If you were one of the area’s elite underclassmen on the wrestling mat last season, you probably picked up right where you left off.
But a couple of area high school wrestling teams that have struggled in the past have already shown improvement from previous seasons.
The Blanchard Valley Conference championship is up for grabs and Arcadia may have served notice to two-time defending champ Van Buren that it plans on challenging for the title this season.
The Redskins made strides under first-year head coach Jerry Stone a year ago. Saturday they opened their season by winning the eight-team Ridgedale Invitational behind individual champs Wyatt Lucas, Jordan Marczak, John Hill and John Snow.
Arcadia also should have a numerical advantage, which is always important in the BVC, as the Redskins will start the season with 23 wrestlers on the varsity squad.
Van Buren coach Travis Ricker has seven letterwinners back, including state alternate Tyler Ludwig, as the Black Knights are trying to win their third straight BVC title.
As for the rest of the BVC, Cory-Rawson got off to a strong start in its own duals as the Hornets posted a 4-1 record. With a veteran group of six senior letterwinners leading the way and decent numbers, Cory-Rawson is hoping to challenge for the conference title.
McComb returns a small but talented team that includes three-time BVC champ Dylan Montgomery and talented sophomores Jacob Dillon and Matthew Pierce. Liberty-Benton has 25 wrestlers out, including a dozen freshmen and Riverdale returns its entire team and has a pair of potential state qualifiers on the squad in Wayne Frey and Aiden Loveridge.
The area is, of course, minus one wrestling program this season with the closure of St. Wendelin High School.
Here are a few other things to watch as the wrestling season gets into full swing this week:
DEFENDING CHAMPS: Upper Sandusky will be trying to defend its title in the Northern 10 Conference. The Rams should have the firepower to get it done with returning two-time state qualifier Noah Clary and state alternate Connor Johnston leading the way.
Mohawk and a young Carey team will be the primary competition in the conference for Upper Sandusky, which moved back down to Division III in the OHSAA team tournament after advancing to the regional semifinals last year in Division II.
TRYING TO GET BACK: With the graduation of three-time state placer Cole Draper, Mohawk doesn’t have any returning state qualifiers.
The Warriors do, however, have a couple of wrestlers on the roster with state meet experience in seniors Daniel Price and Parker Brown, who qualified for state as sophomores but were unable to advance a year ago.
Brown was a state alternate as a junior and is coming off a strong performance in football as he helped the Warriors make the playoffs while earning first-team all-Ohio defensive honors in Division VII.
LAST HURRAH: This will be Dave Lee’s 30th and final season as head coach at Elmwood. Lee will retire at the end of the season after a run in charge of the area’s most consistent wrestling program.
Lee’s 525 dual meet victories ranks first all-time among Ohio’s high school wrestling coaches. His Elmwood teams have posted a 525-266 record during his tenure.
Maple Heights’ head coach Jamie Milkovich is second on the list with a 466-121-1 record.
NEW FACES: There are two new head coaches in the area this season.
Justin Kiser, Fostoria’s junior high coach and former state qualifier for the Redmen, takes over as the school’s head coach after Brandon Distel stepped down at the end of last season.
Alex Lopez has taken charge of the Patrick Henry wrestling program following his dad Victor’s retirement.
STREAK STOPPER?: Will this be the year the area finally gets another state champ?
There are some candidates, like Ada two-time state placer Chase Sumner, and from past history area wrestlers are due for a state title.
Area wrestlers have reached state championship matches and lost 11 straight times since Elmwood’s Nick Goebel won the Division III state 103-pound championship in 2009.
Van Buren’s Chance (2015) and Chad Sonnenberg (2010), Patrick Henry’s Brandon Bennett (2016), Xavier Dye (2011) and Alex Lopez (2009), Fostoria’s Tony Reynolds (2013), North Baltimore’s Dalton Ishmael (2013), Elmwood’s Goebel (2010) and Alex Betts (2009), Mohawk’s Draper (2016) and Hopewell-Loudon’s Ben Kuzma (2009) all lost in the state finals during that time period.
Below is a look at each of the area’s wrestling programs.
