Wrestlers ready for long season

Justin Miller
Nolan Wiedeman carries Brendan Butler in practice for the Ghosts.

The Ghost grapplers are ready to return to the mat to pin down the 2011-12 season.

Last year, Illinois Valley Central’s wrestling team sent seven wrestlers to the Sectional and then advanced Jared Lauber to State.

This season, the team will have to make do without last year’s senior class of Lauber, Jared Carroll, DJ Hummer, Jacob Jones and Zach Switzer.

However, the team will have a strong senior class consisting of Brandon Berchtold, Brendan Butler, Reece Smith, Jesse Hall, Jake Innis and Roman Razo.

“They are all serving as captains for this year’s team,” coach Matt Russell said. “They really do a nice job of leading by example. All but Roman are returning varsity wrestlers.”

Not only will the team have a deep senior class for foes to contend with, IVC will also feature a plethora of underclass wrestlers.

“We have a number of newcomers that look to make the varsity lineup,” Russell said. “We are very excited about some of the freshmen on the team. Also, we return two sophomores and four juniors that wrestled varsity a year ago.”

IVC will have a long stretch of tough matches to start the year, but the veteran members of the team should prove up to the task of keeping the squad’s morale up.

“One of the biggest strengths of the team is that we are returning 11 varsity starters from a year ago,” Russell said.

The Ghosts finished one win over .500 last season, but with the added year of experience and returning starters, Russell said he hopes to see improvement in the team.

“Last year’s team was 11-10,” Russell said. “We need to improve on that mark with a lot of the same guys.”

To improve on that record, IVC will need to avoid injury while building technique.

“As with any year, we need to stay healthy and continue to improve throughout the season,” Russell said.

Most importantly, the members of the team have shown the dedication in the offseason to improve their skills and their physical prowess.

“They have come into the season in pretty decent shape,” Russell said. “A lot of them played a sport in the fall and hit the weight room all summer.”

The team starts the season at 5 p.m. Nov. 21 at Richwoods against Richwoods and Morton.

IVC will open the home season at 5 p.m. Nov. 23 against Kewanee and Streator.