The West Jefferson wrestling team won’t be at full strength for a few weeks as a strong collection of wrestlers make the transition from football to wrestling.
But while the team is somewhat shorthanded right now, Roughriders coach Nick Christopher and his staff have been through this early-season routine before and know that it’s not in any way a negative.
“It’s just one of those things you just have to deal with,” Christopher said. “In the long run it’s a very good thing.
“The football team is successful and has been for years. You always want your kids to be successful and success usually carries over from one sport to another. We have to make adjustments at the beginning of the year, but once we have everybody back in the wrestling room I think we’re going to be pretty good.”
One of the things that should help the Roughriders is the fact that the squad will feature three wrestlers that have competed at the state tournament, including senior Carter Harris who placed seventh at 182 pounds last season in the Division III state championship meet.
“Having guys that have wrestled at that level gives us great leadership and brings a lot of experience into the wrestling room,” Christopher said. “It’s a big positive having those type of guys around because they work hard and help bring the younger guys along.”
In addition to Harris, the team also welcomes the return of 2012 state placer Ricky Radcliff (seventh at 145) and 2012 state qualifier Hayden Fulton. Both wrestlers missed a chance at returning to the state during their junior season because of injuries.
“I think this is going to be a pretty good season,” the coach said. “We have some other seniors that we’re going to be relying on too.”
That list of seniors includes 2013 district qualifier Louis Wemyss, Brian Kirk, Joe Benedict, Zander Wright and Corey Brown, who is back after not wrestling a year ago. Junior Cody Dingess, a 2013 district placer (sixth) also returns to the lineup.
While some of his older wrestlers have been unavailable until just recently, Christopher has been able to take a closer look at a good crop of youngsters.
“We’ve got some quality freshmen that have looked good,” the coach said.
Those younger wrestlers include freshmen Damir Pereria, Jake Burns, David Staten and Josh Doherty. Other team members include juniors A.J. Murry and Steven Flucke, along with sophomores Chuck Fultz and Dalton Perkins. Freshmen Darren Scott, Joe Hall and Scot Puckett are also on the team.
The Roughriders will be competing in the new Mid-State League Ohio Division this winter, which should be competitive from top to bottom.
“Realignment will be a big plus,” the coach said. “All the teams in our new division have wrestling which is a good thing. Whitehall has been really good in recent years and I think all of the teams will be competitive. I’m looking forward to seeing how we match up.”