HEAD COACH: Jason Sumner (3rd year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/4th in Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Dillon Foster, soph., 120; Kade Cortez, sr., 132, 18-14; Chase Sumner, sr., 138/145, 40-6, state placer; Reece Evans, soph., 145/152, 9-16; Carson Hissong, jr., 152/160; Erryk Katayama, sr., 182; Xander White, sr., 195; Adam Bailey, sr., 285, district qualifier, 14-17.
TOP PROSPECTS: Colton Beiderman, fr., 106; Cameron Bober, fr., 138; Tyler Onions, jr., 160; Noah Arnett, soph., 285; Malachi Stuard, fr., 285.
NOTABLE: Sumner is trying for his third state tournament medal. He’ll be one of the Division III wrestlers to beat at state in the 138- or 145-pound weight class this season.
HEAD COACH: Jeff Kleman (21st year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/3rd in Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: James Badial, sr., 152, 31-17, district qualifier; Ryder Romick, sr., 126, 22-16, district qualifier; Deandre Nassar, jr., 220, 40-8, state qualifier; Andrew Burroughs, jr., 160.
TOP PROSPECTS: Jesse Montel, jr.; Tayton Kleman, fr.; Joshua Mehaffie, fr.; Jeremy Sturgeon, fr.; Elijah Conley, fr.; Trent Pearson, fr.; Wyatt Gossard, fr.
NOTABLE: Nassar was a win away from placing at state as a sophomore and is a returning NWC champ. Romick is also a defending conference champ. More than half of the Pirates’ roster will be made up of freshman this season.
HEAD COACH: Eric Siefker (10th year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/5th in Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Enoch Jones, sr., 182, 18-13, district qualifier; Caleb Langhals, jr., 113, 19-21; Dylan Pitts, jr.; Dylan Sargent, soph., 220, 24-16, district qualifier.; Dakota Sargent, soph., 195, 17-12, district qualifier.
TOP PROSPECTS: Noah Drake, sr.; Rayne Sharrits, sr.; Dylan Bryan, soph.; Justin Flanders, fr.; Tanner Blankemeyer, fr.; Ryan Bogart, fr.; Ezra Jones, fr.; Ian Langhals, fr.; Jeff Meyer, fr.
NOTABLE: Grove will feature a young team with just two seniors an six freshmen. There is a solid core of wrestlers back for the Bulldogs with three district qualifiers returning.
HEAD COACH: Jerry Stone (2nd year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/2nd in Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Dylan Fenimore, sr., 182; Braydon George, sr., 195, 21-26; Reese Grine, sr., 152, 11-16; Matt Hill, sr., 182; Jordan McGowan, jr., 138; Gage Boyd, jr., 152, 13-26; John Hill, jr., 285, 33-15; Andrew Husted, jr., 160; Kenneth Durst, jr., 170, 18-28; Eric Musson, jr., 145, 10-13; Wyatt Lucas, jr., 126, 25-16; Jordan Marczak, soph., 113, 21-24.
TOP PROSPECTS: Anthony Emahiser, sr.; Alex Ginnever, jr.; Dalton Mathias, jr.; Daron Seaburn, jr.; Tristan Martinez, soph.; Chase Distel, fr.; Bryan Harrison, fr.; Kaiden Scott, fr.; Bryan Harrison, fr.; John Snow, fr.; Ethan Smarr, fr.
NOTABLE: Hill is the defending BVC heavyweight champ and a returning district qualifier. Marczak and Lucas were also 20-match winners a year ago and are returning district qualifiers.
HEAD COACH: Justin Parkins (11th year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/5th in Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Owen Karcher, soph., 112, 26-12, district qualifier; Daniel White, sr., 120, 9-23, district qualifier; Tyler Stoodt, jr., 132, 17-16; Isaiah Colvin, sr., 138, 24-13, district qualifier; Kyle Jones-Martin, sr., 145, 2-17; Logan Korpics, jr., 160, 15-15; Jamey Miles, jr., 170, 5-17; Blaine Peterson, sr., 170, 28-13, district qualifier; Dylon Stoops, sr., 182, 18-15; Zerich Magnall, sr., 220, 16-15, district qualifier.
