The new season is just a couple weeks away, and the excitement is building. There will be many surprises along the way, including transfers, exciting freshmen and wrestlers who worked hard all off-season to surpass expectations. As we head into the season, here is what we are expecting:
#1: Park Hill appears loaded to defend their team crown again, as they have four returning state placers, including defending state champion Kelvin Eblen, runner-up Weston Diblasi, Josh Steele (5th) and Thomas Lisher (5th). The lineup also features six other wrestlers who are in the top 10 preseason rankings, led by #1 ranked Devin Winston.
#2: Francis Howell returns four state placers, including state runner-up Dylan Komperda and a trio who placed 4th: Tyler Kreith, Tyler Purler and Jack Flynn. Jack Flynn is ranked #1 in the preseason rankings and Tyler Puler is ranked #2. Tyler McGhee is another legitimate state contender, as he heads into the season with a #7 preseason ranking.
#3: Francis Howell Central also has four returning state placers, led by state champ Jackson Berck and state runner-up Devin Schwartzkopf. Schwartzkopf was a part of last year's amazing freshman class that included two other state placers – Andrew Godier (6th) and Corey Wait (6th). Dylan Gillette and Trevor Liggett are both ranked in the preseason top 10 as well.
#4: Eureka is led by the Hagan twins, who both enter their senior season with #1 rankings. Alec won the state tournament last season and Kyran finished in 3rd. Kyle Dickhaus starts this season with a #2 ranking, and Ryan Lester has a legitimate shot to place as well, with a #8 preseason ranking.
#5: Staley returns state champ Zach Elam and third place David Berryman. This extremely deep lineup also features preseason #5 Charles Genisio, #6 Griffin Mann, #7 Tyler Craig, #9 Anthony Mabery, and two #10's: Jacob Williams and Preston Wiss. Several of these wrestlers are just entering their sophomore season, so they should be primed to make big leaps this year. The team also has two other wrestlers enter the season ranked just outside of the top 10.
#6: CBC may be the sleeper of Class 4, as they return two defending state champions (Malik Johnson and DJ Shannon) along with 5th place Cevion Severado, and they will add one of the most anticipated freshmen in years – Josh Saunders, who is not included in the preseason team score but will almost certainly challenge for a state crown. Kyle Prewitt and Will Edgar round out this scary lineup with #4 and #10 preseason rankings, respectively.
#7: Fort Osage is led by last year's 3rd place wrestler Elias Vaoifi. This is another deep lineup, as there are four other wrestlers ranked in the preseason top 10: Nick Wily (#3), Collen Divers (#4), Jim Molt (#5) and Gunnar Hahne (#6).
#8: Northwest enters the season with huge expectations. Tyler Stegall returns from a 4th place finish and enters the new season ranked #2. Dakota Thevel enters the season as the favorite in his weight class. #7 Cody Dunnegan and #9 Austin Akins also have legitimate aspirations to place this year, and there are four other returning wrestlers ranked in the preseason top 20.