Young Gilman wrestlers look for steady improvement

Gilman wrestling coach Bryn Holmes liked the progress his team made last season. The Greyhounds took a step forward in their competitiveness in dual meets and had a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champion in Shane Cockerille.

Holmes, a third-year coach, loved the leadership and on-mat skills of Cockerille, Connor Webb, Jack King and Zane Macfarlane.

"I graduated four seniors who were solid guys," Holmes said. "It's tough to replace guys like that. We have a lot of young and inexperienced guys out there. I am really just looking to get them some experience."

Gilman had four sophomores — Matt Siems (126 pounds), Ben Gushue (132), Tabb Carneal (160) and Aaron Cranston (195) — and two freshmen — Drew Franklin (113) and Braedan Alevizatos (120) — in the starting lineup for its season opener against Archbishop Curley on Dec. 4.

It's Holmes' youngest team in three years and he knows his Greyhounds are likely to improve as the season progresses.

He will rely on his top senior, 220-pounder Garrett Pfeifer, to help bring along the younger wrestlers and show the type of leadership Gilman had last year.

Pfeifer, who is one of eight seniors on the roster, says he's up to the challenge. The other seniors include Alex Puthumana (126), Blake Benfield (152), Sam Wancowicz (170), Ty Washbum (170), Patrick Riorda (170), Teddy Swindell (182) and Matthew Slodzinski (195).

"I have been wrestling since I was 5," Pfeifer said. "It's my senior year and I thought I would step up and be a leader and teach a lot of the young guys. We have a lot of young guys that show promise."

Holmes sess that promise in Pfeifer. He finished fourth in the MIAA tournament and the Maryland Independent Schools Tournament last year while going 30-7.

"He's determined as a senior this year, knowing it's his last run," Holmes said. "He's really been a leader in the wrestling room."

Pfeifer skipped playing football this fall so he could concentrate on wrestling.

"I am focused more on wrestling than ever," he said. "I really wanted to have a great senior year. I have been working out every single day, getting stronger and faster."

Among the younger wrestlers, Holmes and Gilman assistant coach Henry Franklin have been particularly impressed with Alevizatos.

No underclassmen is likely to have as much impact on the Greyhounds as the freshman, who has honed his skills competing for the North Baltimore Wrestling Club and Kolat Wrestling Club.

"You don't get freshmen like him too often," Franklin said. "He could become one of the better freshmen in the state because he has wrestled for a long time. It doesn't seem like he can get enough wrestling."

Alevizatos was one of the bright spots in the 57-18 loss to Curley in Roland Park.

Alevizatos (120) and Siems (126) won decisions and Pfeifer (220) and junior Ryan Khim (138) had pins to account for Gilman's points.

"We have a couple of guys trying to lose weight and fill some slots," Pfeifer said. "After a week or so, I think we will have a full roster and be stronger than we showed tonight."

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