Eastwood wrestling coach Joe Wyant said wrestling practice heading into the Eagles’ season-opening tournament Dec. 7 at the Gibsonburg Invitational has been “really fun so far.”
It should, indeed, be an interesting season for the Eagles and their fifth-year coach. Eastwood graduated six seniors off last year’s team — with a combined 224 wins between them — and has no juniors on this year’s squad. This is, to put it mildly, a very young team.
“I have five sophomores and all are starting, and four of them started last year as freshmen,” said Wyant, whose team took second behind Genoa at last year’s Northern Buckeye Conference tournament. “I have 13 freshmen and five of them have never wrestled before.”
Eastwood has no returning state qualifiers or district qualifiers from a year ago. Wyant said he and his wrestlers are taking things day by day, one step at a time. It will be a long process, he said, adding that “in two years we’re going to be really good.”
“The sophomores I have are good wrestlers,” the coach said. “Half of the freshmen I’ve got can be pretty good, too. Out of the 18 freshmen and sophomores, I think 12 of them could be pretty good wrestlers. I’m really happy with the turnout this year. We’re going to take our lumps, but by the end of the season I think we’ll be OK.
“We can be competitive; we’re going to get better. These kids work really hard. They probably work as hard as any team I’ve ever had. They want to learn, and it’s been fun with them so far.”
The Eagles will have freshmen at 106 pounds (Josh Bierley), 126 (Nick Radabaugh or Tyler Fry), 170 (Austin Meece), 182 (Jason Ernsthausen), 195 (Zane Zientek) and 220 (Tyler Tudor).
Sophomore Eli Brown moves up to 120 from 113 pounds, where he was right around .500 in 2012-13.
“Eli’s a hard worker,” Wyant said. “He does lot of camps in the offseason, and I think he’ll be much better than he was last year.”
Senior Mat Drown returns at 132 pounds after compiling a 27-15 record there last season, while sophomore Hunter Sutton or possibly freshman Michael Burket will compete at 138.
“Matt is strong kid and he goes after them,” Wyant said. “He’s not afraid of anybody. He should place high (at the NBC tourney). Hunter was a backup last year but did wrestle 31 matches at 138, so he got a lot of experience. He is a hard-nosed kid. Michael is probably the best freshman coming in. He was really good in junior high.”
Andrew Caris went 27-15 and won the conference title at 126 pounds last year, but has moved up to 145 this season. The sophomore is the younger brother of former Eastwood state placer Randy Caris (170), who is now wrestling at the University of Findlay.
“Andrew is probably the best wrestler I have,” Wyant said. “He was at 126 last year and has gotten a lot bigger. He’s improved quite a bit. He finished really strong last year and had a nice run at the end of the season.”
Sophomore Mitchell Davidson (152) was the NBC runner-up at 160 last season despite weighing in at only 145-150 pounds.
“He’s a really tough kid,” Wyant said, “one of the best, hard-nosed kids we’ve got. He was 30-19 last year wrestling up a weight. I think he should have a big year.”
Senior Michael Glaze (160) and sophomore Trevor Schultz (285) round out the Eagles’ lineup. Glaze had a .500 record at 138 last year.
“He has put a little weight on,” Wyant said. “He was a first-team all-district football player and he’s pretty tough. He’s probably the hardest worker on our team. He wants to really be a leader and I hope he has a good season.”
Wyant said Schultz, who struggled last season, has done a good job of getting into better wrestling shape this year.
“Trevor’s a good kid,” Wyant said. “He lost a lot of weight and gained a lot of experence last year. He’s so much better looking physically than last year, and that is so much better for him. He just works hard. I think he can be a .500 wrestler this year. He struggled last year, but he’s an athlete now.”