The perennially competitive Marion wrestling program is down in numbers but high in talent this year as the Warriors seek to qualify more athletes for the state tournament in February.
?I?m excited about the talent we have in our room,? said coach Chad Atkins. ?We have as much talent as we?ve ever had, we just don?t have a lot of extras, numbers-wise.?
Leading the Warriors will be seniors Brody Carroll and Evan Slater, as well as Beretta Janzen, all of whom competed at state last season.
?We have three kids for certain that legitimately, if they go out and take care of business, can go to the state championship match,? Adkins said of the trio.
?I?m excited about that.?
Carroll and Slater have been wrestling a long time, which makes them skilled, strong, quick and aggressive, according to their coach.
?It shows in what they?re able to do,? he said.
Also returning is senior Eric Regnier, who qualified for state last year, and Zac Lewman, Jon Nordquist, Brayden Putter and Derrick Dvorak.
?They?re all looking really good so far, just really ready for the season,? Adkins said.
Dvorak wrestled for only half the season a year ago.
?He?s back and looking really, really good, and working really hard, so he has the ability.?
Adkins said he expects Putter to improve and make contributions this season.
?Brayden Putter really did work hard this summer on wrestling,? Adkins said. ?He went to a couple camps and got a lot better. Working with Brody all year long is going to help him a lot.?
Despite the depth of talent, lack of numbers is still an issue. The Warriors had a small freshman class this year and weren?t able to maintain the numbers from last season.
Adkins guessed they would be able to fill almost all the weight classes, but they?ll only be one deep, which will be problematic if someone gets injured.
?We want to place top five, we want to go to the state tournament, and it?s hard to do (when you?re missing weight classes),? he said. ?More than that, we have to have everybody here every day to have good practices. That?s the biggest thing.?
Adkins said the key is to keep everyone healthy, making sure all that talent is ready to go throughout the season.
The Warriors are scheduled to begin their season Jan. 1 at the Mission Valley Tournament, with matches starting at 9 a.m.