TOP PROSPECTS: Deontae’ Davis, soph., 160; Drew Stewart, soph., 195; Anthony Kizer, fr., 285; Justin Gibson, fr., 152.
NOTABLE: With six seniors in the lineup, look for the Hornets to be one of the top teams in the BVC this season. C-R has three wrestlers back that won 20 or more matches last season.
HEAD COACH: Aaron Kapelka (3rd year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/7th in Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Chance Mason, jr., 19-21; Logan Holcomb, jr., 10-21; Caleb Hinton, soph., 7-22; Levi Kuhn, soph., 9-21; Dominic Kear, soph., 4-11.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kole Freeman, fr.; Blake Hoover, fr.; Devin Arbogast, soph.; Ryan Panuto, fr.; Cole McCarver, soph.; Caden Crawford, fr.; Aidan Sears, fr.
NOTABLE: Hopewell-Loudon is still in rebuilding mode after winning the BVC two years ago. There are no seniors on Kapelka’s roster.
HEAD COACH: Jim Wittkamp (5th year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 6-9/6th in Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: A.J. Dobbins, sr., 195, 20-17; Solomon Garcia, sr., 170/182, 15-18; Hunter Haws, sr., 182, 9-12, district qualifier; Bobby Musselman, sr., 160/170, 11-25; Logan Sterling, jr., 160, 5-19; Jackson Smith, soph., 113, 9-24.
TOP PROSPECTS: Wesley Tressler, soph., 120; Mason Richards, fr., 126; Dru Baker, fr., 132; Ethan Stemen, jr., 152; Race Garrell, fr., 160; Dylan Mersch, fr., 170; Grant Vermilya, sr., 285.
NOTABLE: The Eagles should be improved and have the best numbers in the conference with 25 wrestlers to start the season. L-B also has a dozen freshmen out for the sport this year.
HEAD COACH: Jim Pierce.
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/3rd in Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Dylan Montgomery, sr., 120, 26-10, district qualifier; Matthew Pierce, soph., 126, 31-11 district qualifier; Jacob Dillon, soph., 145, 35-16, district qualifier; Andrew Smith, soph., 145, 24-20; Brice Markel, jr., 220, 32-18 district qualifier.
TOP PROSPECTS: Austin Ratliff, 170; Tristan Cox, 182; Matt Davis, 170.
NOTABLE: Montgomery is a three-time district qualifier and will be trying to win his fourth straight conference title. Dillon and Pierce will also try and build on successful seasons after both claimed BVC crowns and qualified for districts.
HEAD COACH: Duane Brodman (20th year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/4th in Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Creed Blakely, jr., 152, 3-21; Ethan Shane, soph., 160, 8-17; Thane Gallegos, jr., 126, 12-8, district qualifier; Miles Frey, jr., 132, 21-14; Wayne Frey, sr., 145, 30-14, district placer; Ethan Hayes, sr., 182, 22-11; Max Stover, sr., 182, 9-17; Aidan Loveridge, sr., 171, 8-3, district qualifier; Isaiah Curl, soph., 285, 1-14.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: The Falcons had no seniors last year, so the entire team returns. Look for big seasons from returning district placer Wayne Frey and Aidan Loveridge, who had a solid run at the end of last year.
HEAD COACH: Travis Ricker (2nd year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/Blanchard Valley Conference champions.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Andres Miranda, soph., 138, district qualifier; Tyler Ludwig, sr., 152, 33-11, state alternate; Kevin Beall, sr., 160, 16-13; Jake Emerine, sr., 182, 29-13, district qualifier; Cade Whitticar, 170, 28-12; Kaleb Snodgrass, soph., 220, 17-12; Reese Young, jr., 195, 10-5.
TOP PROSPECTS: Dino Donaldson, fr., 132; Grant Young, fr., 113; Mateo Miranda, soph., 120; Nate Williamson, soph., 126; Zack Kingrey, fr., 145; Ethan Johnson, fr., 285.
