The Grey Ghosts were looking to take back to the mat and take back their North Central Illinois Conference-Lincoln Division title when they started their wrestling season Monday.


The Grey Ghosts were looking to take back to the mat and take back their North Central Illinois Conference-Lincoln Division title when they started their wrestling season Monday.

Last year, the Illinois Valley Central squad wreaked havoc on the conference and took home the conference title and regional title.

Since last year, the team has not only added more players and returning stars, but also two new coaches as well.

This will be Matt Russell’s first year as the head coach of the wrestling team and the team has also added Steve Maurer as an assistant coach.

“We believe we could have another good year if we can stay healthy and continue to improve over the entire season,” Russell said.

Maurer’s addition as an assistant coach is a smart and strategic move as he has been the longtime coach of the Chilli Dawgs, Chillicothe’s youth wrestling team, and has worked with many of the local wrestlers since they were in his program.

Not only will IVC benefit from two new coaches, they also will benefit from the return of many of their stars from the previous season.

“As far as individuals that could make a positive impact on the season, the list is very long,” Russell said.

Four-year wrestler C.J. Caughey, four-year wrestler David Jordine, four-year wrestler Shawn Hostetter, four-year wrestler and captain Allen Simmerman, and four-year wrestler and captain Chris Green, who had 29 wins last year, all return to the program as seniors this season.

The team also adds three new seniors to the program in James Lauber, Jacob Bridgewater and Peoria Notre-Dame transfer Andrew White.

Not only does the team have a strong class of seniors, but it also has a very capable group of juniors.

Last year’s sectionals qualifiers Frank Barrett and Aaron Lunini return to help anchor the varsity team.

Other contributing juniors who will make this year’s varsity team a formidable foe include Scott Ladd, Cody Witherspoon and Trace Miller.

The junior varsity team will also have a good class of wrestlers with last year sectionals qualifier Jared Lauber anchoring the team as a sophomore.

Other wrestlers on the JV team who could be leading contributors to a successful season include sophomore Jacob Cotton, sophomore Jared Carroll and sophomore Zach Switzer.

The team started practicing on Nov. 10 and coach Russell is feeling confident about the team’s work ethic.

“So far the team has been working very hard in practice and is excited to get to the 24th when we will wrestle Morton and Richwoods,” Russell said.

The season began Monday at Richwoods, where IVC took on Morton and Richwoods.

The road to repeating as conference champions begins at home the following day with Kewanee and Streator.