Ilaria optimistic heading into opening wrestling meet

Ilaria optimistic heading into opening wrestling meet

KINGS POINT, N.Y. -- Coming off a memorable and successful year, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy wrestling team starts its season on the road at the East Stroudsburg Invitational in Pennsylvania at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Earning its fourth consecutive Centennial Conference Championship, finishing eight in the nation among Division III schools and sending six wrestlers to the NCAA championship tournament certainly has left head coach Greg Ilaria in an optimistic mood.

"I am very excited about the upcoming wrestling season," he said. "We enter the 2011-2012 year with a good mix of young talent and seasoned veterans who are ready to make a run at becoming All-Americans. We have set high goals and continue to strive to establish our program as one of the top wrestling programs in the country."

The Mariners graduated are three talented wrestlers who left their mark in Merchant Marine and Division III wrestling.

Vincent Renaut and Judd Connell brought home All-American honors and Daniel Twito became the second national champion in USMMA wrestling history by winning the 157-lb. championship.

This is a list of the Mariners' projected starters:

125 – Pat Graham (2012) – A high school state champion from North Carolina, he spent three years behind All American Jordan Alfaro.

133 – Mike Milanese (2015) - Suffolk County place winner 150 high school victories.

141 – James Beshada (2012) - 73-31 career record, two-time NCAA qualifier, 2011 conference runner-up.

-- Buddy Watson (2015) - three-time Colorado state finalist, 2010 champion with a 155-15 high school record.

149 – Martin Bell (2012) - 40-26 career record, 2011 NCAA qualifier.

-- Nic Watson (2014) - Florida state runner up.

157 – Brandon Yeik (2015) - three-time Washington state finalist, two-time champ, 113–6 high school record.

-- Jake Walker (2014) - four-time Kansas state place winner.

165 – Connar Zimmerman (2015) - two-time Maryland state finalist, 2011 champion, 127–31 high school record.

-- Josh Miller (2014) - two-time Wyoming state champion.

174 – Kyle Diesel (2015) – New York state runner-up, 178-35 high school record.

-- Sam Fry (2014) - Michigan state place winner.

184 – Erik Schott (2012) - 65-33 Career record, two-time conference runner-up, third-place conference finish in 2011 at 197, 21– 3 record in 2011 at 184.

-- Ryan Smith (2014) – New Jersey state place winner

197 – Tyler Russell (2014) – two-time Maine state champ (9-8 last season, TCNJ freshman/sophomore Open champion, York Invitational fourth place)

Heavyweight - Connan Ingram (2012) - New York state qualifier high school

Joe Goetschis (2012)

Erik Schott (184)