Cape wrestling coach Chris Mattioni welcomed 46 grapplers to preseason practice, saying, “The kids are working hard and have great attitudes. This is the most talented and experienced group I have coached here, with 11 seniors and 13 returning lettermen."
Cape returns two-time state champions Thomas Ott at 220 pounds. Ott is considered a top 10 grappler in the country.
“We also have Austin Smith and Justin Lopez, both of whom have placed at the state level the last three years,” Mattioni said.
A coach's breakdown by weight class:
106: Junior Emerson Fajardo, who was an alternate for the state tournament last year, returns at 106. He will be challenged by freshman Max Norquest and junior Juan Cantu.
113: Three freshmen and a sophomore who will battle for the starting spot here. Terrique Riddick, who wrestled at Beacon in seventh grade, has returned to the mat after playing basketball last year. “He is athletic, a hard worker and a pleasure to be around," said Mattioni. Justin Wright, who moved from upstate over the summer, has experience. Evan Ferguson, who wrestled at Mariner, is also a hard worker. Anthony Arias is in his second year of wrestling and continues to progress.
120: Eriq Gloria returns to wrestling. Eriq ran cross country and is in shape. He provides experience in the lightweights.
126: Sophomore Matt Piner has moved up from 113 to 126 or 132. He has some valuable varsity experience form last year. He is joined by freshmen Vinnie Diego and Seth DePrince as well as sophomore Jonathan Martinez. Vinnie wrestled quite a bit during the off-season.
132: There is a bunch of guys vying to start at 132. Junior Jackson Zolper is challenged by Jose Ascencio, Dillon Adams, Zach Clayton, Dante Jacquet, Melissa Quackenbush, and Brianna Woodward.
138: Elliott Young moves up from 132; he was a state qualifier last year, a match away from placing. He is in great shape coming off an excellent soccer season. He is backed up by freshmen Douglas Chavez, Caden Greenlee, Holden Kammerer, and Dylan Mocci.
145: Jacob Latta-Morisette moves up from 126 pounds last year. He will be pushed by junior varsity letterman Nick Diego. Freshman Cory Lawson also looks good at this weight class.
152: JJ Currie and Austin Smith will both certify at this weight class. Austin is a three-time state placer, placing fourth each year at 112, 125, and 145 pounds. JJ placed sixth at 152 in 2012.
160: Currie and Smith will both wrestle here as well. Freshman Seth Caswell and Brock Maloomian are good-sized, athletic freshmen.
170: Justin Lopez remains here. He is a three-time state placer, finishing third last year at 170. Justin will be backed up by senior Brian Spicer and sophomore Joel Torres.
182: Andre Flowers and Aaron Mattioni will both certify at 182. Andre is a two-time state placer, finishing fourth at 182 pounds last year. Aaron is a two-time state qualifier, moving up from the 160-pound weight class last season.
195: Aaron and Andre will both wrestle here as well. Junior Tray Bailey will also compete here.
220: Two-time state champ and Fargo All-American Thomas Ott will compete at 220 again this year. Also at this weight class are Cory Kreis, Dylan Barbour, and Joey and Mikey Montebell.
285: State qualifier Nick Carroll returns to the heavyweight position. Freshmen Akilees Hobson and Zach Flores as well as sophomore Alex Paredes will compete at heavyweight.
Coach Mattioni said, “We have a lot of talent and experience up and down the lineup. Overall it looks like a more balanced team than last year. We have a lot more depth down low. It should be a fun year.
"We have revamped the schedule for this team. We added the Travis Manion Memorial wrestling tournament at LaSalle College High School in Philly. It should be a nice opening tournament. That will be followed by Penn Manor in MIllersville, Pa. Penn Manor is a tough tournament. We have only had two champs ever, Brian Riggin and Travis Dorman. We also added the Hub Cup Tournament in North Hagerstown, Md. Dual meets, we dropped Laurel and added Wilmington Charter and Division Two state champs St. Georges Tech."