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STAFF PHOTOS/COLLEEN MCALEER Max, left, and Michael Bluhm face off in a recent practice under the watchful eye of assistant coach Mike Bluhm.

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Cole Henry and Deegan Ross spar in a battle of the lighter weights.

Lackawanna Trail head wrestling coach Keith Youtz is confident in his team this year.

“We should have a wrestler at each weight class,” said the coach. “And our schedule is very good this year. We are going to individual tournaments in district 4, district 11 and district 3.”

Youtz, who is in his 21st year at head coach, will look to the experience of the three seniors, as well as his returning matmen, to help lead the young squad of Lions on the mats.

Sophomore Michael Bluhm emerged as a threat last year as a freshman, punching his ticket to regionals.

“Everyone works together. Most of our guys have been together since the elementary program. Every practice we just try and make each other better, and we are looking forward to doing what’s best for the team,” said the sophomore.

“We are going to be very young this season, with most of the team regarded as up-and-coming athletes,” said Youtz.

The coach, who was also an assistant for 12 years, added, “Last season was disappointing as a team. We could have won the league with one single match win. Individually, we had Michael Bluhm win districts and placed fifth at regionals. We had a few other members place at districts.”

Bluhm, though, is as calm as can be entering his sophomore season. He offered that his father, who is also the assistant coach, told him to forget about last year, and this year only worry about one match at a time.

Even though the Lions are young, Youtz feels the team should be the favorite to win the league.

“Every league dual is important to me and my team this year,” said Bluhm. “Our team hasn’t won a Lackawanna League Championship in 20 years so it is our main goal this year to win it.”

At practices, Trail’s grapplers are concentrating on endurance, strength, and wrestling technically.

And though the team won’t be full until the football players return from their continued quest for state gold, Youtz and assistant coach Mike Bluhm are ready to get to work.

“We trained a few weeks before a summer wrestling camp in Kutztown,” said Youtz.

The coaches agree, however, that the upper weights will need more experience, but are hoping to get some regional qualifiers and maybe even a state qualifier.

Youtz wants, overall, the team to understand that being positive, having a good attitude, and working to the best of their ability will get them everything they want.

Bluhm summarized, “Our team has a lot of talent this year and we are excited to compete. All of my teammates and ready to come together and win as a team

Roster: Seniors Cullen Ratchford, Nick Maskaly, and Tynell Bracero. Juniors Dalton Klinges, Dalton Deacon, and Kyle Austin. Sophomores Cole Henry, Michael Bluhm, Kody Creswell, Tyler Rozanski, Mason Zajac, and Cole Choplosky. Freshmen Max Bluhm, Deegan Ross, Ethan Lee, Robbie Schneider, Jonah Houser, and Seth Ross.

Schedule: Dec. 6 and 7 DKI Tournament at Bloomsburg; Dec. 11 vs. Elk Lake; Dec. 14 League Tournament at Wallenpaupack; Dec. 18 at Mountain View; Dec. 27 and 28 Trojan War Tournament at Chambersburg; Jan. 4 Anthracite Duals at Panther Valley; Jan. 8 at Scranton Prep; Jan. 11 hosting Trail Tournament; Jan. 15 at Montrose; Jan. 26 vs. Blue Ridge; Jan. 22 vs. Western Wayne; Jan. 24 and 25 Coal Cracker Tournament at Panther Valley.