Veteran Waite wrestling coach Carmen Amenta is either playing mind games with his troops, or he knows deep down his young Indians will have an uphill climb en route to winning their first City League title since 2005.
"Clay is loaded and will be battling it out with Central, and everybody else will be trying for third," said Amenta, in his 19th season. "We have a lot of youngsters in the lineup and Clay has 11 seniors who are very good, and Central has six or seven seniors who are very good.
"We're going to be battling for third or fourth place. We're going to wait until those other guys graduate and we'll be up there challenging again. We're looking forward to the season to get rolling. Hopefully, we stay healthy and get several kids down to the state tournament this year."
Waite has, in fact, gotten the season rolling, taking fifth at a tournament in Mount Vernon and second at another tournament at Dublin Coffman.
"We wrestled pretty tough," Amenta said. "Our conditioning was fine and we kept on attacking for six minuites, whether we were behind or ahead. We won several matches we were behind in during the third period and that's always a good sign. We got one of the toughest tournaments in the country coming up over Christmas in Brecksville, where there will be 177 state qualifiers and placers."
The Indians also competed against Michigan powers Bedford and Dundee on Wednesday night.
Last season, Waite placed just sixth in the CL but went on to have two seniors advance to the state tournament. Alex Harrick did not place at 140 and Scott Fuller took seventh at 119.
Three district qualifiers return in seniors Jacob Wilson, who finished 33-11, Tyler Derr (23-20) and Tyler Benton (35-7). Wilson is moving up to 135 from 130, Derr down to 152 from 160 and Benton remains at 189.
"Wilson got bigger over the summer," Amenta said. "He's a pretty hard worker and he's intense in the (practice) room. He is one of our team leaders and we're expecting him to get to the state tournament.
"Derr came down a weight class and put a hard summer in and lost some weight. He wrestled with the Lake Erie Wrestling Club and the Mat Rats, and we're expecting him to work hard on the mat. We're looking forward to his senior season."
"Benton put a good summer in with us. He went with the Mat Rats also. He's been weightlifting and he is a pretty thick, strong kid. He was one match away from the state tournament last year and we are looking for him to get there this year, but 189 is a pretty tough weight class in this area."
The Indians' other returning starters are junior Tim Enright at 125, sophomore Chico Cloyne (140), junior Ray Salidivar (160) and sophomore Cammron Griffin (215). All of those wrestlers finished around .500 or below last season.
"They took their lumps last year," Amenta said, "and we'll see how the summer work pays off for them this year."
Amenta added that freshmen Jacob Conine (119) and Angelo Amenta (112), the coach's son, "have wrestled pretty well so far this season."
"They've already had two varsity tournaments and Jacob was the runner-up at Mount Vernon and at Dublin Coffman," coach Amenta said. "He got beat in the finals by state placers at both tournaments. Angelo was fifth at Mount Vernon and second at Dublin Coffman."
Armando Aranda, a junior, will wrestle at 171 pounds and freshman Chad Peyton will be in the mix at 215 and heavyweight. Waite does not have a 103-pounder.