Oct. 19, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
The Army wrestling team will determine its early season lineup on Friday when the squad hosts its annual Black-Gold scrimmage at West Point's Arvin Gymnasium. The match, which is open to the public free of charge, is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m.
All 10 weight classes will contest bouts on Friday with the winners set to be part of the team's lineup when the Black Knights officially open their 2011-12 season on Sunday, Nov. 6, with dual matches against Iowa State and Boston University.
The Black-Gold match will provide Army wrestling fans their first opportunity to see the Black Knights in action. The Black and Gold lineups were determined following a series of wrestle-offs that occurred during the course of the week.
Army second-year head coach Joe Heskett will observe his assistant coaches direct the Black and Gold squads. Assistant coaches Dan Mitcheff and Terry Madden will guide the Black team, with assistant coach Paul Young and special honorary coach COL Gene Palka leading the Gold team. Palka, who recently retired from the Army, is the former head officer representative for the wrestling program.
"Our Black and Gold match is a significant event for this team," said Heskett. "Not only will it determine our starting lineup, but most importantly it will showcase the growth and maturity of this team in comparison to last year.
"What excites me most is the fact that we have a young team and 90 percent of our starting lineup returns. We have a completely different team from a mentality and technical standpoint. The Black and Gold match will be a testament to the consistent work that these young men have committed to over the past year."
Heskett is excited about how the preseason has unfolded so far.
"Our preseason has been excellent," noted Heskett. "As a coaching staff, we focused heavily on our athletes understanding the sport. We take a very educational approach to teaching the sport. This team has been soaking up the knowledge, and it shows in their everyday improvement. I look back to this point last year; it is not a comparable situation. We are that much improved. As we know, this is a performance-based sport, so we are approaching the time where preparation meets reality. I am excited to see this team compete."
Sophomore David White and senior co-captain Travis Coffey will square off in the 125-pound bout. Both White and Coffey saw significant time in the lineup last season, and the evening's first matchup figures to be a hotly-contested one.
Junior Jordan Thome, who posted a 27-19 record with nine pins last season en route to an appearance in the NCAA Championships, will face sophomore Charlie Costanzo in the 133-pound bout. Costanzo posted a 6-8 mark in limited duty last year.
Sophomore John Belanger will face junior Connor Hanafee at 141 pounds. Belanger authored a 10-8 record last season as a reserve behind NCAA qualifier Casey Thome. Hanafee, meanwhile, finished with a 12-9 mark as a 133-pounder.
Junior Daniel Young and sophomore Ryan Bilyeu are set to match up at 149 pounds. Young burst onto the scene last season posting a 27-17 overall record and listing third on the team with 10 bonus-point victories. Bilyeu, meanwhile, wrestled to a 12-7 mark with three major decisions as a plebe last winter.
The 157-pound bout will feature senior co-captain Jimmy Rafferty and sophomore Paul Hancock. Rafferty compiled a 21-19 overall record and led the team with five major decisions last season. Hancock went 13-3 with four major decisions during a solid freshman campaign.
Sophomore Alex Smith will face either freshman Cole Gracey or junior Patrick Marchetti in the 165-pount bout. Smith, who posted a 21-16 overall record as a freshman, emerged as Army's starter at 165 pounds last year. Marchetti authored a 7-6 mark wrestling exclusively at 157 pounds last winter.
Junior Collin Wittmeyer and sophomore Ryan Tompkins will meet in the 174-pound matchup. Wittmeyer, who finished with a 16-15 overall mark last season, has been a fixture in the Black Knights' lineup each of the last two years. Tompkins, meanwhile, went 13-12 with five pins wrestling at both 165 pounds and 174 pounds.
The 184-pound bout will feature sophomore Wil Brown and senior Derek Stanley. Brown posted an 8-14 mark with four pins last season, while Stanley authored a 2-3 record.
Senior Daniel Mills will battle freshman Phil Steinberg at 197 pounds. Mills, who finished with a 10-23 overall record in 2010-11, developed into Army's starter at 197 pounds last season.
The evening's final matchup will feature senior Christian Botero and freshman Stephen Snyder in the heavyweight bout. Botero struggled to a 3-19 mark as the Black Knights' starter at heavyweight last season.
Following Friday's Black-Gold match, Army will have two more weeks to prepare for the season-opening duals versus Iowa State and Boston University. Those matches will be contested on Sunday, Nov. 6, in Boston, Mass.
Black and Gold Match Probable Lineups
125: David White vs. Travis Coffey
133: Jordan Thome vs. Charlie Costanzo
141: John Belanger vs. Connor Hanafee
149: Daniel Young vs. Ryan Bilyeu
157: Jimmy Rafferty vs. Paul Hancock
165: Alex Smith vs. Cole Gracey OR Patrick Marchetti
174: Collin Wittmeyer vs. Ryan Tompkins
184: Wil Brown vs. Derek Stanley
197: Daniel Mills vs. Phil Steinberg
285: Stephen Snyder vs. Christian Botero