What was considered to be a loaded Edgemont team last season may be even more stacked this year. The majority of the Panthers’ big pieces are back, and now one year better, which has brought on high expectations. After finishing second in Division 2 last season, the focus is clear as day.
“My individual goals have been the same since I’ve been in high school – dominate my way through the season and win that state title,” two-time state runner-up Trey Aslanian said. “It’s a little this year because I think there’s added pressure in terms of the team. I think there’s a lot more pressure to the win team title this year and do well at the state tournament, just because I’ve been wrestling with these kids since the peewees, and with my brothers for as long as I can remember. This is the last time we’ll on a team together, so it’s important that we come together and get it done.”
There’s no tip-toeing around the elephant in the room. Barring injuries, Edgemont seems to be more talented and experienced than any other D2 team – except for one. Two-time defending section champ Nanuet has stood in the Panthers’ way in recent seasons, and the Golden Knights bring back pretty much everyone.
That means that Edgemont will have to turn it up a notch to capture that elusive team title.
“We’re returning four or five sectional runner ups, and including Trey and Tyler (Aslanian), two section champions,” senior Jack McCormack said. “That kind of depth and that kind of ability to place coming back is really going to be very beneficial for us. That’s not to say that Nanuet doesn’t have that too, because we know that they have a solid team. They have a lot of depth and experience returning, and so do other teams. Put Valley, Irvington – they’re all good. We’re working every day and pushing ourselves because we do have that goal to reach. When you’re the underdog and you’re not at the top yet, you have that much more fire and desire to make it to the top.”
• Of course, Trey is and has been the biggest name in the room for quite some time. He’s been the Panthers’ sure bet for a section title each year, but the way that last season ended has him hungrier than ever. After taking second in the state as a sophomore, the prevailing thought was that Aslanian would get his state title last year as a junior. But after being upset in last season’s state final, he spoke about translating all of his preparation (and we know Trey is one of the hardest working wrestlers in the section) into success in the moment. “That’s what fuels you,” he said. “Those losses will take you to the next level. Obviously, it was not only my goal, but my expectation that I was going to win last year. I thought I put the work in, and sometimes you do put the work in, you just have to be the best for those six minutes. And I wasn’t the best for those six minutes.”
• Trey said that he expects to wrestle at 120 pounds this season, and talked about the work he put in during the offseason. “I thought the main thing to improve on was being more aggressive – getting to my attacks,” he said. “I think it’s more of an offensive mindset that I needed to work on. My coaches really engrained that in my head in the offseason, and I think I improved a lot in that area.”
• Trey also informed me that he has committed to wrestle at Princeton. “I started thinking about it last year,” he said. “During the summer, I got contacted by a bunch of colleges and I narrowed it down to Harvard, Penn and Princeton. All three are obviously academically pretty good, which is what I was looking for. What really put Princeton over the top was that I think they have the best coaching staff in the country, especially for me. They have Joe Dubuque, a two-time national champ who they just hired over the summer as their assistant. He’s a little guy, so I think he can really take me to that next level.”
• Along with Trey, Edgemont’s other returning section champ is his younger brother, Tyler. Tyler, a junior, captured his first title last season at 99 pounds, but that spot will now be occupied by another Aslanian, freshman Kyle Aslanian. Tyler is expected to end up at 106, so three of the first four spots in the Panthers’ lineup should belong to the Aslanian family. “I’ve been at it for awhile, kind of up there in the state,” Trey said. “It’s going to be exciting to see Tyler and Kyle mixed up with the best in the state this year. Tyler has gotten a lot better, but Kyle is going to be a full sized 99-pounder. He’s probably the most athletic and toughest out of the three of us. This is the first year where he really wrestled in the offseason. He went 100 percent and didn’t take a day off.”
• What really makes Edgemont so promising from a team standpoint is all of the potential behind the Aslanians. The Panthers return four section runner-ups: McCormack, Sky Korek, Colin Hopkins and Chris Kim. McCormack and Korek have placed second twice in their careers, so this is a group that has been knocking on the door. “I think that’s important, not just for the team this year, but for teams to come,” Trey said of getting those guys over the top. “To see that really anyone can win a section title if you just put the work in. It’s not just me and my family.”
• If Edgemont wants to surpass Nanuet, a few of those guys will need to take that next step. Coach Pete Jacobson agreed, but he also noted that they’ll need to also have some of the lesser known guys step up to place. “I believe that team titles in a tournament format are won in wrestlebacks. Your champions get you points, but it’s the guys who come back for the thirds and the fourths and the fifths that get you a lot of points and tend to make the difference for team titles. From that perspective, you need everyone on the team to elevate their game,” Jacobson said. “At the same, if you want to punch your ticket to Albany, you need to win a title. We don’t wrestle for wild cards. We wrestle for titles, and I think that’s the mentality here.”
• McCormack joked about wanting to win a section title so that he could have the bragging rights in his household. “My brother (Mark McCormack) wrestled, and he had the same situation,” he said. “He was a two-time sectional runner-up, and I have to win so I can rub it in his face.”
• McCormack is expected to wrestle at 152 pounds, but with the lineup being thin in the upper weights, he’ll probably spend some time bumping up early in the year. The Panthers lost their best heavyweight in Danny Kornberg, and right now don’t have anyone to fill in at 220 or 285. This should definitely be a stronger tournament team than it is in dual meet formats. “We have a lack of people at the heavier weights, so during the dual meets and during the season, I may be bumping up to 160,” McCormack said. “We don’t have that much depth at the higher weight classes, so we’re going to be moving around a bit.”
• While Edgemont may not have much depth among the heavyweights, one thing they do have is a larger senior presence than last season. Led by Trey and McCormack, there was a very focused feeling in the room. I watched them go through conditioning at the end of practice, and it was as intense as I’ve seen on any of my visits. “There’s a lot of talk about leadership on our team this year,” McCormack said. “That’s not to say that last year we didn’t have any, it’s just that there were half as many seniors on the team last year, and not all of them were very talkative by nature. The senior class we have, they’re all some of my best friends, and we’re all on top of each other.”
• Here’s Jacobson on his senior class: “For me, I 100 percent believe that if they wrestle to their potential, they’re going to accomplish their goals,” he said. “Our seniors had a meeting with me before the season, and they conveyed that their goal is to win a team section title. They feel that we’ve had a lot of individual success, and they want more of the team success.”
• Jacobson also spoke about how that focus has translated to a more intense room than he’s ever been apart of at Edgemont. That, he believes, will be the key to the team’s success. “These guys really have taken that to heart, and more than I’ve seen in any team we’ve had that I can recall, are pushing themselves,” he said. “When we go live, it’s just a more competitive feeling in our room than I’ve felt before. You see guys really going after each other – fighting and scrapping for every single point. They’re not giving up anything; being real stingy and physical. That’s something we’ve seen from individuals in the past, but now guys are really pushing each other to do that.”