Duneland Athletic Conference
Wrestlers to watch: Chris Katsafaros, Sr., 145; Jack Davison, So., 138; Joe Ponda, Sr., 195; Cliff Eiring, So., 132; Jaycee Jensen, Sr., 160-171.
Outlook: The Trojans have a good mix of experience and youth that's boosted by the return of seniors Dana Konchar (182) and Ryley Harlow (Hwt.), who missed last season with injuries. Semistate qualifier Alex Katsafaros is sidelined after knee surgery.
Quote: "We don't have a blue-chipper right now, but what we have is a bunch of really hard-working kids. It's hard to tell their potential right now, but once they all get to the right weight, we'll be OK." !~ coach Chris Joll
Wrestlers to watch: Brett Ervin, Sr., 120; Dustin Schurg, Sr., 152; Jacob Hazi, Sr., 170; Matt Langbehn, Sr., 182; Quinton Klinger, Sr., 285.
Outlook: Four-time state champion Jason Tsirtsis is gone, but coach Scott Vlink has a lot coming back. A big, talented senior class has the Bulldogs ranked No. 4 in the Indianamat.com power rankings.
Wrestlers to watch: Brandon Truver, So., 113; Matt Lechowicz, Sr., 120; Isaac Popovich, Sr., 195; Cody Christenson, So., 152; Gelen Robinson, Jr., 220.
Outlook: Gelen Robinson is back after what coach Rod Wartman calls a "disputed" state semifinal match. There are eight semistate qualifiers returning.
Quote: "This is the post Kyle Ayersman era for L.C. wrestling, but we plan to be as good or better than the previous three years." !~ Wartman
Wrestlers to watch: Mike Eldridge, Jr.; Ben Standifer, Sr.
Outlook: The Slicers had six underclassmen qualify for regionals last year. Eldridge and Standifer both reached semistate.
Wrestlers to watch: Michael Garza, Jr., 106; Adam Garcia, Sr., 120; Jacob Covaciu, Fr., 132; Bobby Steveson, So., 160; Eric DeLuna, Sr., 182; Shawn Streck, Fr., 285.
Outlook: Expectations are high. Indianamat.com has the Pirates tied with Yorktown as the second best team in the state.
Quote: "I think we are going to have a good mixture of experienced seniors and juniors with a couple of sprinkles of competitive and talented freshman and sophomores, but we will definitely be a better team come sectional time." !~ coach David Maldonado
Wrestlers to watch: Josh Rudd, Sr., 170; Gerrard Williams, Sr., 132; Max Harmon, Sr., 138; Dylan Jensen, Fr., 152-160; Dennis Rucker, Fr., 138.
Outlook: New coach Luke Snyder has about 20 wrestlers. The Wolves' lineup will be two or three weight classes short.
Quote: "The idea is to build a program. We want to improve over the year and get some kids to regionals, semistate and hopefully state." !~ Snyder
Wrestlers to watch: Julian Torres, Sr., 132; Jason Spence, Sr., 138; Danny Roach, Sr., 152; Stephon Wilkins, Sr., 145; Mykel Lundy, Jr., 106.
Outlook: The Indians return most of the team that won a sectional. A bigger influx of football players will enhance the upper weights.
Quote: "It just seems different in the room. From a year ago, when I took over, the program's grown in every aspect. Everything's finally in place. I think we can go with anybody. The biggest thing is getting the kids believing they can do it." !~ coach Leroy Vega
Wrestlers to watch: Riley George, Sr., 138-145; Tyler Schwartz, Sr., 106; Alex Bravo, Sr., 113; Chris Gallo, Jr., 120; Matt Neal, 138-145, Sr.
Outlook: The senior-led Vikings return 12 starters. Numbers (50) are on the rise, and the most productive offseason in recent memory is expected to pay dividends. Luke Davis and Max Buckley are both coming off knee injuries, among three or four regulars who will be out of the lineup in the opening weeks.
Quote: "We'll definitely be better. I can assure you of that. We're not going to settle for where we were at. We've got a few underclassmen who will surprise some people. The system's taking hold." !~ coach Jim Smith
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
Wrestlers to watch: Chris Diaz, So., 113; Noe Gutierrez, Sr., 120; Ismael Quintanilla, Jr., 126.
