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Sports

Copley wrestling team keyed by ‘youth and athleticism’ this season

12/12/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

COPLEY — Head coach Jim Dies described this year’s Copley High School wrestling team as “a high energy, high-effort, never-give-up group with a desire to improve.”

Last season, Copley finished 3-10 overall and placed fifth in the Suburban League. The team lost seven seniors to graduation following the season.

This season, Dies said, the steam’s strength is “youth and athleticism.”

“We have four seniors and a few quality juniors, but roughly half of our starting lineup are freshmen and sophomores,” he said. “We need to get more mat time. I’m confident this group will improve as the season goes on. They need to be in close battles to learn and improve.”

According to Dies, the team features a number of underclassmen who should stand out this season.

“Arman Samouk (220 pounds) is a very hard worker that has put considerable time in — even wrestling in Bosnia while on vacation. Freshman Antwon Pugh (120 pounds) was a junior high state champ a year ago and has a high wrestling IQ and a ton of confidence. Freshman Connor Knabe (170 pounds) is a powerful athlete that was 4-1 with four pins in his opening high school varsity event,” the coach said. “Sophomore Brandon Grimes (132 pounds) put the most time into his offseason training and has returned this year as an entirely different wrestler. The work he put in has made him extremely confident and prepared for a breakout season.”

The seniors on this year’s team are 106-pounder Tanmay Shah, 152-pounder Brad Powell, 160-pounder DJ Heap and 170-pounder Joe Rodriguez.

“At 106 pounds, Tanmay Shah is a rarity, a senior lightweight. He opened his season 5-0 and was team MVP at our home tournament Dec. 7,” Dies said. “Brad Powell is a returning district qualifier, DJ Heap was a Suburban League runner-up a year ago and Joe Rodriguez is an outstanding athlete that is finally getting an opportunity to put together a full complete season.”

Another key wrestler for Copley this year is heavyweight junior Chris Burke, who is a returning district qualifier.

“He is undersized, but quick and talented,” the coach said. “He will win a ton of matches this season.”

Copley opened the season with the Briggs dual meet tournament Dec. 7.

“We defeated Maple Heights and Norwalk, and lost to tough Brunswick, Carrollton and Hudson teams,” Dies stated. “I was proud of our effort and I’m confident our team will improve throughout the season.”

Dies — whose coaching staff is comprised of Jake Sexton, Jeremy Dombrady, Ben Soltis and Bob Dies — said this year’s squad has the talent and the ability to put together a solid season.

“We need to finish in the top half of the always difficult Suburban League, and I’d like to push our kids to districts and at least match our number of five district qualifiers,” he said. “We fell short of a state qualifier last year, but a realistic goal for us this season is to qualify multiple kids to Columbus.”

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