Coach: Jeremiah Walker, third season
Key returners: Hunter Kurowski, Jr., 132; Miles Bankston, Jr., 145; Parker Evans, Jr., 126; Sebastian Legarra, Jr., 220.
Key newcomers: Abraham Perez, Fr., 113; Steven Messer, Fr., 106; Sam Aldrich, Fr., 126; Jake Gardner, Fr., 285; Conor Martin, Jr., 120
Outlook: Head coach Jeremiah Walker’s team is pretty much split between upperclassmen and fresh faces, but because of the developmental youth program he beefed up at Central, he’s confident the younger athletes will be tenacious enough to compete right away.
“While we may have taken a hit graduating so many seniors last year, our strengths reside in our ability to yield a lineup of aggressive young athletes who aren’t afraid to take risks,” Walker said.
Perez, a freshman, will be a team captain, will headline a team that hopes to make a splash in the state playoffs without a single senior, Walker looks forward to how much the unit can come together as a “family” and build for the future.
“Utilizing that family dynamic, we need to improve on our mat mentality that every point counts, not only for ourselves, but for our team.”
Coach: Kevin Contardi, seventh season
Key returners: Eric Diemert, Sr., 120; Matthew Sheetz, Sr., 132; Daniel Morlin, Sr., 145; Kyle Hall, Sr., Payton Mitchell, Jr., 113; Eric Kohlins, Sr., 180
Key newcomers: Nick Sheetz, Fr., 126; Brett Malinowski, Fr., 160
Outlook: A senior-laden group will return for the Longhorns, including two in Eric Diemert and Matthew Sheetz that were state runner-ups last year. After getting Robbie Powell back from an injury in 2014, head coach Kevin Contardi thinks he’s got something special—as long as his team meets its potential.
“We just want to wrestle to our potential for the talent we have in the room,” Contardi said. “Our Area is so tough and we just want to be in the mix at our two tournaments.”
Daniel Morin, an area champ from last year, and Eric Kohlins, who was just a match from placing for state, are two that spark the team, along with Payton Mitchell who won 93 percent of his matches a year ago.
“We are expecting a breakout year from him,” Contradi said of Mitchell.
Coach: Travis Jarrard, 16th season
Key returners: Cole Tenety, So., 120; Justin Lioiti, Jr., 138; Nathan Grimes, So., 138; Bradley Thomas, Jr., 145; Conner Carroll, So., 152; Hunter Lloyd, Sr., 195; Jackson Bardall, Sr., 285.
Key newcomers: Paul Watkins, Fr., 113.
Outlook: After winning the county and both area titles (traditional and duals) last season, the Raiders proved that youth would not be a hindrance to their season, but this year will be a new type of challenge.
Tenured coach Travis Jarrard says the team will benefit from being “young” last year, when it gained “valuable experience.” He also says the leadership is strong, but it’s still youthful: three-fourths of the roster are freshmen or sophomores.
“Overall, numbers are low, so we have very little depth,” Jarrard said.
Without state-qualifier Chase Tenety, his younger brother, Cole, will lead the way, along with seniors Hunter Lloyd and Jackson Bardall. So far the team is hitting its goal weights and putting in strong effort preparing for the year.
“Weight assessments went according to plan,” Jarrard said. “So, if the wrestlers can stick to their individualized plans we should have a solid lineup by the time Area Duals rolls around. It will be interesting to see how this young group can hold up to the senior-heavy teams in the county and region.”
Coach: Martin Podmolik, first season
Key returners: None
Key newcomers: Chris Biba, Fr., 285; Gabe Underwood, Sr., 220; Alex Fabian, Jr., 195; Sean Pfiel, Fr., 182; Sam Adams, So., 152; Colin Steinbach, Jr., 145; Nick Miller, Fr., 145; Nando Holdsworth, So., 138; Patrick Phelan, Fr., 132; Michael Tropea, Fr., 106
Outlook: So far, so good for first year head coach Martin Podmolik, who is building Pinecrest’s program from the ground up this season. The entire team went into the year with no reference on how to prepare, let alone win, but Podmolik already has checked off one major goal.
“We have perseverance. So far no one has quit,” Podmolik said. “It’s really amazing considering most of the kids this year really have no understanding of how tough you have to be to be in this sport.”
The Paladins have set goals for their first season: dual victories, maintaining the number they have and increasing in numbers as they go along, and having individuals place at tournaments. Podmolik also has kept in eye out in the halls and thinks there’s more talent to come.
“We have some young men at Pinecrest who could really help develop this program quickly but they haven’t yet made the decision to be a part of this.”
Coach: Mike Beckley, second season, seventh overall
Key returners: Sam Ranta, Jr., 113; Ben Lemay, Sr., 132; Jackson Baraff, Jr., 138; Felipe Hayes, Sr., 152; Brennan McCrum, Sr., 160; Logan Troye, Sr., 195; Charlie Renta, So., 126; Arvin Khedmati, Jr., 171
Key newcomers: N/A
Outlook: Sam Ranta, Ben Lemay, Jackson Baraff, Felipe Hayes and Brennan McCrum all return as state qualifiers, but the amount of returners is enough to make head coach Mike Beckley more than content with his depth.
“Our biggest strength this year is the large number of wrestlers we have with experience. We have a bunch of seniors leading practice and they have really helped pick up the intensity and skill level. I am counting on them to help us improve with the team’s overall conditioning and combativeness.”
Beckley, who is in his second stint with South as the wrestling coach after coaching from 2001-2005, expects at least one of his state qualifiers from last year to break through.
“My expectations for the year are to be very competitive at the state duals and have several state placers in the traditional state tournament, including at least one state champion.”
Coach: Steven Stromie, fifth season
Key returners: Denver Stonecheck, Sr., 138; Kaleb Sherman, Sr., 170; Jackson Walker, Sr., 145; Hunter Jolly, Jr., 285; Troy Crawford, Sr., 138.
Key newcomers: Troy Rickert, Fr., 113; Adam Galvan, Fr., 120; Haydan Cook, Fr., 138
Outlook: With a strong group of seniors and an influx of freshman talent, West head coach Steven Stromie expects to “make some noise” at the state tournaments, with Denver Stonecheck leading the way. Stonecheck, who is a three-time defending region champ and placed third last season at state, has a stamp of confidence from Stromie that he can earn a state title.
He also thinks his other upperclassmen can carry the torch as well. “We haven’t accomplished any of our goals lately, to win a region championship,” Stromie said. “So, it’s time to prove whether or not we have what it takes to grow and mature as a team and accomplish those goals.”
Stromie hopes the senior leadership will help hold the team together.
“We have been unable to keep a complete team together for an entire season in the last four years,” Stromie said. “We must not be our own worst enemy, and we have to stick together and hold each other accountable if we want to be successful.”