One year after starting 15-0 and winning its first Colonial Conference Liberty Division title since 1978, the West Deptford High School wrestling program finds itself off to a bumpy start.
December losses to Delsea and Collingswood have the Eagles in an early 0-2 hole, yet have done little to affect the mindset of first-year coach Chris Scannell. He knows the season is still in its infancy and there is plenty of talent and character in his room to turn things around quickly.
“The way the coaching staff and I look at it is we were not really at full strength yet in those early matches,” Scannell said. “We still had guys trying to find their place in the lineup and guys who weren’t certified yet because of football and things like that. As the season is progressing we are starting to see how our lineup is going to shape up and it’s looking pretty good. We are excited to see a quick return to where we should be.”
The Eagles return to the mat Friday at Overbrook. That match is followed by a key division showdown against Haddonfield on Jan 9.
Haddonfield, Haddon Township, Paulsboro and Collingswood all figure to fight for the top of their respective divisions this season and West Deptford hopes to be right there with them.
“This is going to be a grind-it-out type of season for us,” Scannell said. “We have our big guys. We have our Rory Bonners and Griffin Bonners and Tyler Kaminskis who are always going to be real successful. Those guys are going to carry us and we are going to lean on them, but at the same time we have guys who are inexperienced, first-year guys. Can we be consistent with an inexperienced line? That’s the real question and that will be the real challenge for the squad.”
Kaminski (7-1) is confident his senior season will be full of success for both himself and his teammates. Last season was a special one for Kaminski, who won a Region 8 championship as a No. 6 seed, defeating the No. 1, 2, and 3 seeds along the way. He said winning regions last year has not changed his mindset, although it has made him more aware of what he is capable of when he is on top of his form.
“I go by what (former coach John) Craig told me and that’s a carefree mentality,” Kaminski said. “I just go out there and wrestle the body and not the name. I try not to worry about who they are or what they have accomplished.”
Scannell has been impressed with what he has seen from Kaminski, who won his 120-pound weight class at the Arthur Marinelli Tournament last weekend.
“Tyler has an unbelievable work ethic and also has a really great attitude as a wrestler,” Scannell said. “He is always trying to learn and is willing to try new things. He’s always asking for advice and pushes himself and holds himself to a high standard. He is an extremely confident wrestler. That was evident in last year’s Region 8 Tournament and he has carried that confidence over to this year already.”
Kaminski is hopeful he can duplicate the success he had last season and go out on a high note.
“I feel pretty confident about myself that I am going to have a good year, but at the same time it’s kind of sad because it’s my last year,” Kaminski said.
However, before he can turn his success to individual targets, he first hopes to help his team get on a winning track. He too thinks the turnaround can happen quickly as long as everyone is willing to put in the work in practice room.
“I have been working with a lot of the smaller guys and trying to help them get better,” Kaminski said. “We have to come together as a team still and work harder.”