Darien wrestling team looks to build program
While the Blue Wave wrestling team may state it is in a re-building phase, the determination that is evident in the wrestling room during preseason practices points to a team ready to be taken seriously in the FCIAC and beyond.
In last year's campaign, Darien posted a disappointing 1-9 record in the FCIAC and feels that it can only go up from there.
"If we go .500 this season, that would be great based on the team we have," said coach Joe Vano, who kicks off his 19th year at the helm. "But we are a young team, and we have to work hard."
With only two wrestlers lost to graduation and the nucleus from last year coming back, optimism abounds. In 2010 the Wave posted 16 wins, so success is not a foreign concept to this program.
Additionally, Darien has a decent chance to make an early statement this season when it faces Bridgeport Central in the opener on Dec. 18. The Hilltoppers also struggled last season, going 1-7 in the FCIAC.
One of the key losses from last year was Patrick Daigle, an FCIAC Honorable Mention who wrestled in the 138 weight class.
"This is a building year for us," Appleby said. "But we have passionate wrestlers who are ready to go. Hopefully, we will see some good wins out of the kids who returned from last year."
Perhaps the biggest hurdle facing the team is its numbers. At 13 members, the squad is small and cannot compete in all the weight classes.
"Right now kids are bunched up in five or six weight classes, but once the season goes on and the kids get down to the right weight class, we hope to fill about 10 weight classes," Vano said.
Potential help is on the way, though. The team hopes that once the football season concludes, some of those players will fill the wrestling roster.
"We don't know how many football players we are going to get, but once the season is over we will get a better tell," Vano said.
As far as key matchups, the team has circled the New Canaan match in red on its calendar.
"We beat them for the first time a couple years ago, but lost to them last year," Hill said. "We would love to go back and beat them again to finish off our career here."
"No one major strength has yet emerged," Ziga said. "But anyone could come up and get a huge win at any point in time. Our team has the drive they need to succeed, and that's what is really important."