Outlook: The Pioneers have every class filled except 106 with 25 kids in camp for new coach Matt Atherton. The program is in building mode, though. Ahterton expects a lot from Diaz, Gutierrez and Quintanilla, whom he calls captains and leaders in the classroom.
Quote: "The intensity is palpable in the wrestling room during practices." !~Atherton
Wrestlers to watch: David Ramirez, So., 145; Ramiro Cazares, Sr., 160; Derrick Medley, Sr., 195.
Outlook: Medley earned 30 wins and was a semistate qualifier a year ago. Things get tougher in the postseason this season with Merrillville being moved into the sectional.
Quote: "The numbers in the room are small, but the quality of wrestlers is really good." !~ coach Devin Sanders
Wrestlers to watch: Daniel Flores, So., 106; Jesse Woods-Curtis, Sr., 182.
Outlook: The Wildcats lost semistate qualifier Romeral Harris but return the super-athletic Woods-Curtis.
Greater South Shore Conference
Wrestlers to watch: Mark Feliciano, Jr., 152; Damian Gomez, Sr., 160.
Outlook: The Wildcats struggle with numbers, but Feliciano and Gomez were both regional qualifiers last season.
Wrestlers to watch: Jose Villarreal, Sr., 106; Alec Noworul, Jr., 126; Doriante Bryant, Jr., 132; Nick Fowler, So., 170.
Outlook: Coach Jim Wadkins is in his 23rd season for the Warriors. Calumet lost the GSSC title match with River Forest and is looking for some revenge this season.
Quote: "We're excited about our returners providing the leadership necessary for our newcomers to step in and hit the ground running." !~Wadkins
Wrestlers to watch: Keith Durbin, Jr., 182; Manuel Guerra, So., 220; David Guerra, Sr., 285.
Outlook: The Eagles lost a lot to graduation. The Guerra brothers should be competitive in the upper weight classes.
Wrestlers to watch: Adam Davis, Sr., 145; Raul Munoz, Sr., 152; Casey Sonaty, Sr., 160; Rex Deal, Sr., 195.
Outlook: A talented senior class should keep the Spartans competitive in most meets. North Newton already has the Danny Chavez Invitational tournament title this season.
Wrestlers to watch: Ryan Brown, Sr., 126; Isaac Rentas, Jr., 138; Tyler Bernard, Sr., 182; Mike Rosario, Sr., 195; Robert Yanez, Jr., 220.
Outlook: The Ingots hope to defend their GSSC crown. Coach Brian Wesley says a new wrestling club, River Rat Wrestling, is starting to grow the program. The bigger dividends will come in the future.
Quote: "We still have a lot of work to do, but we have the guys willing to do it." !~ Wesley
Wrestlers to watch: Frank Rossodivito, Jr., 120 ; Zach Szmuc, So., 132; Noe Torres, Sr., 195.
Outlook: Jimmy Augustyn takes over the program and numbers are up. A football injury kept Torres from wrestling last season, but Augustyn expects a lot from him. Szmuc is young but has a lot of potential.
Quote: "We're going to fight hard all year and be competitive in every match." !~Augustyn
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Wrestlers to watch: Miguel Perez, So., 106; Mike Kryzston, So., 138; Bryan O'Rourke, Jr., 170; Adam Kopil, Jr., 220.
Outlook: Coach Mike Bauswell has to deal with issues related to the football team's semistate run, but there is talent returning. No 59er qualified for the regional last season. Kryzston was 15-5.
Wrestlers to watch: Eric Peek, Jr., 103; Nathan Rietz, Jr., 126; Conner Guzior, So., 132; Preston Nelson, Sr., 152.
Outlook: Coach Travis Walls says he has "40 good kids in the room." Peek, Rietz, Guzior and Nelson all qualified from semistate last year. Peek, Rietz and Nelson have all done it twice. The Panthers should compete for the NCC championship.
Quote: "A lot of experience is back from last year. (It should be a) fun year for me. "!~ Walls
Wrestlers to watch: Cody Kinley, Sr., 126; Mark Maldonado, Sr., 160; Nathan Barragan, Sr., 285.
Outlook: The theme for the season is "I believe," and coach Frank Marciano is starting to believe in his team. Freshmen Andrew Kinley (138) and Seth Leon (132) could make an impact.
