CHATHAM, NJ - Dylan Mulcahy was the marquee name on the Chatham High wrestling team last season, finishing as the school's all-time win leader with more than 100 victories to his name. With Mulcahy gone, it's time for the supporting cast of a year ago to take center stage for the Cougars.
"The good thing is we have a lot of young guys who started last year and should be coming into their own," Chatham coach Brian Cassera said. "We have seven returners who had 15 or more wins last year. We had five guys place in the top four at the districts, but only one (Mulcahy) got through to the regionals. The goal is to get as many guys to the regionals as we can."
The potential certainly seems to be there. Senior Brett Cain won 19 matches last season and will likely wrestle at 120 or 126. Another senior, Manny Rodriguez compiled a 22-10 mark at 113 and will come in at 120 or 126 this season. Sophomore P.J. Joel, 17-14 as a freshman and current freshman Nick D'Onofrio are slated to grapple at 113. Sophomore James Paskalides comes in at 106.
Luke Ciccarelli is another sophomore who wrestled impressively last season. A big second season is expected of the 15-match winner, who slots in at 126. In the weight classes above Ciccarelli are three sophomores Mark Asis (132), Dan Reynolds (138) and newcomer Sean Smiley (145).
Junior Jake Holman (152), who came on strong at the end of last season, should be able to improve on his 12 wins.
"I really think he's going to have a good year," Cassera said of Holman. "Toward the end of last season he was wrestling with a lot more confidence."
Three football players, Brian Weber, Evan Bernard and Mike Kellstrom, along with Alex Wilson form a strong contingent at the upper weight classes. Senior Weber and sophomore Tim Rohe will fill in the 160 and 170 positions. Weber won 17 matches last year. Rohe, 9-8 as a freshman, could be in for a big season.
"Weber just needs to wrestle with more confidence," Cassera said. "He and Wilson (182) are the same in that they play it too safe and when they make a miniscule mistake it hurts them. They can't wait until the end of the match to take on a guy they're better than."
Weber won 17 matches and Wilson 15. Rohe may have the biggest upside of any wrestler on the team. He has improved both his technique and his strength.
Bernard, a senior, did not wrestle for Chatham last season. He transferred in from St. Peter's Prep last spring and played for the Cougar lacrosse team. The football linebacker will wrestle at 220.
Kellstrom, a junior, won 18 matches at heavyweight (285) last season and walked onto the mat for preseason training in great shape.
"He worked hard during the offseason," Cassera said.
Kellstrom says he weighed 253 when he wrestled last season, but now comes in at a svelte 240. His opponents are likely to weigh more, but Kellstrom has improved all-around and could have an advantage with his quickness.
Chatham opens its season on Tuesday, Dec. 23 at home vs. Madison.