Gilman second-year coach Bryan Holmes was inundated with freshmen during November tryouts for the varsity.
And he loved it.
"I think we had 15 freshmen come out, which is awesome," Holmes explained. "We have a lot of young guys. We are raw right now."
Raw or not, the future is now for some of the freshmen that stayed with the team.
Gilman had two freshmen, Luigi Mangione (106) and Matt Siems (113), and two sophomores, Ryan Khim (126) and Luke Franklin (182), to go along with seven upperclassmen in the starting lineup Dec. 19 in a 33-27 victory over heated rival Calvert Hall in Towson.
Two other freshmen — Ben Gushue (126) and Aaron Cranston (182) — are also part of the varsity.
"Our seniors wrestlers and our veterans are doing a pretty good job and our young guys are filling in the gaps pretty well," Holmes said. "They are stepping up for us."
So are some of the Greyhounds' most seasoned wrestlers.
Senior Shane Cockerille (220/285), a quarterback who will attend the University of Maryland on a football scholarship next year, won the Ray Oliver Invitational on Dec. 2 at McDonogh School. He's off to a 5-0 start.
Cockerille did win a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship last year and finished fifth at National Preps as a sophomore while winning 52 matches.
Holmes is glad Cockerille decided to grapple this winter.
"I wouldn't have blamed him if he didn't," Holmes said. "To have him come out this year, he makes such a big difference. He wants to wrestle. He is the kind of guy that says, 'Whatever the team needs, I will do that.'"
Senior Connor Webb (220) is another standout. He finished third in the MIAAs last year and fourth in the Maryland State Independent Tournament.
"He came in a lot more confidence and better physical shape after having a good football season," Gilman assistant coach Henry Franklin said. "His wrestling technique is as good as anyone and he won't get outmuscled by anyone."
Senior Jack King (113-120) is also a grappler to keep an eye on. He took fourth in the Ray Oliver.
"He can win any tournament on any given day," Holmes said. "He just has a constant motor. He just outworks everybody."
The Gilman coaching staff also expects a strong season from senior Garrett Pfeifer (182), who placed fifth in the MIAAs and seventh in the state tournament.
Matt Slodzinski (195), Alex Puthumana (120), Zane Macfarlane (132), Blake Benfield (145), brothers John (152) and Sam Wancowicz (160), Teddy Swindell (170), Jahee Jackson (285) and Sheldon Johnson (285) also hope to make their presence felt.
After opening the MIAA season with a 63-12 loss to John Carroll on Dec. 12, the Greyhounds rebounded to beat Calvert Hall.
The Gilman-Calvert Hall match was decided in the final bout when Webb recorded a pin in 21 seconds to give his team the win.
"Having Connor being a senior captain and taking our last match," Holmes said. "I wouldn't have it any other way. To have him finish off the match was perfect."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun