ANDERSON, S.C. – With one of its toughest schedules in the program’s history slated for the 2013-14 season, Anderson University wrestling opens up the season on Saturday, Nov. 2 as the Trojans head to the Virginia Quad Meet when they face three Division I programs in Virginia, West Virginia and Gardner-Webb. AU gets the season started with UVa at 10 a.m.
“I’m very excited for the upcoming season,” Anderson head coach Dock Kelly said. “We have an infusion of new talent in the lineup and every year, it’s different. The schedules don’t get easier, but you find out what you have. We need to see if our guys will bounce back after adversity and will they be up for the challenge when we wrestle Division I teams. We’re also excited to be in the new region, so we’re all looking forward to it.”
After being in Region I last season, the Trojans have moved to Region II which will consist of Midwest, Great Lakes, and Southeast teams. According to the Basford Preseason Regional rankings, Anderson is projected to finish 11th in the 17-team field.
125: Redshirt senior Cory Monteforte is the slated starter for 125 pounds, comingoff a season where he did not compete due to injuries. Monteforte has been working hard to get back on the mats for this season, training with teammates at 133 and 141 pounds and he has been holding his own. With the Cliffside Park, N.J. native competing so well in the wrestling room, Kelly is excited for Monteforte’s final season in the Black and Gold.
Kelly’s comments: “Cory has had a lot of nagging injuries throughout his career, but we’re expecting things to come together for him this year. He is short in stature, but he is strong and on the mat, he’s a fireball. We’re expecting a big year for Cory and possibly a trip to nationals in his future.”
133: In the most notable weight class in AU’s lineup from last season due to the first-year success of Zak Hale, the Trojans look to continue their winning ways at 133 in 2013-14. The sophomore was ranked No. 2 in the Basford Preseason Regional rankings at 133 pounds, trailing only Ashland’s Michael Labry. Hale is the projected starter at 133, but Kelly could install freshmen Roberto Molina and Lawrence Williams and junior Keenan Simmons to bump Hale up a weight class.
Kelly’s comments: “It seems like the world is expecting big things out of Zak this season, so it’s going to be a challenge. Zak will now be the hunted, as opposed to be the hunter, so Zak had the privilege of flying under the radar a season ago and it wasn’t until later in the year when people started to realize Zak was for real. Zak won’t catch anyone by surprise this season and will get everyone’s best match. We have to keep Zak motivated throughout the season in order to not have any slip ups along the way.”
141: The 141 weight class could possibly hold the most depth on the roster as five wrestlers, excluding Hale, could see time in this slot. Experienced members of the roster in senior Eric DeAngelis and Ian Harper will be pushed by roster newcomers junior Jared Greer, a transfer from Spartanburg Methodist, and highly touted freshman Anthony Colon from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Colon joins classmate Dakota Stewart to round out 141.
Kelly’s comments: “We’re looking for someone to step up and seize the 141 weight class. Jared (Greer) has been scrappy in practice and (Eric) DeAngelis is a veteran on the roster who needs to decide if he wants to take a step to be great. Ian Harper is one of the winningest high school wrestlers in the state of South Carolina and we’re looking to get that type of wrestler out of Ian. Dakota is a hard worker and quality wrestler, he just have to get him to transition from high school to college with him. (Anthony) Colon has all the credentials as a high school All-American and is very talented. (Colon) has all the traits to be great, but we have to be patient with him and we’re expecting great things from him this season.”
149: DeAngelis and Harper could split time at 149 to begin the season, due to some depth issues between 149 and 157. Kelly would like to get the class solidified as soon as possible once the Trojans head into the heart of their schedule.
157: Graduate student Zane Newton looks to be the starter at 157, as the Greenwood, S.C. native is a transfer from The Citadel where his career was highlighted by a second place finish at The Citadel Open. Newton comes to the program with some AU ties as his brother, Adam, wrestled for the Trojans a few seasons ago.
Kelly’s comments: “Zane is multi-high school state champion here in South Carolina and he is a scrapper. Zane is going to surprise some people because of his fight and ‘no quit’ attitude. We want to make the most of his remaining eligibility as he goes out and competes for us this season.”
165: In one of the most anticipated battles for a starting position in the AU lineup, freshman Stephen Wylie and sophomore Jacob Allen had wrestle off on Thursday in the annual Black and Gold meet, but both could see time on the mat 165. Wylie comes to AU as one of the most athletic wrestlers on the team, coming from Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga. Allen never got on the winning path last season, but has been working hard to bounce back and contribute right away for the Trojans.
Kelly’s Comments: “Stephen is an athletic specimen. He is solid with his feet and his athleticism is going to help him and we’ll looking for immediate success out of him. Stephen has a drive to him that he wants to eventually become an Olympian and I love that about him. He works hard, has big dreams and it takes courage to dream big. As for Jacob, he has been working hard doing Cross-Fit this summer. After last season, I think he understood how he needed to train and how to get better. I think Jacob will be ready and we’re going to get some improved results this season out of him.”
174: After not competing a season ago due to injuries and personal reasons, Brian Onofrio is the slated starter at 174. Onofrio looks to fly under the radar as teams will be unfamiliar with him after not seeing the mat all of last year. In 2011, Onofrio highlighted his season with two wins at the Super I Region Duals.
Kelly’s Comments: “I think Brian is going to surprise people this season after taking a year off. (Brian) has trained hard over this past summer and came in lean, strong, and has been going hard at practice. Mentally, he has it together, and I think he’s going to do really well.”
184: Taylor Dorsett looks to improve from last season, as he is the slated starter at 184. Dorsett has picked up key wins throughout his career at AU, but will look to continue his recent success during the 2013-14 season.
Kelly’s Comments: “Taylor is committed to this season and I’m expecting him to do well at 184. He’s going to produce, I just don’t know how much.”
197: Freshman Eli Blalock will be asked to start right away in the Anderson lineup, as he comes to AU from Indian Trail, N.C. where he wrapped up his career at Metrolina Christian Academy. Blalock, who stands at 6-foot-5, will try to grab wins using his reach and stature.
Kelly’s Comments: “Eli will be trial by fire, but he has a great attitude and has been working hard dealing with the transition from high school to college wrestling. He has been giving his best effort in practice and that’s all I can ask for. We have to teach him how to use his leverage since he is so tall and there are some things we can show him that his opponents will not be able to do because of his height. It’ll be a steep learning curve, but I know he’ll hang in there and good things will come because of his hard work.”
285: Freshman Brendon Latham will have a similar road compared to Blalock, who will be looked to start right away in the heavyweight class. Latham, who is Lake Norman High School graduate, will be giving some weight to some of his competitors, but will look to contribute to the upcoming season.
Kelly’s Comments: “We’re expecting some great things from Brendon as we try to make him more offensive minded. In high school, he won a lot of close matches, so we need to teach him how to open the flood gates and let it pour with him. Brendon has been working hard, has a great attitude and we’re trying to teach him to use his quickness when he will be facing bigger heavyweights.”
With the season beginning on Saturday, AU’s home schedule does not begin until Jan. 30 when it hosts first-year program Coker on Jan. 30, followed by a home dual with UNC Pembroke on Feb. 6 for the Battle of the Belt. The Trojans begin the season with a 17 road and neutral site contests, highlighted by duals with six Division I opponents and trips to the UNC Pembroke Open and the Midlands Invitational.