The Hillsboro wrestling team began practicing Nov. 18. Coach Scott O’Hare said everyone has already made vast improvements.
“Our goal is to improve a little every day,” he said. “I feel like I’m getting that out of this group of guys so far.”
Last year the team struggled in duals because of open weight classes, but the team competed well in tournaments and ended the season with four state qualifiers. Two qualifiers graduated and one decided not to wrestle this year, leaving Jon Carey, wrestling 132 lbs. weight class, as the only state qualifier returning this season.
Seniors Cody Delk, 152 lbs., who is competing for his second season after suffering a shoulder injury, and Preston Nelson, 160 lbs., look strong, O’Hare said.
“Matt Reeh, 285, is moving from junior varsity and getting his first crack at varsity as a senior,” O’Hare said. “I think the past few years have made him ready and prepared to compete.”
Eight freshmen were added to the team this season, making up half of the squad.
“All of the freshmen competed in middle school so all have a little bit of experience,” O’Hare said.
Three, Travis King, Tyson Reimer, and Nathan Simhiser, began wrestling on the Hillsboro Kids Club Wrestling squad at ages 5 to 8.
“So they have quite a bit of experience, and I think they’ll do well,” O’Hare said.
O’Hare believes King will lead the freshman charge at 120 lbs.
“Since he’s wrestling at a lower weight class, he will wrestle mostly freshmen and sophomores, people closer to his experience level, where as Simhiser will wrestle at 195 and be wrestling mostly juniors and seniors, so it might be a more difficult season for him because he lacks their varsity experience,” O’Hare said.
Of the junior class, O’Hare said the top returner would be Jesse Meier wrestling at 170 lbs.
“Jesse is probably one of the hardest working kids, and continues to improve everyday because of his work ethic,” O’Hare said.
The only other junior on the team, Jonah Liles, is on the team for the first time, and will wrestle at 145 lbs.
Sophomore Levi Mendoza will compete at the varsity level at 182 lbs., after competing almost his whole first year as varsity in the same weight class. Sophomore Franklin Jost will move from JV to varsity in either the 195- or 220-lb. weight class.
O’Hare said that the last two seasons the team has been down on numbers.
“We’re pretty well spread out across weight classes, so I don’t see having a smaller team being a disadvantage,” he said.
The squad kicks off its season at 5:30 a.m. Thursday in a dual at Halstead. Their home tournament will be Dec. 20.