Washington Township, Collingswood, and Eastern are three of the best wrestling programs in South Jersey.
They have something else in common this season: new coaches.
The new season will present a new challenge to Ron Ippolite at Washington Township, Dechlin Moody at Collingswood, and Bobby Stinson at Eastern.
"It's an exciting time," said Ippolite, a former standout wrestler at Highland and Bloomsburg (Pa.) University.
Ippolite replaced Ralph Ross, who led Washington Township to a 24-3 record and the No. 2 final ranking in The Inquirer Top 10 last season.
The Minutemen return several top wrestlers, including two-time Region 8 champion Chalie Huff, a senior who will compete at 130 pounds.
Washington Township lost a top lightweight when sophomore Ricky Carter, who went 33-7 and won a district title last season at 103 pounds, transferred to Timber Creek.
"I've stressed to the kids the importance of being prepared," said Ippolite, who has been a teacher at Chestnut Ridge Middle School in Washington Township for 18 years. "When it's time to wrestle, they need to show their competitiveness. They all need to find ways to help the Washington Township wrestling team."
Ippolite was an assistant coach at Washington Township in the early 1990s. He also has been a middle-school wrestling coach in Washington Township.
Moody replaced Ron Hamrick at Collingswood. Hamrick resigned as coach but remained as the school's athletic director.
Moody, a former Collingswood wrestler, is excited by the opportunity to coach his alma mater.
Collingswood returns several top wrestlers, including seniors Taylor Venanzi, Jim Hatzell, and Eric Hamrick, the athletic director's son.
"I'm trying to continue the winning tradition that Ron Hamrick has implemented, but at the same time increase the intensity in our wrestling style while attempting to take them to the next level," Moody said. "I grew up in Collingswood and wrestled for this program. I have spent more time in this wrestling room than my own house since I was appointed head coach.
"This program means a great deal to me and I will put all my effort into helping these kids become better wrestlers as well as better people."
Stinson is Eastern's third coach in the last three years. He replaced Wayne Murschell Jr., who wasn't rehired as a teacher because of a reduction in staff at the school.
Stinson was an assistant coach at Eastern for the previous three seasons. During that time, his brother, Hank, won state titles as a sophomore in 2008 and as a senior in 2010.
Bobby Stinson, who won a state title during his days as a wrestler at Camden Catholic, takes over an Eastern team that will be led by senior Rob Deustch, a three-time Region 7 champion and state champion in 2009.
"As far as being a [new] head coach, nothing is really coming as a surprise to me because the experiences in my life have prepared me for this," Stinson said. "Also, I look at it in the sense that anything worth doing is going to be challenging, because if it were easy, everyone would do it.
"I have learned many things from many different coaches including [Camden Catholic's] Gary Papa and my father [Bob]. One thing that I will remember my father saying is this: 'Every kid has potential, and it's the coach's job to make sure that each of them exceed their potential.' If a coach is doing that, then they are doing their job."