Duneland Athletic Conference
Wrestlers to watch: Morgan Kral, Jr., 195; Josh Fuqua, Sr., 138; Darden Schurg, Jr., 145; Steven Potoskey, Sr., 220.
Outlook: The Bulldogs are a stacked once again. The returning DAC, sectional and regional champs will make things difficult for opponents at every weight class. At least six Crown Point wrestlers are ranked as individuals in the state.
Wrestlers to watch: Alex Katsafaros, Sr., 170; Jaycee Jensen, Sr., 182; Connor Smith, Sr., 220; Jack Davison, Jr., 152; Matt Estill, So., 126.
Outlook: The Trojans have a strong base of veterans to go with promising freshmen Adam Davison (160) and Jack Tolin (106). "If everyone is at the weight they're supposed to be, we should be pretty good," coach Chris Joll said. "We've got some of the better coaches in the area and a lot of kids who have been around a long time. They have everything they need to be successful."
Wrestlers to watch: Gelen Robinson, Sr., 220; Branden Truver, Jr., 113; Cody Christenson, Jr., 152.
Outlook: Ryan Alb takes over for long-time coach Rod Wartman. Robinson is one of the best athletes in Indiana and will be the favorite for another state championship. There are 50 kids in the room, which gives L.C. a wider net than almost any school in the area.
Wrestlers to watch: Mike Eldridge, Sr.
Outlook: Eldridge placed sixth in the state at 170 last year.
Wrestlers to watch: Michael Garza, Sr., 113; Isaac Rentas, Sr., 145; Jacob Covaciu, So., 138; Shawn Streck, So., 285.
Outlook: Minnesota commit Bobby Steveson, the 2013 state champ at 170, moved to Apple Valley, Minn., which would be a big loss for any squad. But the Pirates are deep with state qualifiers and could still be the class of the region. More than one wrestler has ideas of standing on the podium in Indianapolis.
Wrestlers to watch: Dee Collins, So., 120; John Gesse, Jr., 138; Garrett McDaniel, Jr., 152; Matt Schoof, Jr., 182; Terry Jamieson, Jr., 195.
Outlook: Former Chesterton wrestler Erik Ledbetter is the Wolves' third coach in as many years. He inherits a roster short on experience. Schoof is new to the sport, but shows great potential. "We may have to overcome some growing pains early on, but we'll be looking to turn some heads come sectionals," Ledbetter said. "It sounds cliche, but we just try to teach the basics every day."
Wrestlers to watch: Gaige Torres, So., 120; Tyler Joseph, So., 106; Travis Williams, Sr., 220; Miguel Prado, Fr., 113.
Outlook: With only one or two seniors in the lineup, the Indians will lean heavily on a talented frosh-soph group, led by Torres, a state medalist. "This is something we've been preparing for the last two years," coach Leroy Vega said. "I really believe we'll still be competitive, but it'll be an up and down year because we are so young. You never know what to expect." Williams will be brought back slowly following a knee injury in football.
Wrestlers to watch: Chris Gallo, Sr., 126-132; Ricardo Rosario, Sr., 145; George Krummel, Sr., 160; Derrick Suttles, Sr., 195.
Outlook: New coach Mark Line looks to sustain the program's recent uptick. A solid senior core will help that cause, though the bulk of the team will be comprised of freshmen and sophomores. "It's a great situation to step into," Line said. "We've got good young talent and good veteran leadership. I think we've got great potential to get any of a number of kids downstate and others who are going to pop up and shock some people."
Greater South Shore Conference
Wrestlers to watch: Matt Gordon, So., 106; Mark Feliciano, Sr., 152.
Outlook: Damian Gomez is gone, but coach Brian Hrabovsky still returns some talent. Feliciano was a semistate qualifier as a junior.
Wrestlers to watch: Nick Fowler, Jr., 170; Alec Noworul, Sr., 126; Doriante Bryant, Sr., 132.
Outlook: Coach Jim Wadkins brings back an athletic team that could challenge for the GSSC. Noworul and Bryant were both semistate qualifiers as juniors.
Wrestlers to watch: Issac Cortez, Sr., 106; Stevan Micic, Sr., 126; Tyler Scott, Sr., 195; Evan Larsen, So.,145.
Outlook: Micic may be the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the state, but he's certainly not the only talented Wildcat. Scott, Cortez and Larsen were all semistate qualifiers. The senior class is a good one, featuring three more regional qualifiers.
Wrestlers to watch: Brett Boby, So., 120; Manuel Guerra, Jr., 220; Kyle Thomas, So., 195.
Outlook: Thomas is the lone returning regional qualifier, but Boby showed some promise as a freshman. Guerra will be competitive in a weight class that is dominated by seniors.
Wrestlers to watch: Justin Funk, Jr., 170.
Outlook: The graduated class featured three semistate qualifiers that coach Bruce Cunningham will have to replace. Funk was a regional qualifier as a sophomore.
Wrestlers to watch: Robert Yanez, Sr., 220; Jermaine Fletcher, So., 120; Tyberius Torres, Fr., 106.
Outlook: Numbers are down, but coach Brian Wesley says his team is athletic and competitive. The goal is to regain the GSSC title. Yanez is state-ranked and a two-time semistate qualifier.
Wrestlers to watch: Dominic Pagan, Sr., 132; Frank Rossodivito, Sr., 113; Zach Szmuc, Jr., 138.
Outlook: The Oilers have some talent in areas. Coach Jimmy Augustyn says he's striving for individual success in conference and in the postseason. Pagan returns after missing most of his junior season due to injury.
