Twelve young men will make up Tyler Consolidated High School's varsity wrestling team this season, good numbers for most years in the sport at the school, but with the potential of this years athletes, low numbers could hurt.
Of the 14 weight classes, 106 to 285, the Silver Knights will likely forfeit at least five from the get-go of any competition they participate in because there are not enough wrestlers to fill all the weight slots.
"We're going to be about 30 points behind before we even start most matches with another team, because we are missing several weight classes," said head wrestling coach, Chad Snider. "The lower weights especially, they're going to kill us when it comes to points. So far this season we're missing a 106, 113, 126, and 132 weight classes. We have 12 guys, and that's great, but not in these lower weight classes. Most of them fall between 138 - 182. And that's going to cost us team points."
"Individually though, we're looking for good things to happen for several of our guys."
For the first time in several years, the sport of high school wrestling made some significant changes in weight classes. A shift upwards took place early this year, beginning with the 103-pound weight class moving the lowest weight for a high school wrestler to 106. In fact, new weight changes took place in 10 of the 14 weight classes putting the new scale at: 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285.
Returning as a top wrestler for the team, with the potential to make things happen in the lower weights for the Silver Knights is senior John Brosky, wrestling at 120. Brosky was one of only two Silver Knight wrestlers making an appearance at the West Virginia State Wrestling Championships last year in Huntington, finishing fourth in the Region at 119.
"Brosky is at the peak of his career and we have high expectations for his finale at the state tourney," Snider said of the senior. "Unfortunately, we lost a valuable asset to the team at 126, Joe Henthorn, due to injury. He will not be participating this year, but we hope he'll return next year." Henthorn, a junior, also took fourth place at the Regionals last year and represented the Knights at the state tournament.
Falling into weight classes after Brosky for the Silver are: 138 - Raphe Bailes, junior; 145 - Josh Ruble sophomore and Andrew Sole, senior; 152 - Hunter LeMasters, junior; 160 - Skyler Leasure, sophomore and Mario Mantecon, junior; 170 - Levi Henderson, junior and Spencer Billings, freshman; 182 - Dustin Tawney, junior; 220 - Dakota Allen, senior; and 285 - Cecil Spencer, sophomore.
"We have an athletic team, but many of our wrestlers are brand new to wrestling," the coach said. "Many of our matches will be won with basics. If we are conditioned and have a knowledge of the basics, we will be competitive. So far our conditioning is improving every day."
"I expect a couple to make it to Huntington this year, but as always, it would be great to have everyone go."
The wrestling program at Tyler Consolidated has a storied past as a close family unit, rather than a team, and under the direction of coaches Chad Snider and assistant Steve Blake, this tradition will clearly continue. Alumni often return to lend their support, tying the past with present and future wrestlers, where the middle school team under the direction of coach Eric McKeever plays a huge part as a feeder program.
The Knight wrestlers are hoping to add family and fans to their family unit this season, inviting one and all to attend as many competitions as possible.
"We are hoping to have more fans come out this year to support us," Snider said. "There will be plenty of opportunities to watch the team in action as we are hosting the annual Knights Wrestle-A-Bout, the LKC tournament, as well as the class A/AA Region I tournament at the end of the season, and of course we also have several duals scheduled."
The Silver Knight wrestlers are looking forward to a great season with lots of competition both at home and on the road. The team will head to the Ritchie County Tournament for their debut matches of the year and will travel to Magnolia for a dual on Dec. 14. The Knights Wrestle-A-Bout, which will host several teams from around the Ohio Valley will take place at Tyler Consolidated on Dec. 17.