A strong junior class will lead the Oak Harbor High School boys wrestling team this winter, and the sophomore class will form the core of the girls team.
Seven of the 10 returning lettermen on the boys team are juniors, and most placed in postseason tournaments last year.
The group includes Blake McBride, who was first in the sub-regional meet, second in the regional meet and sixth at state. He helped Oak Harbor finish 15th in the state team standings in 2016.
Other juniors are Hayden Campbell (seventh, sub-regional), Jakob Dailey (fourth, sub-regional), Caleb Fitzgerald (fourth, sub-regional), Michael Fisken (fourth sub-regional; sixth regional), Shingo Johnston, Ethan Pace and Taiveyon Shaw (sixth, sub-regional).
“This group did very well in the postseason and we would like them to continue the intensity in the mat room and in competition,” coach Larry Falcon said.
Also returning are senior lettermen Chris Brooks and Dylan Sanchez and sophomore Shamus Warden (sixth, sub-regional).
All three returning letter winners for the girls are sophomores: Taylor Cress, Diandra Dominguez (eighth, sub-regional) and Ella Erikson (seventh, sub-regional).
Key newcomers, according to Falcon, are seniors Giovanni Ribay, Olivia Tungate and Olivia Tungate; juniors DeAndre Bennett, Keagan Daniels, Justin Go, Jamal Graham, Noah Hangan, Brandon Liberty, Ben Pierzchala, Eric Chiliu, Autumn Coker and Chloe Kubisiak; sophomores Evan Beerbower, Jeremiah Daily, Albert Hull, Nathaniel Nunez, Chase Ogden, Jackson Pittman, Wyatt Ridgeway, Salvador Tirado, Grace Chargualaf and Cheyanne Winchester; and a large freshman class.
“We are coming off of a great offseason with many returners going to camp along with some freshmen,” Falcon said. “We have a solid foundation and a solid group of newcomers to our program that will support and push the returners to perform and improve.”
Falcon said his goal is for his team to learn from their challenges: “Every match, every tournament and every dual we want to learn how to become better and become great.”
“Our wrestlers are dedicated to the program and have the desire to make it great,” he added.
Oak Harbor (3-5 last year) begins the season at home at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, with Mount Vernon (0-11).