Tuesday’s narrow Northern Buckeye Conference loss to Genoa notwithstanding, Eastwood wrestling coach Joe Wyant expects his young Eagles squad to be in the hunt for a conference title this season.
“I definitely think we’re getting better every week,” Wyant said. “Our goals are to be competitive enough to give ourselves a chance to win the league. We still feel we have a chance to win the league meet.”
The backbone of Eastwood’s squad is a group of veteran seniors. One, 170-pounder Randy Caris, already has 100 career wins while three others – Kyle Patterson, Brad Radabaugh and Joe Nauman - should eclipse the 100-win mark in the next couple weeks.
Three of those four seniors won their matches against Genoa on Tuesday in a 42-31 loss to the Comets. Genoa was picked to win the NBC title this season while Eastwood was picked third.
“Our kids did real well,” Wyant said. “We were one match from winning, really. One match we lost in overtime, and one of my good kids didn’t get a pin that I was counting on. We’re starting to get competitive. We only have five kids returning. Everyone else in the lineup is either a first-year varsity wrestler or a freshman. We’re starting to learn how to compete and get tougher mentally.”
Patterson returns at 182 pounds, where he took eighth in the state last year as a junior. He went 49-12 a year ago, placing second at the NBC tournament, and is 9-2 this season.
“He’s very competitive and he’s a hard worker,” Wyant said. “He does a lot of extra work to be good. He’s good on takedowns; that’s probably his best thing.”
Another standout for the Eagles is Caris, a two-time league champion who won the 152-pound NBC title in 2012. Caris, who has 122 career wins, went 43-6 as a junior and is 11-0 this season.
“He’s battling a slight injury yet from soccer, where he broke his kneecap,” Wyant said. “He’s not completely healed and is having a tough time getting into shape right now, but he’s trying. He’s mentally tough and physically mean. He was one match from going to state last year.”
Radabaugh returns at 152 after taking second in the NBC. He posted a 35-19 record last year and is 10-0 this season.
“He’s another tough kid and he’s very intelligent,” Wyant said. “I think he’s going to go to the Air Force Academy. He’s a hard worker.”
Nauman, who is legally blind, won a Suburban Lakes League title two years ago and was 12-1 at heavyweight last season before having knee surgery. Nauman is 9-3 this season.
“He’s wrestling at 220 and at heavyweight, and he’s doing OK,” Wyant said. “I’m just not sure what is the better fit for him yet. He missed last year, pretty much, and he hasn’t been back long enough yet.”
Senior Adam Wolf was 29-17 and took second in the conference at 220 last season. He is competing at 195 this year and is 11-1 on the season.
“These seniors are all about the same, just good, hard-nosed, tough kids,” Wyant said. “Last year Adam couldn’t beat the other senior I had, so he had to wrestle 220. This year he’s wrestling what he weighs and is doing real well.”
Eastwood has four freshmen in the starting lineup in Eli Brown at 113 pounds, Andrew Caris (126), Mitchell Davidson (160) and Trevor Schultz (285). Juniors Kyle Clatt (120), Mat Drown (132) and Michael Glaze (138), and senior Brandon Tefft (145), who did not wrestle last year, round out the lineup.
“The freshmen are pretty good,” Wyant said. “It’s a pretty nice overall group of freshmen. Caris and Davidson were junior high state qualifiers last year. Mitchell has to wrestle up this year. He’s been wrestling 145 for me and is bumping up two weight classes. He’s a mentally tough kid and he’s not afraid of older kids.”
The Eagles opened the season by placing second at the Northwood Jim Derr Invitational. They are 3-1 in dual meets, with wins over Otsego, Woodmore and Lake.