Ryan Ginsburg transferred to La Salle last year, just in time for the start of the wrestling season.

As a freshman, Ginsburg posted a 49-12 individual record at 125 pounds, as the Explorers finished with a 22-5 record and wrapped up the Catholic League championship. Ginsburg finished third in the Pennsylvania private schools tourney and 16th at the national prep tourney.

Ginsburg's success was not a surprise, as he had been making his mark as a midget wrestler from the time he was 5 years old. He already has set higher goals this season.

"I want to win as many tourneys as I can. I'd like to finish in the top three at the national prep tourney," he said after winning three of four matches at the highly competitive Nazareth Tournament earlier this season.

The Nazareth Tourney loss was to John Childress of Dallastown.

"He was big for his weight and very strong," Ginsburg said of his opponent. "It means I'll just have to work harder."

La Salle coach Vic Stanley said Ginsburg's success can be attributed to the way he approaches each match.

"Ryan has outstanding knowledge of the sport," Stanley said. "He has very good match sense and is very much at home in the middle of the mat."

Ginsburg was introduced to wrestling when his dad's friend, Joe Mazzi, asked Ryan if he was interested in watching wrestling club matches. Mazzi's son, Joe Jr., had started wrestling with a club based at Conestoga High. Now Ginsburg and the younger Mazzi, a freshman, are teammates at La Salle.

"I didn't know much about it at first," said Ginsburg, who considered football his favorite sport at the time, but soon learned to love wrestling. "We moved from the Conestoga program to one in West Norriton."

Ginsburg's dad, Bruce, said Ryan's strength impressed the midget-level coaches.

"We felt West Norriton was the best [club program] in the area at the time," Bruce Ginsburg said. "It was an accelerated program, with practices and tournaments every week. Ryan did that for about six, seven years. He's done very well in Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Wrestling."

Ryan Ginsburg finished first or second in many of the youth tournaments, much to the relief of his mother, Trish, who suffers through each of his matches.

"It's been intense, at times," she said. "He gets twisted in all different positions. It took me a long time to get used to it. He's very good at what he does. It's a passion with him."

Ryan, who lives in Upper Merion Township, will have a great chance to add to his laurels when Blair Academy, the No. 1 prep team in the country according to Wrestling USA Magazine, visits La Salle on Dec. 22. At noon, Great Valley, one of the top-rated teams in District 1, will challenge Blair. At 2 p.m., the Explorers take a shot at Blair.

Wrestlers to watch

Mark Rappo, Council Rock South, senior:

Posted a 51-1 record and reached the PIAA Class AAA 103-pound state final last season.

Ryan Kemmerer, Spring-Ford, junior:

Was 47-10 and a PIAA medalist at 135 pounds at Upper Perkiomen before transferring this season.

Pat May, Downingtown West, senior:

Was 43-5 and an eighth-place PIAA finisher at 112. He is competing at 119 this year.

Josh Dziewa

,

Pennsbury, sophomore:

Was 46-4 as a freshman and won the Southeast Regional crown at 125 pounds.

Jon Weibel,

Quakertown, senior:

Was 37-9 at 152 pounds; reached the 100-career win mark in his first two bouts this season.

Jack Callender, Council Rock North, senior:

Was 32-11 last season and is ranked No. 1 at 215 pounds by D1wrestling.com.

Colin McConnell, Pennridge, junior:

Was 27-13 and a state qualifier last season. He moved up to 145 pounds this season.

Seth Ecker, Pottstown, senior:

Was 40-4 and finished seventh at 112 pounds in Class AA states last season.

Josh Smith,

Octorara, junior: Was 36-9 and advanced to the third round of the 171-pound consolations in AA states last year.

- Don Beideman

Wrestling teams to watch

Council Rock South

, 22-4 record in 2006-07.

The Golden Hawks bounced back after losing their opener in the Cement Town Duals.

Downingtown West

, 22-2.

The Whippets are seeking their third consecutive Ches-Mont League crown.

Springfield (Delaware County)

, 28-2.

The Cougars zipped through the Central League (9-0) last season.

Pennsbury,

18-3.

The Falcons are expected to defend their Suburban One League National Conference title.

Great Valley,

13-4.

The Patriots opened the season by capturing the team title in their own tournament.

Contact staff writer Don Beideman at 610-701-7613

or dbeideman@phillynews.com.