FAIRFIELD >> Entering this season the goals for the Fairfield Warde wrestling squad are no different from the past. Continue to win, develop and compete for titles.
The foundation of success has been set by head coach Jason Shaughnessy, who has established a winning culture and a strong youth program.
The Mustangs are coming off a second place showing at the FCIAC and Class L Tournament. Warde finished third at the State Open Tournament and placed 10th at the New England Championships, the second highest finish from a Connecticut school.
This year should be no different from previous seasons.
“We have a strong core of kids coming back,” Shaughnessy said. “Numbers are good, well over 60 kids out.”
The Mustangs return sophomore Tim Kane who had a phenomenal freshman year, winning the 113 pound FCIAC title and finished runner-up in Class L and State Open.
Senior Daniel Ebert comes back as one of the wrestlers in the state at 126 pounds. He finished as the FCIAC runner-up, won the Class L crown and took third at Opens. Also returning to the lineup for the Mustangs is junior Charlie Kane, who is back after missing last season with an injury.
“Practices are going really well,” Ebert said. “I’m really psyched for this season. We have a lot of good kids coming back and we’re going to build on a great season last year, and I think climb even higher this year.”
Tim Kane said a year of varsity wrestling experience last year and finishing runner-up in the state and open was invaluable heading into this season.
“It was great, I got to meet so many great high school wrestlers and it really helped me,” he said. “It was motivating to get better and learn from my mistakes.”
The Mustangs’ big loss is heavyweight Ahmed Hourani, who was the New England runner-up. But as Shaughnessy pointed out, the strength of the program is built for situations like this where they have talented guys in position to step in and fill the departed role.
“Difference is we have seniors, junior varsity guys in our program that would start for most teams in the state. We have a lot of depth,” he said.
Beside a strong core of returners, freshman Alex Steele and a few other names should be an added benefit to the lineup.
Pushing the Mustangs this season will once again be FCIAC powerhouse Danbury. The last time Warde won the FCIAC title was in 2010.
Shaughnessy said the goal for his three top returners in the Charlie and Tim Kane and Ebert is an individual New England title.
“Absolutely, that’s the goal,” Ebert said.
Warde will open the season Wednesday at home against New Canaan.