Fresh faces pepper the Mt. Lebanon High School wrestling team. In fact, some have never wrestled before.
That detail doesn’t deter Blue Devil head coach Marc Allemang as he endeavors to bring championships back to the mats at Lebo.
“Long-term the goals are to win WPIAL and PIAA championships, both team and individually,” said Allemang, who enters his seventh season at the helm. “As a program, we have put guys on the podium at the sectional, WPIAL and state tournaments. We need to buy in and get the investment from the kids in order to continue doing that.”
Allemang said the Blue Devils need to continue to get athletes through the youth and junior high programs because that provides a strong foundation but regardless of experience, there are things that even novices can bring to the mats that will lead to success.
“There are things that kids can control regardless of their wrestling abilities so we expect to see kids giving effort each day, finding a way to add value to the team and program, being good teammates and being responsible members of the team,” Allemang said.
“As a team, we have a lot of eager, coachable kids in the room,” he added.
Mac Stout may be the most anxious.
A Pitt recruit, he missed most of last season because of an injury. In 2021, he was unable to defend his WPIAL Class AAA title at 189 pounds.
Stout owns a 91-15 career record. A two-time Powerade place winner and section champion, he was the PIAA runner-up in 2020.
“Having Mac back is a nice boost,” Allemang. “His work ethic is a great example to younger wrestlers on how to carry yourself in the practice room.”
The Blue Devils will also rely on four additional seniors that possess a wealth of experience, including Sam Mago (113), Louis Pietragallo (160), Nick Busalacchi (152) and Mustafa Ismail (172). Pietragallo is a member of Lebo’s football team.
Other experienced wrestlers include sophomores Grant Elder (120) and Joe Gamble (132) as well as Sean Coffman, a junior.
Ejido Montoya is expected to have an immediate impact. A sophomore, he did not wrestle last year but is a product of the successful youth program.
As a team, the Blue Devils compete in Section 4 in the sub-B division with Bethel Park, Central Catholic, Peters Township, Ringgold and Upper St. Clair. PT won the sub-section last year.
The sub-A division features Canon-McMillan, Chartiers Valley, South Fayette, Trinity and Waynesburg. The Red Raiders are the defending WPIAL and PIAA champions.
“If you look at the full section, Waynesburg is the favorite but within our sub-section all the teams are pretty solid,” Allemang said. “We have to focus on ourselves and wrestle well at every weight. If we do that we should be in the mix.”
Nevertheless Allemang admits there is work to do. He said the Blue Devils have a lot of things upon which to improve but he is pleased with their progress.
“There is no substitute for experience and we do have a lot of new faces,” Allemang said.
“It is really cool to see guys come out for the team, but we also know that there will be some kids getting varsity matches for the first time. We need to keep working on doing small things correctly and correcting bad habits in our wrestling and the way we approach practices.”