WILLIAMSTOWN - The bigger the stage, the better Williamstown wrestling responds.
Last season, the Yellowjackets finished ninth in Class AA/A behind an individual state title from 126-pounder Dalton George and a runner-up finish by 145-pounder Jake Tracewell. David Hastings gave Williamstown a third placewinner after taking fifth at 170 pounds.
With all three wrestlers returning for their senior year, it only makes sense why the Yellowjackets were ranked fifth preseason. Giving Williamstown depth are state qualifiers Dalton Smith, Brye Mullenix, Austin Raines and Logan Lindsey.
"Dalton, Jake and David could very well be wrestling Saturday night at Huntington," Williamstown second-year coach Ryan Scott said. "It's a long season and wrestling is tough, but Dalton wants to go all the time and wrestle.
"Jake is a heck of an athlete - he is one of those guys that anything that he picks up he does well. Things come natural to him. As for David, he is a horse. He is moving up a couple of weight classes and I think that should help him because he is so athletic."
George, who wrapped up a 33-0 season as a junior, will wrestle at 132 and look to qualify for the state finals for a fourth straight year. Tracewell figures to bump up to 160, while Hastings is slated to compete at 195.
"Dalton has to be on the short list of kids for the Dutton Award," Scott said. "Even with the new weight class, it shouldn't affect how he does. He is one of those special wrestlers you get every once in a while."
Also returning with an impressive resume in their possession are Smith, who was 32-14 while placing third at regionals at 106, along with Raines, who posted a 24-17 record and took fourth at regionals. Lindsey's season at 138 resulted in a 26-18 mark and a fourth-place showing at regionals. Mullenix is another fixture in the Williamstown lineup who capped off a 27-16 sophomore campaign by placing fifth at regionals.
Assisting Scott this season are Cody MacIver, Mark Board, Timmy Haddox and Gary Tuttle.
"We had 11 to 12 football players, so for a while it was a skeleton crew practicing with five high school wrestlers and 11 middle school wrestlers," Scott said. "It's been a tough transition because we are three weeks behind, but it's early in the season and we don't get too worried about what happens now. We want to do well in February.
"We'll be in shape. That's one thing I make sure of."