This spring's award program honored over 25 student-athletes for their athletic excellence.
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Varsity Season Record: 7-7
Captains: Anthony Cecchini ’17, Nels Lund ’17, Andrew McCaffrey ’17
Highlights: Dual meet wins against longtime rivals Hawken School, University School and Kiski Prep.
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Wrestler: Jayden Demmy ’17; Most Improved Wrestlers: James Zhang ’18 and Fangzhou (John) Qiu ’18; Coaches Award: Nels Lund ’17 and Andrew McCaffrey ’17
Under Head Coach John Gordon’s second year of leadership, the 2016–17 wrestling team continued to build momentum. Wrestling is one of the school’s longstanding and celebrated athletic programs. Our youthful roster of 28 grapplers finished the season with a 7-7 record. Highlights included victories against historic rivals Hawken School, University School and Kiski Prep.
This year, the team captains were hardworking seniors Andrew McCaffrey, Nels Lund and Anthony Cecchini, and all three helped lead the team through a more competitive schedule than in years past, participating in competitive events such as the Buckley Duals at Haverford School, The Ziegler Duals at Kiski, The Melee on the Metro in D.C., The Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Tournament, and, of course, the National Prep Tournament at Lehigh.
“From a performance standpoint, the wrestlers chalking up the most victories were freshman Sammy Toggas, competing at the 132-pound weight class, and post-graduate Jayden Demmy, both of whom exceeded the fifteen win mark,” said Gordon. They also helped set the tone in the practice room guiding a young roster about the necessary pace and intensity for training and competition.
To conclude the season, the team traveled to Malvern Prep in the Philadelphia area to compete in the Pennsylvania Independent School State Tournament, which serves as WRA’s National Prep Qualifier. The top six place winners at that event would move on on to Lehigh University the following weekend to compete for All American honors. WRA had two competitors move on — Toggas and Demmy.
“Sammy competed hard and represented the school well,” said Gordon. “Jayden advanced to the medal round, losing a hard fought 3-2 heartbreaker in a match that could have qualified him as a National Prep All-American.
In the end, the 2017 wrestling season was a great success, showing commitment, spirit, determination and athletic ability on the mats. Everyone on the roster developed as wrestlers and disciplined young men during the course of the season.
“Our wrestlers represented themselves and the school well,” said Gordon. “The roster size grew, the student-athletes improved consistently through the season and with 20 underclassmen participating we'll strive to continue building momentum and visibility for the program in the days ahead.”
Varsity Season Record: 8-3
Captains: Marcos Lopez ’16, George Theophilos ’16 and Billy Walsh ’16
Highlights: The victories against the likes of long time rivals Hawken Upper School, University School, Columbus Academy and Kiski School.
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Player: Billy Walsh ’16; Most Improved Player: Nels Lund ’17; Coaches Award: Andrew McCaffrey ’17
The 2015–16 wrestling season marked the beginning of a new era for the wrestling program with the appointment of John Gordon as the new head coach. For the wrestlers, this meant a new leader at the helm, one whom they were completely unfamiliar with and one with a new system of attack and a new training concept.
As the season started in early November, the group embraced a commitment to getting one percent better every day — using the slogan of “1P” on their apparel to reinforce the pursuit of continuous improvement.
With a roster of 26 strong student-athletes, the team finished the season with an 8-3 dual meet record that included season highlight wins over historic rivals Hawken Upper School, University School, Columbus Academy and Kiski School. According to Gordon, these memorable wins were the result of the wrestlers’ adherence to a team message — that preparation, hard work and discipline develops wrestlers who will be ready when it is their time to compete.
“When you're armed with a specific attack and compete hard for six minutes good things happen, and that’s what I tried to teach them,” said Gordon. “We were a young and inexperienced team that found reasonable success and built momentum for seasons ahead. “
Three team members were recognized with awards to conclude the season. Andrew McCaffrey ’17 claimed the Coach's Award, Nels Lund ’17 received the Most Improved Award and captain Billy Walsh ’16 was recognized as the team's most valuable wrestler. In addition to these three accomplished athletes, Anthony Cecchini ’17 and Ayokanmi Aloko ’16 both placed at the Pennsylvania Independent School State tournament in late February.
“It was good to have Pioneer wrestlers on the podium to conclude the season,” said Gordon.
In preparation for 2017, the returning wrestlers will strength-train and continue to work on technique for next season.
“Thank you to the seniors for their leadership and legacy,” said Gordon. “I look forward to next season with pride and excitement.”