By David Fong
TROY — It’s not a typical year for the Troy Christian wrestling team.
The Eagles — owners of four Division III state wrestling championships — have limited depth and experience. Also, most of the depth and experience the Eagles do have is in the upper weight classes, an anomaly for Troy Christian, which typically dominates at the lower and middle weight classes.
One thing that hasn’t changed for Troy Christian, however, is the high expectations.
“We’re going to be OK,” coach Steve Goudy said. “We are going to be young — we only have two seniors. But we return two kids who qualified for state last year and a kid who placed at state two years ago. We’ve only got 11 kids on the team, which is pretty unusual for us, but I’ll tell you something — I like the 11 kids we’ve got. We’ve got 11 great kids with great character who are going to go out and give it everything they’ve got.”
The Eagles return state qualifiers at opposite ends of the roster in sophomore 106-pounder Jacob Edwards and junior 275-pound wrestler Seth Douglas.
“Jacob is a team captain — something I’ve never done before with a sophomore,” Goudy said. “But that’s the kind of kid he is. He’s a great leader. He leads by example. He got a tough draw at state last year, losing to the kid who was the state champ and the kid who took third. He was in both of those matches. He’s a goer.
“Seth is coming in a lot lighter this year than he was last year and is moving well. He’s looking good. He’s a lot closer to being where he needs to be at the beginning of this season than he was at the beginning of last season. To make it to state last year as a sophomore heavyweight is pretty impressive. We expect big things from him this year.”
At 120 pounds will be junior Michael Sergent, who placed fourth at state as a freshman, but failed to get out of districts last season while competing in a loaded weight class.
“Sergent has been working hard — he wants to get back to Columbus,” Goudy said. “We’ve got high hopes for that kid.”
Wrestling at 113 for the Eagles will be junior Drew Whaley.
“He’s a hard-nosed kid,” Goudy said. “He just needs to take it out of the practice room and into competition. He’s got all the tools. He’s a real strong kid.”
While the Eagles may be strong at the lower three weights, however, they’ve got no wrestlers in the next three weight classes and will not be able to compete at 126, 132 and 138 pounds.
“We’re going to be stronger in the upper weight classes,” Goudy said. “We’ve got some hammers in the lower weight classes, but we don’t have the depth. That’s pretty unusual for us — and pretty unusual for any small school, really. Usually at schools our size, you see the top wrestlers at the lower and middle weights.”
Competing at 145 will be freshman Aiden Hicks, while junior Caleb Hoskins will wrestle at 152.
“Aiden is new to our school and I’m still getting to know him,” Goudy said. “He’s got a lot to learn, but he’s coachable. Hoskins is a kid who worked hard in the offseason and has gotten really strong. He’s transformed his body and made a lot of progress.”
Freshman Nick Baker will wrestle at 160, while senior Jordan Strine will be at 170.
“Nick Baker is a kid whose weight we are pulling down gradually,” Goudy said. “He’s going to have to wrestle at 160 for us. Jordan Strine is the most improved kid in our room. He’s really bringing it and we’re excited to see what he can do this year.”
At 182 will be sophomore Damon Beatty. Senior Levi Sims will compete at 195. Junior Brandon Swihart will wrestle at 220.
“Damon was the most improved guy in our room last year,” Goudy said. “He’s in a tough weight for an underclassman, but I think he’s going to turn a lot of heads. I fully expect him to be in Columbus this year. Levi is a good athlete. He comes in a little banged up from football season, but once we get him healthy, I expect him to make an impact. Swihart was a district qualifier last year. He goes hard every match.”
All told, even with a diminished roster, Goudy likes his team’s chances this season.
“We’ve got a lot of hard-working kids who do all the right things on the mat, in the classroom and spiritually,” Goudy said. “I’m happy with the kids we’ve got.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong