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Sports Article
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Walters Excited for Upcoming Season as First-Year Head Wrestling Coach
Written by Jake Hallman Staff Writer

Upper Perk senior Dustin Steffenino, right, returns after an eighth-place showing at states at 113 pounds last season, in which he compiled a 33-10 record.

                It didn't take Sam Walters very long to pinpoint the key linchpins in the lineup for the 2014-15 wrestling program.

                Though Walters is in his first year as Upper Perkiomen's head coach, he's had plenty of time on the staff, and ample time in the offseason to identity who he expects big things from this winter.

                That aforementioned crew includes a trio of seniors in Dustin Steffenino, Eric Miller and Trevor Weeks. Steffenino is off an eighth-place showing at states at 113 last season, in which he compiled a 33-10 record. Miller (126) amassed a 31-8 mark in 2013-14 to go along with a fourth-place showing at districts. Weeks, also a district qualifier at 160, finished 18-8.

                "Each of them had strong junior years capped off with Dustin finishing eighth in the state at 113," Walters said. "I expect big things from them again this year."

                Beyond the seniors, Walters also said he's excited about a group that includes Noah Folk (126), Mike Lockhoff (152) and Mahlon Schaffer (285), who are all contributors from last season. Walters said that trio is starting to come into their own and are expected to compete at a higher level this season. Though young, Walters said he's also looking at big things from the freshman tandem of Jared Kuhns and Jarek Svanson, both of whom are at 106.

                Other wrestlers expected to play a large hand in the season include the likes of freshmen Jake Buck (113) and Ryan Rossiter (120), Dillyn Lockhoff (126), Levi Homan (132), Jake Folk (138), Mark Saucedo (145), Mickey Hopkins (160), Mike Felix (170), Owen Leister (182), Billy Brower Jr. (195) and Mike Modugno (220). The returning talent to the Tribe's roster represents nearly 72 percent of the individual bouts the team won in 2013-14.

                As a team, Upper Perk is looking to build on an 8-12 overall record that saw them finish 5-4 in the Pioneer Athletic Conference. The Indians took fifth place at the PAC-10 tourney last season, and went on to qualify for the District 1 Duals Tournament.

                The Indians' season will get under way Saturday, Dec. 6 as the team will take part in the Battle in Bethlehem against Freedom, LaSalle and Neshaminy. Upper Perk will travel to Henry Lackey High School in Maryland the following week to compete at the Glenn Jones Charger Classic, with the  league season opening up at Pottstown on Wednesday, Dec. 17.

                Walters, a 2006 Upper Perk alum and 100-match winner, has been a member of previous head coach Tom Hontz's staff since 2010. Hontz, now the head football coach of the Indians, was the head man on the mats for 24 years, amassing a 341-184-1 dual match record and nine PAC-10 titles as part of a storied career.

                "The transition to me becoming the head coach has been a smooth one," Walters said. "Everyone knows I have big shoes to fill, but I'm up for the challenge and I won't be taking it on alone."

                Walters will be helped by assistants Chris Sheetz and Brent Fiorito, both Upper Perk grads who won state gold, as well as Dustin Kern, who was a part of the 2006 state championship team.

                "I believe we have the best coaching staff in the area, as well as a great group of kids to work with. Together, I believe we will be successful for years to come."






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