NOTABLE: A strong nucleus returns for the Black Knights, who are seeking their third straight BVC title. Tyler Ludwig was a win away from qualifying for state last season and leads a good group of middle weights.
HEAD COACH: Luke Garner (3rd year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/8th in Blanchard Valley Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: David Patterson, sr., 132, 33-12, district qualifier; Levi Trout, soph., 138, 15-21; Zeth Johnson, soph., 152, 13-19; Simon Sexton, jr., 145, 12-15; Brendan Cotterman, jr., 182.
TOP PROSPECTS: Gavin McGrew, fr., 113; Jonathan Patterson, fr., 120; Koleton Carpenter, soph., 126; Adam Showalter, jr., 126; Nate Staley, sr., 160; Ashtin Weber, jr., 160; Santos Canales, jr., 170; Brandon Biller, jr., 220; Brendan Hutchins, jr., 285.
NOTABLE: Better numbers at North Baltimore should make for a much more competitive team this year. Patterson could be primed for a big year after winning a match at districts and recording 33 wins as a junior.
HEAD COACH: Ryan Pratt (13th year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 7-9/3rd in Northern 10 Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Reece Mullholand, soph., 113, 24-16, district qualifier; Shawn Secristy, soph., 132, 6-19; A.J. Gernert, soph., 145, 8-24; Hayden Jacoby, soph., 160, 17-19; Tanner May, soph., 182, 40-13, state placer; Trent Phoenix, soph., 195, 15-19; Ethan Schlack, jr., 285, district qualifier, 31-18.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kadin Smiley, fr., 106; Trent Eggert, fr., 120; Gerardo Garcia, sr., 126; Jaden Pahl, soph., 138; Drake Schwochow, jr., 152; Kaeden Wentz, fr., 170; Noah Black, fr., 220.
NOTABLE: May was sixth at state a year ago as a freshman. Mullholand and Schlack are returning district qualifiers. It’s a very young Carey team, though, that features just one senior.
HEAD COACH: Nate Lofay (4th year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 19-9/2nd in Northern 10 Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: David Daniel, sr., 106; Caden Gurney, sr., 132, 24-21, district qualifier; Daniel Price, sr., 138, 26-15, state qualifier 2016; Morgan Price, soph., 145, 27-18, district qualifier; Austin England, soph., 145; Rico Lopez, sr., 29-16, district qualifier; Grant Theis, soph., 160; Parker Brown, sr., 170, 43-9, state qualifier 2016; Nick Theis, sr., 220.
TOP PROSPECTS: Jesse Leeth, fr., 145; Blake Spitler, soph., 145; Parker Patchett, jr., 145; Ian Pursell, sr., 152; Branyon Winings, fr., 152; Kaleb Leeth, fr., 160; Zack Leeth, fr., 170; James Clouse, fr., 195; Jacob Amlin, sr., 220.
NOTABLE: The Warriors lost three-time state placer Cole Draper to graduation. Brown and Daniel Price were state qualifiers in 2016 but missed out on a trip last year. They should also be helped by the return of Nick Theis who missed much of last year with injuries.
HEAD COACH: Noah Blankenship (4th year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 4-3/Northern 10 Conference champs.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Noah Clary, sr., 44-5, state qualifier; Brandon Derr, sr., 29-11, district qualifier; Mitchell Dewitt, sr., 12-17, district qualifier; Connor Johnston, sr., 39-7, state alternate; Arik Schneider, sr., 17-19; Mark Collins, jr., 7-14; Ronan Gullifer, soph., 17-16, district qualifier; Brayzin McDaniel, soph., 22-16, district qualifier; Garrett Thomas, soph., 15-19.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: Upper Sandusky reached the regional semifinals of the Division II OHSAA state team tournament a year ago and is the defending N10 champs. Six district qualifiers are back for the Rams including state qualifier Noah Clary and state alternate Connor Johnson.
