For the fourth consecutive season, Manchester will have new leadership as Joshua Cintron takes over head coaching duties for the wrestling program.
Cintron, a Mount Union graduate, replaces James Easterling, who stepped down at the conclusion of last season after guiding Manchester to a fifth-place Principal Athletic Conference finish and a runner-up status in the sectional tournament.
A former Alliance wrestling standout, Cintron was an All-Ohioan for the Aviators and placed sixth in the OHSAA 2006 Division II state tournament.
Cintron, 25, brings some previous coaching experience with him. He recently served as an assistant at Jackson-Milton High School (Mahoning County) and spent one year at Alliance Middle School.
"I'm very excited about taking over the Manchester wrestling program," said Cintron. "It's a great opportunity. It's all coming fast, but it's something I've always wanted to do and Manchester gave me a chance. I hope to be coaching for the next 30 years."
Cintron inherits a strong contingent of wrestlers from a year ago. They're led by a trio of state qualifiers in seniors Bobby Bowen (126 pounds) and Jacob Hanzel (heavyweight) and sophomore Joey Bowen (106 pounds).
Joey Bowen placed seventh at the state tournament, while Bobby Bowen has made back-to-back appearances at the state level.
Hanzel, who was a key member on the Panthers football squad, will move from the 285-pound weight class to heavyweight this season, while Bobby Bowen will move up two weight classes to 126.
"Those three are a real solid core to have back," Cintron said. "We also have some other kids returning that we are counting on heavily, that we feel can make to it Columbus. We hope to have at least six kids going down."
Other returnees include juniors Drew Brasiel (160 pounds), Dylan Rediger (138) and Brett Thomas (145). Sophomores Brayden Kirk (120), Paul Dies (152), Trevor Ulman (145) and Issac Highman (220) will also return for the Panthers.
Promising newcomers are freshmen Jimmy Bowen (113), and Josh Wenhold (113).
Other team members are Tristan Rediger, and Jesse and Seth Ayres.
"We are expecting big things out of Drew (Brasiel), Dylan (Rediger), Paul (Dies) and Jimmy (Bowen)," said Cintron. "Paul just missed going to the state by one match last season and Jimmy was a state qualifier in wrestling for the middle school."
According to Cintron, the team isn't far behind schedule despite the football team's long playoff run. Of the wrestling program's 19 participants, 13 played football.
"We had to drop out of the Coke Classic (Mansfield Madison) tournament and had to re-schedule one dual meet," Cintron said, "but otherwise we are in pretty good shape."
This year, the Panthers have their sights set on unseating five-time defending PAC-7 champion Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. It will be a tough task given that the Royals placed fourth at the Division II state tournament in 2013 and have won the league title eight of the past nine season's.
Page 2 of 2 - "CVCA and Tuslaw are probably the two leading contenders," Cintron said of the PAC-7 race. "We hope to be right up there. We are just going to go out and wrestle and see what happens."
Manchester's season begins Dec. 28 when it hosts the Panther Invitational.