The Coast Guard Academy wrestling program earned a Top 20 national ranking last season, climbing as high as No. 14, and posted a dual meet record of 11-5. This is the third straight winning season for the Bears. This season will have a multitude of new comers in the line up after the graduation of seven seniors.
Head coach Kevin Bratland, in his fourth season is not concerned with the youth entering the season.
“We are young, but as long as we get our culture right and we get everyone on the same page as far as development it’s a good thing,” said Bratland. “If they develop where I want them to this year, we are going to be competing at a high level immediately.” Bratland likens this team to his first season at Coast Guard, the 2014-15 season, where a lot of young guys were in the starting lineup. It seemed to work out pretty well then and he is optimistic they can repeat that.
Freshman Parker Brunkala will start at 125 pounds for the Bears this season while sophomore Owen McClave, who was 13-4 with a pair of pins last season and is ranked second in the New England preseason rankings, is back at 133 pounds. Freshman JD FitzPatrick will also compete at 133 pounds for the Bears. The Bears will also have new faces at both 141 and 149 pounds. Freshmen Matt McGowan and Steve Pangelinan will battle at 141 while junior Adam Wilhelm, who was 4-6 last season with three pins, along with freshmen Marco Dominguez and Patrick Moynihan will compete at 149.
Coast Guard is rock solid at 157 and 165 lead by co-captains senior Chris Sullivan and junior Nick Remke. Sullivan, was 29-7 last season with six pins at 157 and placed fourth at the NCAA Division III Northeast Regional for the second straight season. He was nationally ranked throughout the season and has a career record of 78-31 at the Academy and is ranked first in the New England preseason rankings. The 157 pounds weight class has been among the toughest in the nation with several nationally ranked wrestlers. Also wrestling at 157 for the Bears will be junior Christian Gosch, who was 15-7 with six pins last season, as well as freshman Alex Frometa.
Remke, who was 29-8 with four pins last season, placed fifth at the NCAA Division III Northeast Regional and fourth at the prestigious All-Academy Championships at 165 is back. He enters the season ranked first in New England as well as 10th nationally by the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA). Junior Nick Jabs will also wrestle at 165 for the Bears.
Sophomore A.J. Aeberli, who was 16-5 last season with two pins, along with classmate Nick Moreno (12-7, six pins) will compete at 174 this season. Sophomores Jeremy Berson (4-6 last season) and Kayne Robert (3-7 with three pins) along with freshman Jessup Pawelczyk will compete at 184. Sophomore George McBurney is expected to be the guy at 197 pounds for the Bears while freshman Thomas Sidener will compete at 197. Sophomore Patrick Irwin, who was 8-11 with two pins last season, is the front runner at heavyweight.
A total of six football players will look to be in the mix after their season ends. Freshman Jonathan Wagner at either 184, junior Tommy Jones and senior Logan Sullivan at either 197 or heavyweight as well as freshman Tyler Clemmer, sophomore Colton Rausch and senior Cory Tomasetti at heavyweight.
“We have some healthy competition at several weight classes and that is a good thing. We have looked good in the preseason, the guys are battling every day. It’s going to be different guys, with the same goal,” said Bratland.