HEAD COACH: Dave Lee (30th year, 525-266).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 18-9/2nd in Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kolton Bloom, sr., 113/120; Corey Loera, jr., 132, 21-19; Trevor Bingham, jr., 145, 9-3; Christian Aldaco, sr., 138, 26-19, district qualifier; Jacob Corral, jr., 152, 24-21; Brandon Love, sr., 152, 18-13; Jacob Wilhelm, sr., 160; Kain Brossia, jr., 285, 21-16; Levi Garner, sr., 160, 6-6; A.J. Gallegos, jr., 182; Garrett Wright, jr., 170, 23-20; Dylan Hinton, sr., 195, 45-6, state qualifier; Will Bechstein, soph., 220, 7-4.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: Elmwood has 13 letterwinners back including returning state qualifier Dylan Hinton. This will be Dave Lee’s 30th and final season as head coach. He’ll retire with the most dual match wins of any prep wrestling coach in Ohio history.
HEAD COACH: Justin Kiser (1st year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/8th in Northern Buckeye Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: David Daniels, jr., 132, 5-18; Ethan Clabaugh, sr., 126; Noah Damschroder, soph., 152; Cameron Delong, soph., 170, 3-23; Collin Drake, sr., 182, 16-23, district qualifier; Roger Hall, soph., 220, 15-17.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kevin Legos, fr., 132; Aaron Johnson, soph., 170; Kaonte Payton, sr., 220; Bryce Durst, sr., 220; Shawn Vilaisack, soph., 285; Dominik Nickelson, fr., 182.
NOTABLE: Kiser, a Fostoria grad, takes over a program that struggled last season. Drake, a district qualifier last year, is the team’s top returning wrestler.
HEAD COACH: Alex Lopez (1st year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/7th in Northwest Ohio Athletic League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Max Neiling, sr., 138, 21-9, district qualifier; Wil Morrow, soph., 195, 30-6, state qualifier; Josafat Hinojosa, jr., 145, 8-16; A.J. Healy, jr., 170, 4-24; Corey Hatcher, jr., 160.
TOP PROSPECTS: T.J. Rhamy, soph., 182; Anthony Meyer, fr.; Harley Cole, fr.; Luke Wright, fr.; Jose Bejarano, fr.; Josh Stout, soph.
NOTABLE: Look for another outstanding year from Wil Morrow who advanced to state as a freshman. Max Neiling could also take a step forward and challenge for a state berth.
HEAD COACH: Randy Ebbeskotte (2nd year)
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 10-9/5th in Western Buckeye League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Daniel Beemer, sr., 182, 38-2, state placer; Danny Rosales, jr., 170, 27-14, state qualifier; Grant Goecke, sr., 160, 28-10, state alternate; Brent Siefker, sr., 145, 22-16; Evan Ellerbrock, jr., 138, 7-7; Isaac Hernandez, jr., 126, 7-16; Jasper Scarberry, jr., 145, 12-15.
TOP PROSPECTS: Dustin Barnes, soph., 106; Carter Schroeder, fr., 126; Noah Benroth, jr., 152; Matt Schmersal, jr., 195; Jeremy Scarberry, sr., 220; Ben Johnson, soph., 285; Riley Karhoff, sr., 285.
NOTABLE: The Titans qualified a school record five wrestlers to state last year. Two return as Daniel Beemer tries to become a three-time state placer. Rosales is a returning state qualifier and Goecke was just a match away from qualifying.
HEAD COACH: Rob Timmons (4th year).
LAST YEAR’S RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available/7th in Sandusky Bay Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Darry Endicott, sr., 138, 32-11; Thomas Shipley, sr., 182; Dakota Klotz, sr., 285. 30-14, district qualifier; Parker Grine, sr., 126, 5-8; Anthony Johnson, sr., 120, 17-13; Logan Bloom, sr., 120, 7-22; Bryce Anderson, sr., 145, 19-18; John Jacquot, jr., 170; Trevor Franks, soph., 152, 36-12, district qualifier; Jay Bartson, soph., 195; Wayne Paul, soph., 132.
TOP PROSPECTS: David Frye, soph., 170; Jared Hutton, soph., 220; Alex Peace, fr., 195.
NOTABLE: Frank and Klotz have state qualification potential. With seven seniors in the lineup the Raiders have high expectations heading into the season.