What ifs are present in sports all of the time.
The most common examples in sports are as follows:
– What if the Red Sox didn’t sell Babe Ruth for $125,000?
– What if Mario Lemieux wasn’t diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease?
– What if Derrick Rose didn’t tear his ACL?
– What if Barry Sanders didn’t retire early?
I don’t mean to go all “30 for 30” for you in this column, but what if I told you there are major what ifs surrounding this Waynesburg University wrestling team. Well, I am about to tell you.
The wrestling team was ranked high in the country in the preseason. The team that was ranked looks completely different than the team seen on the mat in its only match this season.
The one noticeable weakness on this team is the lack of depth. The reason why the team lacks depth is because of many key contributors discontinuing with the sport or leaving Waynesburg University for one reason or another.
This article won’t mention Ken Burrs or Shaun Wilson even though they still have NCAA eligibility remaining. It will touch on the Yellow Jacket wrestlers who probably would still be on the team if they served four straight years at Waynesburg.
Let’s start off with the lighter weight classes and work our way up as we go.
Dylan Williams was a Presidents’ Athletic Conference champion and placed 8th at regionals his redshirt freshman season. Williams was injured last season and simply didn’t enjoy competing in the sport any more.
Williams could have potentially been a national qualifier throughout his final few seasons if he was healthy last season as well as continuing to build and improve on his 8th place finish at regionals.
Williams would’ve been a solid opener for his entire duration at Waynesburg instead of just for about a season. This season, Noah Grossnickle dropped down from 133 to try and fill the void that Williams left at 125.
Josh Kuslock placed 4th at regionals both his freshman and sophomore year. Last season he injured his shoulder which held him out of the postseason.
Kuslock had the potential to be an All-American as he was listed in the rankings for D3wrestle.com at times. Kuslock emerged as a hammer in the second half of his sophomore season and was a force to be reckoned with.
Whether you slot Kuslock in 133 or 141 for his senior season, he would’ve made Waynesburg’s lineup look more like the team that was ranked to start the season.
Jace Guy made great leaps and strides towards the end of his freshman season last year.
Guy gave Washington and Jefferson’s Michael Heinl, who was also a national qualifier, a battle in the PAC championship bout at 149.
Guy was a highly touted and successful recruit out of Southern Garrett high school. He would’ve presumably started at 149 if he did not leave Waynesburg University.
I could’ve seen Guy as a PAC champion and a regional placer in a normal season. Guy had the potential to become an All-American as well.
Caleb Baxter came on to the scene in a major way his freshman season by winning his first collegiate tournament. Baxter later finished 2nd at the PAC tournament that same year.
Baxter tore his ACL his sophomore year and injured his shoulder last season. Baxter decided to not compete this season, but if he did decide otherwise, he would be starting at 174.
Baxter, like his other former teammates, had the potential to become a regional placer and potentially a national qualifier.
174 is noticeably Waynesburg’s biggest weakness in the lineup, but Baxter could’ve turned that into a strength.
Tony Welsh was a late season transfer two years ago from West Virginia University and was one of the most talented wrestlers on a team that featured Jake Evans and Ken Burrs. Welsh was listed as a redshirt sophomore on the waynesburgsports.com.
It may be a bold statement, but Welsh could’ve been standing on top of the podium at nationals had he stayed at Waynesburg his next two years. Welsh could’ve filled in at 184.
Michael Mahon had considerable potential in his two years as a Jackets wrestler. Mahon would’ve been a place winner in the PAC throughout his career.
He could’ve been a starter this season at 197. Mahon and Luke Lavanway would’ve been solid practice partners and they could’ve built off of each other.
This team could’ve placed highly in nationals if you add all of the above mentioned to Waynesburg’s lineup in a normal season.
Heck, what if I stayed on the team?
I guess I wouldn’t have written this article then.