Perrysburg is in prime position to once again dominate the Northern Lakes League as the Yellow Jackets have 10 returning starters from a team that cruised to a third straight title last season.
Perrysburg romped to the NLL title last year, going 7-0 in dual meets. The Yellow Jackets won the tournament title by 122.5 points.
Senior J.P. Newton (152 pounds) is gunning for his fourth straight individual NLL title. Senior Rocco Caywood (182) is shooting for his third consecutive championship.
Junior Cale Bonner (285) and sophomores Mario Guillen (113) and Brock Jones (126) also are back after winning NLL titles.
“We have some really good individuals returning,” Perrysburg coach Sam Cotterman said. “We will be strong in our lower and upper weights.”
The Yellow Jackets used the NLL success as a springboard to place 13th at the Division I state meet.
Newton, Caywood, Bonner, and Guillen all qualified for state.
Cotterman, who has led the Yellow Jackets to NLL titles in each of his three years at the helm, said the middle-weight classes are the only question mark.
“We have a ton of individual talent,” he said. “But they want to become a great 'team.'”
Perrysburg had place winners in all 14 weight classes at last year's NLL meet.
Napoleon, which placed second last season, and Anthony Wayne are expected to be title challengers.
Napoleon coach Jason Seiler has nine returning starters and the Wildcats should be strong in the lower and upper weight classes.
“We are coming off a second-place finish in the league last year and anything less than that this year would be a disappointment,” Seiler said.
Anthony Wayne coach Ryan Donley has 11 returning letter winners. The Generals are young but solid through the middle weights.
“Perrysburg is the clear frontrunner but after that it gets awfully competitive,” Donley said. “If we wrestle well and continue to improve I believe that we could compete for that second spot. However, the same can be said for each and every one of the teams in the NLL this year.”
Here's a look at the teams in predicted order of finish:
Perrysburg posted a 20-6 dual meet record last year. The Yellow Jackets are 44-12 overall and 19-2 in the NLL under Cotterman.
There are 37 total wrestlers in the program, including eight seniors and 16 letter winners.
Newton (41-8), who will wrestle at Ohio State, placed third at the state meet. He is looking to become just the sixth wrestler in NLL history to win four individual league titles.
Guillen (35-9) finished fifth at the state meet as a freshman. Bonner (38-11) placed eighth at state last season. Caywood (33-7) is a two-time state qualifier. Jones went 35-13 as a freshman. Not to be overlooked is senior Kadin Llewellyn (195), who went 26-13 last season.
“Our seniors will be our leaders,” Cotterman said. “This is the first group that has been with this coaching staff their entire fours years and they know how we do things. We also have some great freshman that will make an immediate impact.”
The Yellow Jackets have to fill some spots in the middle of their lineup.
“We have the potential at these weights, but we will need to continue to learn how to practice to better prepare us for our schedule,” Cotterman said.
He said prior classes have set the bar high for this group.
“We want to surpass last year's success and set the bar higher for the next class,” Cotterman said. “We want to be on the board in Columbus.”
Anthony Wayne (15-13 overall, 4-3 NLL) has a good mix of experience and talent.
“I think we have a good young team,” Donley said. “We will have some young kids in the lighter weights but they are experienced wrestlers who we expect to do well.”
Senior Vince Schneider (120) is a two-time NLL champ. He was a sectional runner-up and district placer last year. Schneider went 37-13 last year and has 101 career wins which is just 14 short of the school record held by Caleb Metcalf.
“Vince Schneider is a leader, captain, and anchor for us in the lighter weights,” Donley said. “He was one match away from the state tournament.”
Seniors Jordan Dennie (145) and Jimmy Jagodzinski (152) also are back. Dennie (17-19) took third at the NLL meet and sectional meet and was a district qualifier. Jagodzinski (22-19) took third in the league and at sectionals to qualify for districts.
Junior Reese Isenberg (132) was 10-14 and was a district qualifier. Sophomore Collin Keil (160, 27-15) was third in the NLL and sectional runner-up. Sophomore Lafe Pitzen (182, 7-11) placed sixth at the sectional meet.
Others expected to contribute include juniors Scotty Harder (170), Austin Thakur (195), and Blake Betz (220), sophomores Cameron Yates (126), Michael Jagodzinski, and Andrew Benschoter (285).
Freshmen Caleb Yates (106) and Cody Moosman (113) are part of a very strong class.
“Our upper weights are improving,” Donley said.
Napoleon went 20-12 and 6-1 in the NLL under Seiler, who is in his 11th season, last year.
The Wildcats have four seniors among 25 wrestlers.
Sophomore Seth Beard (113), who is off to a 15-0 start, finished second in the state last year.
“He is coming off a heartbreaking ultimate tiebreaker loss in overtime of the state finals last year,” Seiler said. “He will be our go-to guy. We are still searching for our school's first state champion and that is Seth’s goal.”
Junior Ian Blackwood (182) is 12-3 and senior Justin Miller (138) has a 11-4 mark so far.
