2002-2003 Wrestling Outlook
The Citadel wrestling team looks to improve on its best season since the 1967 Southern Conference Championship. The Bulldogs posted 10 wins last season and was highlighted by a third place finish in the league, a handful of 20 match winners and a NCAA qualifier.
During the last few years, The Citadel wrestling program has gone beyond what most people imagined.
“We are going to continue to improve and see how far we can climb,” states coach Rob Hjerling. “I really don’t want to say what our ultimate goal is because there is no need to set any limitations on this program. We just want to reach our full potential.”
As the Bulldogs look forward to 2002-03, there are ample reasons for excitement. Coach Hjerling’s squad returns seven starters and 12 letterwinners from last year. Off-season recruiting has 10 grapplers challenging at nearly every weight class for a starting role.
“In most of our weight classes, we’ve created enough competition that if someone isn’t reaching their full potential, we are in a situation where we have two or three individuals to provide competition and drive that person or to step in,” said Hjerling.
On a promising note, the Bulldogs, who are likely to be picked among the SoCon’s upper echelon, have only three seniors on this year’s squad, brothers Troy and Vince Bartges, and Andrew Norris.
“We are still a young team, and we have several individuals who have the potential to become All-Americans,” stated Hjerling. “The wrestlers returning and the freshmen coming in have shown an attitude, work ethic and chemistry in the wrestling room unlike any other year.”
Of the returning starters, Sean Markey (133 pounds) placed second in the SoCon, Mike Martinez placed fourth at 141, while Jordan Everett and Billy Linane placed second at 197 and heavyweight, respectively. Twenty-five wrestlers make up this squad that has only 10 openings to fill.
Names to watch at the 125-pound weight class include Ryan McClester, Brad Ragan and Ivan Enriquez.
“The 125-pound class was a productive weight class for us last year, but we will be even more competitive,” Hjerling added. “McClester brings a lot of experience for a sophomore and will be tough to beat, and Ragan and Enriquez add some serious depth.”
At the 133-pound weight class, Sean Markey will be pushed by freshman Mauro Bria.
“Markey has the ability and work ethic to become an All-American and did a great job last year going toe-to-toe with some of the best wrestlers in the country,” the coach commented. “This year he wants to make a statement at the NCAA tournament.”
Mike Martinez will battle with Nolan Roggenkamp and Ty Christensen for starting time at the 141-pound weight class.
“We struggled most of the year at 141, but Martinez made an adjustment at the end of the year,” said Hjerling. “With his experience, we want 141 to be a weight class we can contend in. We like the ability of Roggenkamp and Christensen, but we need someone to step up and take control.”
Vince Bartges and freshman Dan Thompson will handle the majority of the duties at the 149-pound class.
“At this weight class we have the experience of Bartges and talent of Thompson,” remarked coach. “Between the two, one of these guys should be at the NCAA Championships this year.”
Freshman Travis Piccard and Derek Neitz will be battling for the 157-pound duties.
“This is the only weight class where we are certain a true freshman will be competing,” he continued. “Piccard will have an immediate impact. He works to improve in all aspects every day and will do whatever it takes to be an All-American.”
Hjerling looks for James Rose to represent the Bulldogs at the 165-pound weight class. This weight class was a question mark for the Bulldogs at the beginning of the season, but Hjerling feels Rose’s commitment to go to 165, along with his work ethic, should make them solid.
Keith Clifton is expected be the Bulldogs’ man at 174-pounds.
“Clifton is coming off a good red shirt year,” stated Hjerling. “He is the most anxious to go out there and prove to himself that all of the work he’s done over the last two years will pay off. We have very high expectations at this weight.”
At 184-pounds, John Bohren will be challenged by freshman John Dickerson.
“Bohren was one of the most improved wrestlers on the team last year and we’re looking for him to advance to another level,” said the coach. “Dickerson will be competitive and is looking to become a starter as well. The competition should make us strong at that weight class.
Hjerling said that Jordan Everett and Troy Bartges will work at the 197-pound weight class. Everett was very close to getting to the NCAA Championships last year and that will be his motivation this year. Everett doesn’t want to get close again. However, Bartges is a senior and will be doing whatever it takes to get this spot.
The coach also feels that Billy Linane will handle heavyweight duties.
“As a freshman, Linane started strong and finished even stronger,” said Hjerling. “He has the ability to become an All-American, especially with the increase in strength and size over the off-season.”
“With our schedule, each individual will have the opportunity to compete against some of the best wrestlers in the country,” says Hjerling. “This may provide an opportunity to get themselves a national ranking and prepare them for the NCAA Championships.”
“Our goal is not to win the Southern Conference. Our goal is to get into the Top-25 and then to continue from there,” stated Hjerling. “If we reach our goal as a team, a SoCon Championship will just be a part of the picture.”
Those challenges will be no easy task. Until the new year, the Bulldogs have scheduled several competitive tournaments to acclimate the team to wrestling nationally ranked caliber competition.
The Citadel opens at the West Virginia Open on November 16. Other major tournaments include the Navy Classic, the “Beast of the East” and the All-Academy Championships.
2002-2003 WRESTLING SCHEDULE
November 16 at WVU Open Morgantown, WV All Day
November 23 at Navy Classic Annapolis, MD All Day
November 30 at UNC Open Chapel Hill, NC All Day
December 8 at Army Quad West Point, NY 1:00 p.m.
American - Army - Franklin & Marshall - The Citadel
December 20 at Beast of the East Wilmington, DE All Day
January 8 Campbell Charleston, SC 6:00 p.m.
January 11 at NC State Duals Raleigh, NC 12:00 p.m.
Binghamton - Duke - NC State - The Citadel
January 14 Carson-Newman Charleston, SC 7:00 p.m.
January 17 at App. State * Boone, NC 4:00 p.m.
January 22 vs. Anderson @ Dutch Fork HS 6:00 p.m.
January 25 at Davidson* Davidson, NC 12:00 p.m.
February 1 at All Academy New London, CT All Day
February 8 at UT-Chattanooga Chattanooga, TN 7:00 p.m.
February 15 VMI* Charleston, SC 4:30 p.m.
February 23 UNC-Greensboro* Charleston, SC 2:00 p.m.
February 25 Gardner-Webb Charleston, SC 7:00 p.m.
March 8 at So Con Championships Boone, NC All Day
March 20-22 at NCAA Championships Kansas City, MO All Day