If early rankings are an indication, the Paonia Eagles' wrestling program is in for another big year.
On the Mat pre-season rankings were released Monday, and the two-time defending state champions are ranked No. 1 in team rankings and in five weight classifications, said head coach Andy Pipher.
Predictions show Paonia, which placed 11 wrestlers to win last year's 2A title, will send nine to the finals.
Jesse Reed, a junior and two-time state champion, is ranked first at 126 pounds. Sophomore Bo Pipher, state runner-up in 2013, Ty Coats (152) and Will Austin (170) also top the rankings, as does Tony Darling, also a state runner-up last February.
Junior Josh Altman, who at 113 pounds placed third last February after a controversial loss in the semi-finals, is predicted to make the finals at 120; Gunnar Chesnik (145), Zach Milner (160) and Joel Simianer (220) also come in at No. 2. Logan Schopp, who paid his dues on junior varsity, is ranked fourth at 182 pounds.
Junior Isaac Ferguson and Taylor McCabe are the likely candidates to wrestle off at 138.
Pipher said he expects to end up with seven or eight freshmen. Two incoming freshmen, Colton Godwin and Garrett Beck, will wrestle off at 106 pounds. They share fourth place in On the Mat rankings. At 113 pounds, Gabe Ferguson isn't ranked, "but he's improving a lot."
Trevor Smith will start at 195. Smith "is really looking good. He's showing a lot of promise in the room," said Pipher. Smith isn't ranked, but Pipher said he considers him a possible state placer.
With football season running into late November, and more than a dozen wrestlers on the football team, Pipher said the team is a little behind, "but I expect them to show up come February." The Eagles will host their opening dual against Olathe this Friday at 6 p.m.; on Saturday they will compete at the CMU Duals in Grand Junction. Their next home match will be Dec. 12 versus Delta.
Mark your calendars: This year's Screaming Eagle tournament is scheduled for Jan. 25.blog comments powered by Disqus