Monarch Wrestling Kicks Off 2003-04 Season Saturday At Home

November 20, 2003
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Nov. 20, 2003

NORFOLK, VA - The Old Dominion wrestling team will host the Old Dominion Invitational Saturday, November 22. Wrestling along with ODU will be Delaware State, the Apprentice School, Anderson College and UNC-Pembroke. Weigh-ins are at 8:00 AM and the wrestling begins at 10:00 AM.

The Monarchs will bring six returning starters to the mat for the 2003-04 season to provide the necessary experience and leadership to have a successful season and make a strong run in the Colonial Athletic Association. Alongside the veteran starters is a strong class of freshmen who should be able to make significant contributions throughout the season.

During the preseason, ODU was picked to finish 8th in the CAA. Three Monarch wrestlers are ranked in the CAA: Chris Buckner (Chesapeake, VA) is ranked 4th in the 133 weight class, Dennis Whitby (Lanoke Harbor, NJ) is ranked 5th at 149 and Derrell Lorthridge (Wilmington, DE) is ranked 2nd at Heavyweight.

John Starkes (Chesapeake, VA) at the 125 weight class, Dennis Whitby at 149, Jesse Pearce (Norfolk, VA) at 157, and Derrell Lorthridge at Heavyweight will be the nucleus of the 2003-04 team and will bring the experience to the team. Also returning to this year's team are Chris Buckner at 133 and Adam Wright (Bridgewater, VA) at 184.

"With our six returning starters," Head Coach Gray Simons says, "we should have six strong weights." Along with the experienced veterans of the team, is an outstanding recruiting class of freshmen. At 125, Andy Lacroix (Salem, NH) is a three-time New Hampshire state wrestling champion and a 2-time New England champion. Two freshmen will compete to start in the 141 weight class: Donald Motley (Chesapeake, VA) and Jason Earnhardt (Yorktown, VA). Motley made the National Team twice, the districts four times, the regionals four times and the state championship twice. Earnhardt had a 76-25 record in high school, placing first in the district and 3rd in the region in 2001 at Tabb High School.

At 149, Brian Roznowski (Yorktown, VA), who was the runner-up in the state last year, should make some contributions. There should be great depth at the 133 class, with transfer Bill Hayduk (Chattanooga, TN) along with Mike Davis (Herndon, VA) joining the Monarchs.

"We should have a good year," Simons says, "if we can keep our best guys healthy. It'll depend on how much our new starters improve at the 141, 165, 174 and 197 weight classes, how we'll do."

Along with the new wrestlers are changes to the coaching staff. Former Monarch standouts Jeff Rusak and Jamie Kelly are returning to ODU as assistant coaches, joining Carlos Eason, who is returning for his fifth season. Legendary wrestler Gray Simons returns for his 17th season as the ODU coach.

After the ODU Invitational, the Monarchs will take on the Carolina Open in Chapel Hill, NC and the Beast of the East at Newark, DE, the UNC-Greensboro-Southern Scruffle, the Virginia Duals, the Virginia State Intercollegiate Meet and the CAA Duals. These tournaments will provide early tests for ODU.

The Monarchs will compete with ACC schools NC State, Virginia and Maryland along with CAA foes George Mason, Campbell and James Madison. Other tough non-conference competition will come at the hands of Delaware State, UNC-Greensboro and VMI.

Last year's squad finished 6-10 overall and 2-5 in the CAA to finish 9th. The Monarchs' season was plagued with injuries throughout, and ODU was unable to see its full potential. With a perfect blend of seasoned veterans and exciting freshmen, this year's Monarch wrestling squad proves to be one of the CAA teams to watch this year if the team can stay healthy.

Projected Starters:
125:  John Starkes (Chesapeake, VA)
133:  Chris Buckner (Chesapeake, VA)
141:  Donald Motley (Chesapeake, VA), Jason Earnhardt (Yorktown, VA)
149:  Dennis Whitby (Lanoke Harbor, NJ)
157:  Jesse Pearce (Norfolk, VA)
165:  John Adams (Chesapeake, VA), Robby Gosnell (Warrenton, VA)
174:  Matt Ulrey (St. Mary's, MI)
184:  Adam Wright (Dayton, VA)
197:  John Dolida (Bridgewater, NJ)
HWT:  Derrell Lorthridge (Wilmington, DE)