Marion lost four seniors to graduation, including state qualifiers Zac Lewman and Luke Steele. But the Warriors return a solid core of experienced athletes who will seek to pave the way for a return trip to state.
Headlining the list of key contributors is defending state runner-up Kyle Palic. As a junior, Palic earned the silver medal in the Class 3-2-1A state tournament with a 3-1 record at 220 pounds. He lost a controversial decision to Oakley?s Dylan Gass?mann in the championship match.
Palic currently ranks second in Class 3A at 220 pounds, second only to Gassmann. But Adkins said he is confident Palic can and will win a potential rematch this time around.
?I think (Kyle?s) going to do what he needs to do to make that happen,? Adkins said. ?We?re adding some different things. We?re going to work on some strength a little bit more to try to just still be in the prime physical strength at the end of the year. Sometimes you just get tired and worn out, so we?re going to try to keep that from happening.?
Marion?s second state medalist, senior Adam Janzen, also returns after placing sixth with a 3-3 record at 170 pounds.
Currently ranked third in the 170-pound weight class, Janzen will actually compete at 182 this year as he seeks a return trip to state. Adkins said Janzen should rank first at 182.
?Adam?s going to be very, very athletic at 182, so that?s going to be a benefit,? he said. ?He?ll have a different style than a lot of (182-pounders), which is a plus, too. Some of those guys will be taller than he will be, but it?s going to be good.?
Five additional state qualifiers return, including junior Remington Putter (160 pounds) and sophomores Jarrett Johnson (113), Ezra Darnall (120/126), Noah Albin (126/132), and Bryce Shults (132/138).
Other returning contributors include senior Zac Dvorak (170), and sophomores AJ Cogdill (113) and Ryan Cochran (182). Senior Beretta Janzen and junior Cody Shipman return to the team after brief hiatuses.
Adkins will have an array of newcomers this season, including freshmen Corbin Wheeler (145), Garrett Hoffner (152), Tyler Palic (195), Jarret McLinden (285) and Kolton Brewer (152), as well as foreign exchange student Maximillian Gerlach (106).
Adkins praised the work ethic of his team.
?I don?t ever have to worry about these guys working hard,? he said. ?I don?t have to coach that. I?m really lucky for that because not everybody is that way.?
Having taken a number of wrestlers to a camp in Gunnison, Colo., last summer, Adkins said he is pleased with what he?s seen so far and has set his sights on a return trip to the state tournament.
?It?s essential that we take at least those seven (qualifiers) back,? he said. ?There?s no reason why we shouldn?t.?
He would like to add a few more to that number, and to place higher as a team.
?Our goal is to be top-five as a team at the state tournament,? he said. ?I think that?s highly do-able.?
Last year, Marion finished 12th as a team with a score of 411?2. Norton won with 127.
This year, it will work in Marion?s favor that teams such as Russell, Scott City and Burlington have dropped down to Class 3A, Adkins said.
?A team like Norton is not going to score 200 points this year,? he said. ?It?s not going to happen. It?s going to spread out a little bit more, which helps somebody like us.?
It will take work, but Adkins is looking forward to what the season may bring. ?Tons of things have to happen, (but) stuff seems to be lining up to be a fun year,? he said.
Marion will open its competitive season Friday with a dual tournament at Burling?ton. Matches begin at 5 p.m.