Quote: "I have a small team, and we are working on building great attitudes, and when our wrestlers truly commit to their individual goals, the team success will follow." !~ Marciano
Wrestlers to watch: Tony Vasquez, Sr., 138; Kaden Newcomb, Sr., 160; Scottie Sopko, So., 170; Tony Rodriguez, Sr., 182; Gerald Valenzuela, Sr., 285.
Outlook: The Brickies are talented and experienced. Sopko finished eighth at state last season. Rodriguez is a three-time semistate qualifier. Vasquez, Newcomb and Valenzuela have all qualified for semistate. Hobart should be one of the favorites in the NCC.
Quote: "Our team is working very hard and has good potential to be a good team." !~ coach Steve Balash
Wrestlers to watch: Jimmy Marich, Sr., 138; Johnny Morrison, Sr., 160; Matt Berdine, Sr., 220.
Outlook: Coach Tom Dellahan will know just what he has early, as the season begins with Chesterton and doesn't get much easier. Heavyweight is the only slot where the starter isn't returning. There are seven seniors.
Quote: "We should be in every match. Time will tell." !~Dellahan
Wrestlers to watch: Drew Hughes, Fr., 120; Kenny Hughes, Jr., 160; Mitch Roadruck, Sr., 145; Alex Mavros, Jr., 152; Ryan Patterson, Sr., 195.
Outlook: Bobby Howard, who won his own state championship for the Red Devils, is in his second season as coach. Wrestling talent runs in the Hughes family. Kenny is a returning state qualifier, and Drew begins his high school career already having numerous youth awards.
Wrestlers to watch: Zach Slosser, Jr., 138; Adam Bogs, Sr., 145; John Nauracy, Sr., 182.
Outlook: The Mustangs are young but expect to improve as the season progresses. Nauracy, Bogs and Slosser offer some experience.
Quote: "Hopefully by the end ... we will see some gains we’ve made on people as our reward." !~ coach Dan Gelarden
Wrestlers to watch: Richard Span, Jr., 113; JaJuan Gills, Jr., 120; Jamal Kelly, Jr., 126; Demitrius Warmack, Jr., 132; Larry Lee, Jr., 160.
Outlook: Span and Warmack were regional qualifiers last year. Lee made the regional as a freshman. David Thomas, a four-year letterwinner, is gone. Coach David Walton has done a good job making the Hornets competitive, and that should continue.
Wrestlers to watch: Shawn Hardy, Sr., 120; Jerry Ruiz, Jr., 152; Reginald Wright, Sr., 285.
Outlook: The Panthers return no regional qualifiers. Ruiz was in his first year of wrestling last year, but has some talent. This year he could turn it on.
Wrestler to watch: Dijon Smith, Sr., 106; Jeremiah Orange, Sr., 132; Leonard Jeffries, Sr., 145; Deanthony Hall, Jr., 182.
Outlook: Last year was a rebuilding year. This season is perhaps the Cougars' best chance competing with some of the suburban schools in years. Smith, Orange, Jeffries and Hall were all regional qualifiers in 2012.
Wrestlers to watch: Corey Beatty, Sr., 170; Ryan Stanford, Fr., 120-126; Zach Keilman, Jr., Hwt.; Garrett Glisk, Jr., Hwt.
Outlook: Former Andrean coach and Griffith assistant Julio Cisneros is the Wolves' third coach in three years. He has a roster of about a dozen, all but one of them underclassmen, leaving several open weights.
Quote: "The biggest thing about the first year is setting a foundation. We're working at a little slower pace. We'll take our lumps at the beginning, but it's all about being ready for the tournament. I'm looking forward to the challenge." !~ Cisneros
Wrestlers to watch: Issac Cortez, Jr., 106; Stevan Micic, Jr., 113; Tyler Scott, Jr., 182; Josh Bartoszek, Sr., 285.
Outlook: There's no rebuilding in Cedar Lake, only reloading. Micic is a state and national champion and one of the best wrestlers in the area.
Quote: "This wrestling team has a lot of mat experience and depending on how hard they work will determine if they will reach their team and individual goals. Individually we could send multiple entries to the state tournament.." !~ coach Nick Petrov
Wrestlers to watch: Giovani Phan, Jr., 113; Nathan Bateman, Sr., 138/145.
Outlook: Numbers are gradually improving with 14 wrestlers out. Hebron will cover all but two weight classes.
Quote: "They're very, very new or very, very experienced. We're not where we want to be, but we're further along than we were last year. We're going to surprise a few people." !~ coach Todd Adamczyk