Clay wrestling coach Ralph Cubberly expects his Eagles to get some stiff competition from Central Catholic and Fremont Ross in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference this season.
But really, the Eagles are looking for more than just their third straight TRAC title in 2013-14. After placing fifth at the Division I state tournament two years ago and 12th last season, Cubberly believes Clay can finish in the top 10 next spring “if we wrestle well and get the kids in the proper weight classes.”
“We have a lot of quality wrestlers who work very hard and have experience in big matches,” said Cubberly, in his third season. “We have some great senior leadership.”
Cubberly said that senior leadership comes from Gavin Nelson, Aaron Henneman, Nick Stencel, Antonio Zapata and Jared Davis.
|Clay wrestler Nick Stencel at last year's league
tournament. (Press file photo by Scott Grau)
“They all are great leaders who lead by example and do the right things,” Cubberly said. “They have a work ethic second to none, and the program is expecting good things from each of these individuals this season.”
The Eagles return five TRAC champions, nine starters and 26 lettermen from a year ago, including two-time state placer Richie Screptock. The junior, a two-time TRAC champ, placed fourth in the state at 120 pounds last year and took seventh at 113 in 2012. He is penciled in at 132 pounds this season.
Davis, a 126-pounder, is a three-time state qualifier who placed seventh in the state at 106 two years ago. Stencel returns at 160 after taking fifth at the state tourney a year ago.
Zapata (285) was a state qualifier last year and Nelson (138) was a state alternate. Sophomore 182-pounder Matt Stencel was a district placer, while Aaron Henneman (120), junior Caleb Nelson (145), senior Darren Todd (152) and senior Brian Richmond (195) are returning district qualifiers.
The rest of the projected lineup includes freshman Nick Henneman at 106, either freshman Diego Coates or sophomore Evan True at 113, junior Andy Howard at 170, Richmond or junior Kevin Witt at 195, and junior Tyler Koester at 220.
“This team worked very hard this offseason by competing in the Lake Erie Freestyle Club, along with a three-week training camp in preparation for two (offseason) dual-meet tournaments,” Cubberly said.
The Eagles won the 25-team Ashland Summer Duals and placed second out of 45 teams in the big-school division at the Disney Duals in Orlando, Fla. A few Clay wrestlers also competed at the Cadet and Junior National Freestyle Championships in Fargo, N.D.