CALDWELL - Head coach Tom Brown will lead a very young Caldwell wrestling team onto the mats this year after placing in fifth place in the districts last season.
Of the 16 grapplers on the Caldwell roster, 12 of them are either freshman or sophomores.
Those young wrestlers have some mighty big shoes to fill as among those lost to graduation are three-time state qualifier Kale Rayner and two-time state qualifier Jared Leasure.
Times file photo
Caldwell Kameron Rayner, above in red, competes in the state wrestling tournament last season.
The Redskins will also need to find replacements for a pair of former district qualifiers in Caleb VanMeter and Chance Stoffel.
Compounding things for Brown and his coaching staff is the loss of Justin Hardesty for the season after the senior suffered a serious knee injury during the Redskins historic football season.
Many teams would not be able to recover from such adversity but look for the 10-time defending Pioneer Valley Conference champions to rebound nicely as they still have a pair of state qualifiers returning as well as three returning district qualifiers.
Head Coach: Tom Brown
Assistant Coaches: Dustin Robinson, Justin Seebach, Kenny Robinson
Sheldon ArcherFr. 182/195
Chance Rucker So.220/285
Dec. 11BELPRE, WILLIAMSTOWN6 p.m.
Dec. 13Barnesville Inv.4:30 p.m.
Dec. 14Barnesville Inv.10 p.m.
Dec. 19at Marietta, John Glenn5:30p.m.
Dec. 21PVC1 p.m.
Dec. 27at Gallia Academy10 a.m.
Jan. 3at Tri Valley (Big Dawg Duals)4 p.m.
Jan. 4at Tri Valley (Big Dawg Duals)10 p.m.
Jan. 16OVAC (Wesbanco Arena)5 p.m.
Jan. 17OVAC (Wesbanco Arena)11 p.m.
Jan. 18OVAC (Wesbanco Arena)12 p.m.
Jan. 22State Dual MeetTBA
Jan. 29 State Dual Regional SemisTBA
Feb. 1Buckeye Local Panther Classic9 a.m.
Feb. 5State Dual Regional FinalsTBA
Feb. 6OVAC Dual MeetTBD
Feb. 8State Dual Meet FinalsTBA
Feb. 14-15 Sectionals TBA
Feb. 21-22 Districts TBA
Feb. 27State 3 p.m.
Feb. 28State 10 a.m.
Mar. 1State 10 a.m.
Senior Kameron Rayner had a big year last season as he claimed a sectional championship, finished runner up in the districts before placing seventh at state.
With the injury to Hardesty, three-time letter winner Tyler Wiley is the only other senior on the Caldwell roster after qualifying as a state alternate in 2012.
Junior Tyson Cartell is a two-time letter winner and a district alternate while all six Caldwell sophomores earned their letters last year in their rookie seasons.
Chance Rucker, Austin Cobb, David Ivey, Kolby Rayner, Clay Poling and Michael Haga earned their varsity letters last year.
Brown is quite high on his freshman class which features Brennan Sailing, Adam Schockling, Cody Davis, Blake Pickenpaugh, Jason Allen and Sheldon Archer.
Caldwell appears geared up to improve on last years 15-11 dual meet record while eying their 11th consecutive PVC crown.
With River exiting the PVC at seasons end, this could be the final go round for Caldwell in the conference that will be down to just three schools with wrestling programs.