Last year the Presidents’ Athletic Conference wrestling championship came down to the last match of the season.
Then Waynesburg senior, Jake Evans, was in need of a win for his fourth straight PAC title. Evans won, and secured the championship for Waynesburg. This year, the Yellow Jackets won’t have the luxury of having one of the greatest D-III wrestlers of all time on their side.
But for coach Ron Headlee, this is not a rebuilding year as he thinks what his team lacks is weakness.
“I think we have a good solid guy in almost every weight class,” Headlee said. “We don’t have a real weakness and once we get our line up together.”
Not only does the team have to replace one of the school’s greatest wrestlers in history but they may be doing it with a freshman. Heavyweight freshman Rocky McGeary will be competing with four other wrestlers for that number one spot, but Headlee sees the early potential for the West Allegheny product.
“[McGeary] works hard [and] is real athletic,” Headlee said. “I think we can still surprise people [in the heavyweight division] there still.”
The Jackets will most likely be looking out for returning wrestlers to fill the large shoes left by Evans, but the depth of the team may be its biggest strength.
Junior Josh Kuslock  weight class, senior Matt Lascola , senior Zach Mackall , and junior Dillion Charlton  will all be crucial for Waynesburg’s opportunity to repeat as PAC Champions, according to Headlee.
“We have a lot of guys who were in the lineup before … I think we can compete with a lot of teams,” Headlee said.
Although early season projections don’t favor Waynesburg, as rival Washington & and Jefferson has four wrestlers ranked among the best in D-III, while Waynesburg only has one. The Jackets will have one of the best wrestlers in the PAC returning in junior Caleb Baxter  weight class.
As a freshman, Baxter was 27-11 and PAC runner up at the 174 weight class, but wrestled just once last year.
“Always after coming off an injury you start him out a little slower and make sure he’s feeling good,” Headlee said. “I think he looks stronger bigger coming off the ACL surgery and doing well there.”
Headlee also mentioned that there is an opportunity for Waynesburg Central talent and freshman Coby Morris  weight class to start the 2019 season.
“I think he’s going to slide in there I really like the way he’s been working in the room,” Headlee said.
Last year for the Jackets, the freshmen class went a collective 28-86.
The only freshman wrestler with a record above .500 was Dylan Winters at 9-7. Waynesburg will start the year officially at the Washington & Jefferson Invitational, and it’ll be the Jackets first opportunity to see how the team will fair against their I-79 rivals. Headlee is not worried about how the match up may play out as the season goes on.
“Our guys work hard,” Headlee said. “We can match up with them, I just never count our guys out.”