BELPRE - Head coach Scott Adams has "a pretty good team returning" for Belpre's wrestling season, and with six district qualifiers back, he expects that "we'll be quite competitive again this year."
After all, the Golden Eagles last season were the Ohio Division III Southeast sectional team champions, as "our boys seemed to peak at the right time," said Adams, after "a week before, finishing a strong second in the TVC (championship) meet."
Although Adams doesn't have all the weight classes filled for this year, "I've got boys at 11 of the 14 weights." he said.
The six district qualifiers returning for the Golden Eagle grapplers are led by sophomore Gavin Stalnaker, who as a mere freshman last season not only finished fourth in the district tournament, but by doing that also qualified for the state tournament.
Stalnaker went 32-8 last season, and "was very solid for us as just a freshman, winning a lot of matches," said Adams. Stalnaker wrestled at 106 pounds last year, but "will be starting out this season at 113, and possibly going back to 106 later on in the year," said Adams.
Other returning district qualifiers are seniors Jamie Barrett and Hayden Lowe, juniors Manney Tullius and Daniel Law, and sophomore Matthew Colvin.
Golden Eagles wrestling
Head coach: Scott Adams, 9th year
Assistant coaches: Roger Hite, Steve Lowe, Dan Law
Last season: TVC tournament runner-up; Ohio Division III Southeast sectional champion with six returning district qualifiers, including sophomore Gavin Stalnaker, who went on to qualify for the state tournament as a freshman
Jamie Barrett (195), Hayden Lowe (285), Zach Davis (120), Ethan Wiggers (152), Dakota McDaniel (220)
Manney Tullius (138), Daniel Law (145)
Gavin Stalnaker (106 or 113), Matthew Colvin (170), Kole Counts (160), Shane Whealdon (170), Alex Gainer (182), Jake Hall (160)
Issac Millard (160), Randall Bettinger (195)
Nov. 30: at Cambridge tournament, 10 a.m.
Dec. 11: at Caldwell w/Williamstown, 6 p.m.
Dec. 14: at Jackson tournament (Vinton County HS), 10 a.m.
Dec. 28: at Cardington Duals, 10 a.m.
Jan. 3-4: at Logan Elm tournament, 5 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday
Jan. 8: Marietta w/Warren, 6 p.m.
Jan. 15: at Morgan w/Waterford, 6 p.m.
Jan. 18: at Amanda Clearcreek tournament, 10 a.m.
Jan. 22: at State Duals (regional quarterfinals), TBA
Jan. 29: at State Duals (regional semifinals), TBA.
Jan. 30: at Parkersburg South w/George Washington, 6 p.m.
Feb. 1: at TVC championship tournament (Alexander HS), 9:30 a.m.
Feb. 5: at State Duals (regional finals), TBA
Feb. 8: at State Duals (championship semifinals and finals), TBA
Feb. 14-15: at sectional tournament (Alexander HS), 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday
Feb. 21-22: at district tournament (Philo HS), 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday
Feb. 27-March 1: at state tournament (Schottenstein Center, Ohio State Univ., Columbus)
Overall, said Adams, this year's 15-member team "has a lot of experience, good athletes, and I've got high expectations for them this season."
Adams said his lineup this year "will probably consist of about five seniors, two juniors and four sophomores."
Senior Zach Davis, who returns at 120 pounds, "has been a district qualifier in the past and has a lot of mat time, so we're expecting very good things out of him," said Adams. Tullius will be at 138 this season, after going 37-8 last year at 132 with "a heartbreaking loss in the district," said Adams.
At 145 is Law, who's coming off a shoulder injury from last year "that affected him the biggest part of the season, yet he still was able to qualify for the district and have a good year," said Adams, in his 9th season as head coach.
Senior Ethan Wiggers, who will be at 152 pounds, has been a starter for Adams since his freshman year. "He's a good, physically-strong wrestler, who we're hoping for some big things out of his senior year," said Adams.
At 160 is sophomore Kole Counts, who "won his way into the starting lineup this year in a wrestle-off," said Adams. "He's shown a lot of improvement."
Colvin, who will be at 170 to start out the season, was another district qualifier as just a freshman. "He's a very solid wrestler, physically strong with quickness and good mat presence," said Adams. "We're looking for some big thing from him this year."
Also, sophomore Shane Whealdon, will be "a light 170-pounder," said Adams. "But we'll get some matches out of him."
Barrett will be at 195 this season after wrestling mostly 220 in his career. Belpre's lone TVC champion last year, Barrett finished 33-10. "He's done a good job leading the team as a senior, and we have high expectations for him as well," said Adams.
At 220 is senior Dakota McDaniel, a starter last year who suffered an early season-ending injury, "but is wrestling really well in practice right now," said Adams.
At heavyweight (285 pounds) is Lowe, a four-year starter for Belpre, who "has worked hard in the off-season and has committed himself to wrestling this year," said Adams.
Also, sophomore Alex Gainer will probably be at 182 pounds this season.