Despite the fact that the Suburban Lakes League coaches picked Elmwood to win the league tournament in 2009, five-time defending champion Eastwood plans to have some say in the matter.
The Eagles, who graduated six of their top wrestlers from a year ago, were picked to finish second behind Elmwood, last year's SLL runner-up.
"With the tradition we've had the last five years, this team doesn't want to be the first team to lose in the last six years," said Joe Wyant, in his seventh year as head coach Ralph Cubberly's assistant.
That's one of our goals, to be the league champ. Elmwood has a very good team. It's going to be real close for the league title. We're both very comparable teams. If we wrestle well, I think we can win it."
Coach Cubberly spent part of his holiday watching his two sons, Ryan and Eric, compete for Central Michigan's wrestling team in a tournament at Northwestern.
Eric Cubberly, a freshman 157-pounder at CMU, won the 160-pound state title last season en route to a 50-1 record. He also holds Eastwood's career win mark.
Graduating along with Cubberly last spring were Jeremy Foster, who took second at the state tourney at 189, Evan Roth, who placed seventh at 171, state qualifier Andrew Long (140) and heavyweights Grant Hale and Corey Bettenbrock, who is playing football at Ohio Northern. Roth is wrestling at Kent State.
This year's team is off to a solid start. The Eagles took second place at the 20-team Bowling Green Bobcat Duals, losing to Division I Mayfield 47-28 in the finals. Seniors David Eaton (135) and Ashton Brown (189) both went 9-0 at the BG Duals.
On Dec. 27-28, Eastwood took 15th place at the 45-team Greater Miami Valley Tournament at Vandalia-Butler High School near Dayton. The Eagles placed fourth in the small-school division in their first year in the tournament.
Brown placed fifth with a 5-2 record, and junior Seth Hoffmann went 4-3 to place sixth at 160.
Joining Brown, Eaton and Hoffman in Eastwood's starting lineup are freshmen Johnny Shumay (103), Justin Burket (112) and Casey Horn (140), sophomore Alex Smith (145), juniors Tyler Hahn (125), Zach Lopez (130), Matt Schling (215) and Josh Proch (275), and seniors Kasey LaCourse (119), Alex Depew (152) and Luke Eschenbrenner (171).
LaCourse, Hahn, Lopez, Eaton, Depew, Hoffman and Brown are returning starters. Eaton was a state qualifier at 130 last season and finished 47-14, while Lopez (32-23), Depew (21-9), Hoffman (47-11) and Brown (42-12) were all district qualifiers.
"They all work hard and they really want to practice," Wyant said. "I gave them (Monday and Tuesday) off, to come back Wednesday, but the five seniors wanted to practice Tuesday. They all want to get better. They felt they didn't do as well as they wanted to last weekend. The kids all want to work."