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
Wrestlers to watch: Chris Diaz, Jr., 126; Ismael Quintanilla, Sr., 132; Rene Zamora, Jr., 195.
Outlook: Coach Matt Atherton is trying to build the program at Clark and hopes to take the next step this season. Running the table in the GLAC could be a realistic goal. The Pioneers were 3-1 in the conference last year.
Wrestlers to watch: Vinny Valdez, Sr., 138; David Stevenson, Jr., 160.
Outlook: Wrestlers who finished in the top three in their sectional are gone from four different classes. Valdez was one spot short of qualifying for the regional last year. It's a rebuilding year for the Gladiators.
Outlook: Coach Adam Johnston says he has no wrestlers with more than a year or two of experience returning. All his seniors are first-year grapplers. Johnston and his staff are in teaching mode.
Wrestlers to watch: Julien Miranda, So., 106; Rickie Rodriguez, Jr., 113; Ruben Rodriguez, Sr., 120; Adrian Palacios, Sr., 195.
Outlook: The Rodriguez brothers highlight a team that hopes to be the class of the GLAC. The siblings were a combined 72-12 last year, as both qualified for semistate. Palacios was also a semistate qualifier.
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Wrestlers to watch: Miguel Perez, Jr., 120; Mike Kryzston, Jr., 138; Bryan O'Rourke, Sr., 170; Adam Kopil, Sr., 220.
Outlook: Coach Mike Bauswell's 59ers hope to stay competitive in the NCC. What was a young team last season returns some experience. Kryzston was a regional qualifier a year ago.
Wrestlers to watch: Eric Peek, Sr., 113; Jeremiah Reitz, Fr., 103; Conner Guzior, Jr., 138.
Outlook: Former Purdue assistant Daniel Bedoy takes over a Panthers program with a lot of history, hoping to return it to glory. Reitz comes in to much fanfare with a second-place finish in the middle school state championship.
Wrestlers to watch: Andrew Kinley, So., 138; James Gaskey, Sr., 152; Dominic Micelli, So., 113; Ryne Kijurna, Jr., 195.
Outlook: Coach Ben Smithers takes over a program in need of rebuilding. Mark Maldonado, who finished fourth in the state at 160 last year, is gone. Kijurna is the only returning regional qualifier.
Wrestlers to watch: Scottie Sopko, Jr., 182; Kyle Shoenborn, So., 195; Zach Pardus, So., 113.
Outlook: The Brickies lost a lot to graduation but still return a solid group of a grapplers. Hobart's room always has its share of talent. Sopko is one of the top wrestlers in the area. Pardus was a semistate qualifier as a freshman.
Wrestlers to watch: A.J. Hamstra, So., 120; Mike Nava, Sr., 126; Andrew Schulties, Sr., 145; Tim Schoonveld, Sr., 182.
Outlook: It's a season in transition for the Kougars. A new senior class replaces one that had a lot of success for at K.V. Schoonveld was a semistate qualifier as a junior.
Wrestlers to watch: Drew Hughes, So., 132; Kenny Hughes, Sr., 160; Jake Gross, Jr., 126; Colton Cummings, Fr., 106.
Outlook: The Hughes brothers lead a Red Devil program that has reloaded. Drew and Kenny are both ranked No. 2 in their respective classes. Freshman Colton Cummings was a two-time middle school state champion who's already turning heads.
Wrestlers to watch: Zach Slosser, Sr., 138; Eric Svoboda, Sr., 182; Jason Crary, Fr., 113.
Outlook: The Mustangs look to break out of a period of hovering in the middle of the NCC. Slosser is a returning semistate qualifier. Crary was a middle school state champ and has had some success on a national level.
Wrestlers to watch: Richard Span, Sr., 126; Demitrius Warmack, Jr., 145; Larry Lee, Sr., 160.
Outlook: The Hornets are athletic and long. They hope to remain the best wrestling school in the city. Lee is a returning regional qualifier.
Outlook: 'Velt didn't advance a wrestler in the postseason last year. The Panthers face an uphill battle.
Wrestler to watch: Durante Bell, Sr., 113; Donell Hargro, Sr., 182.
Outlook: The Cougars hope to challenge Wallace in the conference. Bell finished second at 113 in the Calumet Sectional last season.
Wrestlers to watch: Zach Keilman, Sr., Hwt.; Austin Kukulski, Sr., 160-170; Austin Nelson, Jr., 160-170.
Outlook: On a roster of about 14, coach Julio Cisneros figures to start as many as eight freshmen. The good news is most of them came up through the middle school program, so they have some wrestling background. "They'll have to grow up real quick," Cisneros said. Boone is particularly thin in the lighter weights.
Wrestlers to watch: Robert Rivera, Jr., 195; David Madriz, Sr., 126; Justin Gomez, So., 132; Cesar Guillen, Fr., 160.
Outlook: First-year coach Rick Garcia, a former Cardinals wrestler, has big plans to restore the program to its heyday and a base of talented wrestlers with which to do so. Rivera was a semistate qualifier, while Madriz practiced relentlessly all offseason. Gomez and Guillen are new to varsity with a lot to prove.
Wrestlers to watch: Gio Phan, Sr., 106; Jordan Giacomin, So., 113; Tommy Fritsch, Jr., 160.
Outlook: The Hawks have 13 wrestlers with just one senior and several freshmen, and still have four open weights. "In the past, it's been six or seven," coach Todd Adamczyk said. "We're very young, but most of them have some mat time. They probably have the best wrestling IQ I've ever had as a group. We're poised to do the best we've ever done."
-- compiled by Jim Peters and David Funk