dual meet win over the 2014 NCAA Champion in his time in Philippi. Spinks, a two-time state champ from Mussleman (WV), has won 20 matches in back to back seasons and also has a number of tournament titles under his belt. Sophomore Shurina is coming off of a strong freshman season which saw him win both the Casperson Classic and WV Collegiate States. These three will provide leadership in and out of the room.
Former Pennsylvania state qualifier Cody Buchanan returns at 125lbs, for his third season at that weight. The 133 lb. class will be manned by freshman Jacob Monn, a State Champion and multiple time finalist from Ritchie County (WV), and returner Michael Stokes. Micah Powell will use the experience he banked the previous two seasons and looks to have a breakout year at 141 lbs. The 149 lb. weight class will be manned by the dichotomous duo of Matt Harris (Gov. Mifflin, PA) and Chris Brent (Huntington, WV). Harris, tall and lanky, is a strong rider, while Brent is a stocky powerhouse who likes to aggressively attack on his feet.
The 184 lb. weight will be decided through competition performances, with four athletes looking to establish themselves as the number one guy. Nate Cunningham, Tyler Cross, Josiah Solak, and Davis Solak will all see considerable time in an effort to determine who will represent the squad at the Regional Championships. Jake Bennett, a Southwestern Regional champion from Hyndman, PA, will man the 197 lb. weight. Bennett is a strong hand fighter who keeps a high pace for an upper weight. Heavyweight will be represented by Nick Nester, a lanky heavy from Roanoke, VA and the stockier Tyler Arnett, the 220 lb. WV State champion in 2015.
Depth is still an issue at Alderson Broaddus, and it is being aggressively addressed through recruiting. The Battlers will be expecting athletes like Cole Williams, Jon Sigley, Cory Buchanan, and Jason West to push the presumptive starters to fight and keep their position in the line-up. A schedule heavy in individual tournaments and dual meet tournaments will provide every member of the team ample opportunity to get quality competitive experience and prove that they should be the #1 athlete on the depth chart.
The 2015-2016 edition of the Battler Wrestling schedule is markedly different from previous years. The emphasis has changed from battling it out in dual meets with the nation's top Div. II squads on a weekly basis to one based more on performances in tournament settings. Depth is a limiting factor in a dual-meet heavy schedule, especially one as top-heavy with the nation's elite as last year's schedule was. The shift in emphasis will allow each individual on the team the opportunity to develop in the kind of environment that mimics the tournaments that determine the National Championship. As depth and experience grows the team will likely shift back to the weekly gauntlet of wrestling the nation's top-ranked teams, until then a schedule heavy in tournament opportunities will best serve the current needs of the program.
Coach Gardner: "I am excited to see what this season holds. This team has plenty of talent, and although I don't want to make specific predictions, I know the capability is here to be pretty darn good. Transitions are never easy and simple, but these guys have made it very easy to come in and get the ball rolling. They work hard, have good attitudes, and know that the sport is supposed to be fun. Battler wrestling on the precipice of having a great year, but it will be up to these guys to seize the opportunity in front of them and make the most of it."
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