Chris Waslaske to lead Athol wrestling program

  • The Athol wrestling team before practice on Monday in Athol. Caleb Cox and Thomas Seamans are missing from the photo. STAFF PHOTO/ADAM HARGRAVES

  • Athol’s Chris Waslaske during the D3 Western Mass tournament in 2017. Waslaske begins his senior season for the Red Raiders this winter. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/4/2018 10:30:19 AM

Team success might be rare for the Athol wrestling program this winter, but the Red Raiders have some individuals who could go deep into the postseason.

Senior Chris Waslaske is the featured wrestler on the squad. He will compete at 182 pounds.

“If think if he had won his last match last season he would have qualified for New Englands,” Athol coach Brandon Jeffrey said. “He is a legitimate threat to win a Division 3 state title.”

Waslaske is not getting ahead of himself, but wants to show his highest potential during his senior season.

“My main goal is to take it match by match,” Waslaske said. “Just try and go as far as I can. I really want to show what I really have. What I’ve put on the table for the last couple years was good but I know I could have wrestled better.”

Waslaske stopped playing football this fall to start training for wrestling.

“I was excited to play football but I had an incident with my knee,” Waslaske said. “It was a wake-up call to make sure I was healthy for wrestling. I was hesitant to go back to football.”

Waslaske said he would like to be able to earn a scholarship for wrestling during his senior season.

A co-op with Narragansett will help Athol with numbers this season, but the Red Raiders are still short a couple weight classes which will hurt team scores. The team consists of 18 wrestlers.

“After Chris, we don’t have a lot of seniority,” Jeffrey said.

The Red Raiders will look to a couple freshman for points. Caleb Cox has good early credentials, including some high finishes at sectional tournaments.

“He’s been wrestling varsity since the seventh grade,” Jeffrey said. “His father was a wrestler.”

Cox is around 145 pounds right now but would prefer to wrestle at 138 by the start of the season, according to Jeffrey.

“He will be in that range,” Jeffrey said. “We will move him around.”

Joe Gray is another freshman looking to contribute consistent points for the Red Raiders.

“I think in our league we will do alright,” Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey is in his first year as a coach for Athol. He was an assistant under former coach Phil Saisa for nine seasons. The Red Raiders are in the Tri-County League, but will compete in the Central Massachusetts sectional tournament.

“The teams in our league are not in our MIAA sectional tournament,” Jeffrey said.

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