?I?m not just saying that,? he added. ?We really have been great.?
Having seen his squad?s commitment and capability when it comes to making the most of its opportunities on the mat, Adkins said taking care of business off of the mat will be doubly important this year.
?It?s a matter of our guys taking care of their grades so they can focus on the things they need to focus on,? he said. ?We?re not real deep to be full. We?ve got enough people, but if we have a week of sickness or ineligibility, we can go from being really, really, really good to having open weights.?
Having graduated Charlie Holub and Hank Collett, two heart-and-soul team members who had committed their winters to the program for four years, Adkins? team might have been looking for leadership. But, he said, they did not have to look far to find one willing to step up.
?Cody Wildin really surprised me. He didn?t play football this year, but he spent the off-season conditioning, and he?s stronger than he?s ever been and tougher than he?s ever been,? Adkins said.
Senior Adam Regnier also stepped up.
?I think this is going to be his year to shine,? Adkins said. ?He?s really smart?maybe sometimes too smart. But he?s a tough kid, really strong, and he thinks so quickly on the mat.?
Both have been named team captains.
?Charlie was a four-time (state) qualifier, and was one match away placing as a senior, and you can?t really replace a kid like that,? Adkins said. ?Hank Collett, the same way. He was really important to our practice room because of his leadership. Both of those guys were really committed.
?But we?ll be just fine this year in terms of the number of kids we have with good talent, good skills,? he said. ?With the club wrestling, all the kids we?re getting now are coming in with experience, and we?re just starting to see the benefits of that.?
Including Cody Wildin, the team features four returning state qualifiers: juniors Dillon Wildin, Cody Wildin, Tylor Neil and sophomore Andy Shipman.
?Dillon and Cody, they have the ability place in the top three in the state,? Adkins said. ?All of the qualifiers returning do, really.
?They have the skill, so it?s just a matter of the being consistent at the right time,? he added. ?If they work hard and do what they need to do, they?ll be in the mix at state.?
Cody Wildin wrestled at 125 pounds last year, and moves up to 130 this year. He posted a 25-11 record last season. Dillon Wildin moves up from 130 to 135.
?Dillon Wildin and Cody Wildin are just kind of phenomenal,? Adkins said. ?They have a really good skill base, they?re really talented technique-wise, and they?ve got that fire where when the going gets tough, they really get after it.?
Neil moves up from 140 to 145. He finished 22-16 for the season.
Shipman went 23-17 last season at 119 last year. He will wrestle at 125 this year.
The team?s seniors are also in strong early-season form.
Adam Regnier (135), Hector Cardenas (160), Levi Anderson and Derek Riggs (285).
Adam Regnier was an all-MCAA wrestler, but did not escape the regional round last year.
?He probably didn?t wrestle the best tournament he could have,? Adkins said. ?But he should be in the state tournament this year. He looks really good right now.?
With a solid group of freshmen helping to boost the program?s numbers into the low 20s, Adkins is confident some of the younger wrestlers on the squad are poised to make an impact.
?I think some people will be surprised by our freshmen,? he said.
The corps of freshmen vying for varsity spots includes Jack Crayton, Cole Louman, Colton Johnson, Andrew Kjellin and David Smith.
Adkins has been focused on making sure his wrestlers are ready to hit the ground running when the season begins at Hoisington Thursday.
?We?ve been focusing pretty hard on conditioning,? he said. ?This is the year in the rotation where you start a week later.
?We will have had two weeks of practice, and then we?ve got two competitions,? he noted. ?I didn?t have them as prepared as they needed to be for the first night out last year, and we have to be in better shape than we were.?
The new facility has already impacted his team?s fitness.
?I feel confident we are going to be in the shape we need to be in?we?ve been working really hard, utilizing the new pool,? he said. ?We?ve just got a lot more room to do everything.?
The Warriors open at Hoisington on Thursday and visit Mission Valley on Saturday.