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TELL CITY - With about the same experience and numbers as in recent years, Tell City' s wrestling team is shooting for another winning season.
The Marksmen have seven full-time starters returning and 12 lettermen on their 25-man roster (anyone who wrestled at least one varsity match last year lettered).
Most of their returnees are in the lower weight classes and the 215-pound and heavyweight classes, so Coach Joe Litherland expects those to be the team' s strengths.
Sophomore A.J. Flynn, a first-year varsity wrestler, will man the 103-pound weight class. He did not wrestle last year because he was too light for the minimum weight for that class.
But he has gained 18 pounds to 101 and Litherland expects him to do well because of his years of experience excelling for Tell City Junior High (where he was a three-time PAC champion) and the Tell City Wrestling Club.
Neal Goffinet, last year' s 103-pound starter, moves up to 112 this year.
Keith Patrick returns in the 119 class after placing second in the Castle sectional and posting a 29-10 record last year, second best among the returnees.
Andy Kast went 34-12 in the 112 class last year and will probably start at 125 this year.
But Litherland doesn' t expect him to be cleared to wrestle in a match until mid-December, as he is still recovering from a broken arm suffered in a car wreck in late August.
In the meantime three freshmen, Andrew Dauby, Kyle Shrubb and Ian Leclere, are competing for the 125 spot.
Joey Woznicki, a fourth-year varsity starter moves up to 130 after going 20-20 at 125 last year.
Freshman Ryan Henrickson will start at 135. "He' s looking really good in practice," said Litherland.
Sophomore Chris Martin will start at 140 after starting at 130 part of the time last year.
Juniors Eric Sabelhaus and Justin Kleemann will start at 145 and 152, respectively.
"We should be pretty solid in those classes," said Litherland.
Skylar Freeman and Dylan Gardner are competing for the 160 spot. "They' re real close," said Litherland.
Sophomores Matt Leistner and Dustin Gould are the favorites for the 171 and 189 spots, respectively. Both wrestled mostly JV last year.
The Marksmen return solid starters at 215 and heavyweight with Dylan Froehlich and Greg Batie.
Froehlich went 19-20 as a freshman last year but wrestled well in Indiana State Wrestling Association matches last spring and summer.
"He went to the nationals and was one match away from making All-America," said Lither-land.
Batie went 25-16 last year. He lost more than 20 pounds since then, down to 253, but "what he lost he put back on in muscle," said Litherland. "I look for him to be quicker and stronger. I expect him to improve his record quite a bit."
Patrick is the Marksmen' s only PAC champion returning but Litherland thinks the Marksmen can contend for the conference title this year.
"It' s going to be wide open," he said of the conference race. "(Defending champion) Gibson Southern lost about eight seniors, but Heritage Hills has a good young team.
"Southridge has a new coach, former Tell City star Dave Schank, and they' re always tough. And North Posey has three or four real strong guys."
Castle is a heavy sectional favorite but Litherland thinks Tell City could be one of the two teams advancing to the regional.
"I think we' ll contend for second or third, being realistic," he said. "Princeton has a good team coming back - I think them, Heritage Hills, Gibson Southern and us will compete for second."
But he said some of the younger wrestlers will have to come through for the Marksmen to enjoy postseason success.
"Half our lineup is freshmen and sophomores, so it will depend on how well these kids respond at the varsity level."