Others expected to contribute are freshman Charley Bohls (106), junior Alex Pettit (5-1 at 220), sophomore Zach Leatherman (8-7 at 195), and junior Seth Gerken (11-4 at 285).
“Our lower and upper weights will be strong and we're looking for guys to step up in the middle and be solid contributors,” Seiler said.
Even though the Wildcats have several returnees they are still a young team.
“It should be a very interesting year for us,” Seiler said. “I think a lot of our success will be based on how well our newcomers can fill the holes. Our goal is to have multiple kids wrestling down in Columbus for state.”
Maumee (6-15, 3-4), which won back-to-back NLL titles in 2008 and 2009, has 18 total wrestlers.
Coach Mark Contos, who is in his third season, has 10 letter winners back.
Senior Casey Cole (120), who has been injured with a concussion, went 15-18 and took fifth at sectionals. Senior Evan Goyetche (160) took fourth in the NLL. Senior Jacob Arroyo (220) was 4-6 last year.
Junior Ryan Camargo (126) placed sixth in the sectional and had a 16-19 record last year. Junior Austin Sholl (132) was a district qualifier as a freshman and fifth at sectional, finishing with a 13-20 record.
Junior Jeff Goatley (152) was 13-14 last year after seeing his season end due to injury. Junior Anthony Arroyo (170) is a defending NLL and sectional champ and district qualifier. Arroyo went 26-10 last season.
Junior Cahle Puhl (182) was second in the NLL and fifth in the sectional with a 25-13 record. Sophomore Louie LaChapelle (113) was sixth in the sectional and fourth in NLL, finishing with a 12-15 mark.
“They are hard workers and they are great kids,” Contos said. “They are remembering a lot of stuff we have put in the last few years. They need to stay focused on their techniques.”
The Panthers will have holes in their lineup and may have to give points away due to forfeits.
“We have some kids that could be finalists in the majority of the tournaments we are in,” Contos said.
Springfield (1-6 NLL last year) has 21 wrestlers including seven seniors for third-year coach Mark Nagel.
He has six returning starters: Kyle Buck, Donte Sortor, Jacob Obregon, Donnie Summers, Ross Lonsway, and Kamal Smith.
Lonsway (195) is a senior who has posted a 14-1 record. Summers (220), who also is a senior, is 10-4.
Smith, a senior heavyweight, has a 14-2 record.
“Our strengths this year will be our big guys,” Nagel said. “We return a lot of starters at the top of our lineup. Lonsway and Smith will score a lot of team points this season.”
However, consistent improvement at the lower weight classes will be key to how much success the Blue Devils have this season. The lineup consists mostly of freshmen from 113 to 145.
“This is a much improved team and should be more competitive in league matches,” Nagel said. “I would expect to finish in the top half of the league.”
Southview (15-11, 5-2) has three seniors and eight starters back among 16 wrestlers. Paul Ruiz, a former Springfield wrestler, takes over as coach.
Senior Tanner Ruiz (120) was 29-11 and is a three-time district qualifier and two-time NLL runner up. Senior Hunter Topolski (220) had a 29-8 record and was a district qualifier.
Junior Jared Grunberg (132) placed second in the NLL and was a district qualifier, finishing with a 21-19 record. Junior Jake Zastrow (138) has not been in the lineup the last two years but had a successful junior high career.
Sophomore Jacob Billings (113) went 15-6 as a freshman.
“One of the strengths of our wrestlers is their resiliency,” Ruiz said. “Our student athletes have a willingness to learn and try new techniques.”
The Cougars have young and inexperienced wrestlers filling several spots.
“Our team is better positioned to compete in tournaments,” Ruiz said. “These next two years will be rebuilding years. By working our system ... the team will become successful in the future years.”
Bowling Green (2-17, 2-5) will be led once again by Matt Jacobs, who coached the Bobcats from 2002-06.
BG has 14 wrestlers, including five seniors and eight returning starters.
His top wrestlers are: seniors T.J. Jacobs (220), Timo Anderson (285), Caleb Matheny (138), Micheal Smith (182), Chuck Kavanough (145), and sophomore Manny Carillo (195).
“Our biggest asset is our seniors,” Jacobs said. “They have been real leaders picking up the tempo in the room and setting the example for the underclassmen to follow for the rebuilding of the Bowling Green wrestling program.”
Northview (0-7) has just one senior but 25 total return for coach RadaEltatawy, who is in his fourth season.
There are five returning starters for the Wildcats.
Junior Mahdi Jaludi (120) was 26-6, a district qualifier, and placed second in the NLL. Sophomore Nick Adams (138) went 20-5 but broke his arm last year. Junior Keith Storleader (145) was 7-14 last season. Senior D.J. Schumacher (160) wrestled up a weight class last year to fill a need and was 16-12.
Two freshmen, Trever Hartbarger (132) and Jessop Pawlczyk (182), bring promise to the lineup.
“Our kids wrestle well on their feet,” Eltatawy said. “They are hard-nosed wrestlers and go all the way to the end.”
Northview has had injuries and will have about four holes in the lineup.
“We are building up our program. Every year we are getting tougher and tougher,” Eltatawy said.