Wrestling preview: Van Wert Cougars

With a full roster and experience, the wrestling team at Van Wert High School is ready to make some noise during the 2018-2019 season.

The season begins today at the Jim McCracken Invitational in Sidney, a tournament that features over a dozen teams. While nothing is set in stone yet in terms of a lineup, head coach Ben Collins has some wiggle room.

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Ben Collins

“Our lineup with weights isn’t set yet with it being so early in the season,” Collins said. “I know this weekend at Sidney there will be some guys in different weights than where they will end up. We look to eventually have 12 to 13 of the weights filled, but that won’t happen for awhile with the Alpha Master Report.”

Today’s expected lineup for Van Wert will feature freshman Kaleb Flory (106), junior Ben Lange/freshman Arnez Riley (126), freshman Jacob Sealscott/sophomore Devon West (138), senior Gabe Steyer (145), senior Isaiah Bretz/sophomore Macein Bigham, junor Ryan Pratt (160), junior Malachi Battle, senior Thurston Miller (182); sophomore Spencer Blue (195), junior Brice Waldron (220) and freshman Eli Kline (285). The 113, 120, 132 and 170 pound weight classes are vacant, at least for today.

“For the first time in a few seasons we will have a group that is experienced,” Collins said. “We have two returning state qualifiers (Steyer and Bretz) who look to make progress this year. They are closely followed by a couple of returning league and sectional placers as well.”

Those league and sectional placers include sophomore Killian Suddith and senior Lloyd Eutsler.

“I like this group’s work ethic the best,” Collins said of his grapplers. “For the most part our guys are working extremely hard and have risen to the demands that this sport puts on our athletes. As our young guys learn to work from the experienced group this team could progress really well.”

In addition to a tough Western Buckeye League dual schedule, the Cougars are slated to wrestle in six invitationals this season.

“Our invite schedule has gotten stronger than the last couple of years,” Collins said. “We added the Ashland Crestview tournament as an early season gauge for our older guys.”

“Our front end of our season schedule is solid in the fact that we will have a lot of good competition early. This will help our wrestlers know where they stack up for the rest of the season.”

One of the key early season matchups is December 13 at home against three time defending WBL champion Wapakoneta.