"It's state title or bust," said Muldoon.
The expectations are higher for the Pirates as well. They return a core of top wrestlers including defending section champions Muldoon and James Kelly, and the improved depth to take a step forward in team competition.
"I'm excited," Muldoon said. "We definitely have some studs coming back, not just the seniors. I think we should do well as a team this coming year, also."
"This should be one of the best teams I've ever coached," Pearl River Head Coach Grier Yorks said. "WE have to do i ton the mat, but on paper, we should be really tough. We have to move people around, but most duals we will fill all the weights. We should be a real strong tournament team. We have some really good individuals."
The full lineup is a key. With less depth and some injuries, the Pirates were not able to do that last season and it cost them in dual meet competition.
Yorks said going into the season, he expects Muldoon, Kelly, senior Rob Gullo and freshman Sean McGarvey to contend for section championships.
"We have four kids competing for a section title this year," York said. "I've never had htat. Pearl River hasn't had that since 1985, when we won the section."
Muldoon, who has signed to wrestle next year at Southern Illinois, Edwardsville, will make the move up to 132 pounds, though he may also compete at 138 a few times during the season. Yorks said he has once again seen a big improvement in Muldoon from one season to the nex.t
"He has made a big jump every year," Yorks said. "He is much better this year. If he could wrestle him self from last year, he'd punish the guy from last year. He is that much better."
Kelly, a junior, is moving up from 99 to 113 pounds. He faces tough competition, but should be in the mix. Gullo should also be there at 160 pounds after finishing fourth in the section at 152 as a junior.
McGarvey was the Pirates' second 99 pounder last season, sometimes getting a starting spot with Kelly moving up to 106 and impressing when he got the chance in dual meets and tournaments.
Yorks said he had hoped the addition of the remodeled wrestling room at Pearl River during last season would bring out even larger numbers to compete this season, but what he has seen is a growth in the number of athletes who put more time into the sport.
"I have more kids who are really serious about wrestling on the team," Yorks said. "I've never had so many kids going to clubs or doing stuff in the offseason. They come up knowing how to wrestle. The first few days of practice, it was more refining technique than teaching new stuff. The whole team knows how to wrestle."
Pearl River has 11 seniors, but only two juniors and three sophomores on the roster. The Pirates have seven freshmen and even two seventh graders, Dylan Urban and Jack Chesman, who could make a contribution this season.
Pearl River will compete in its first dual meet at Harrison 4:30 p.m. Tuesday Dec. 10.
2013-14 Pearl River Wrestling Roster
- John Muldoon
- Rob Gullo
- Nick Simeti
- Mike Zimnoch
- Dave Avery
- Bryan Kondracki
- Ryan Mullahy
- Brandon Ortega
- Brayden Ilie
- Mykola Duda
- Liam O'Hagan
- James Kelly
- Cameron Coyle
- Jake Kurzhals
- Jack Arnold
- George Deyab
- Sean McGarvey
- Mike McGrath
- Anthony Malfitano
- Sean McCann
- Jack Hogan
- Dylan Conway
- Dylan Hofman
- Dylan Urban
- Jack Chesman