by Mike Slodki
KANELANDâ€”With a solid core coming back for coach Monty Jahnsâ€™ third season at the helm and a program that thrives on aggressiveness, opponents will have to take short relief in the fact that the Knights are still waiting for athletes to get back from football.
Those include returning State qualifiers Kyle Davidson and Jimmy Boyle. Davidsonâ€™s weight class could be 152, while Boyle will stake claim to heavyweight status.
After making it to the big dance in Champaign in February, this year takes on a different light as returnees from State.
â€œI think they will get that respect,â€ Jahns said. â€œI would hope that theyâ€™ll take that and lead the team with it. We want to develop six or seven more of those guys this year.â€
Returnees also include Zach Ganz (189), Josh Kuefler (who returns from a December injury at 130), Keagan Mattes (189), Cody McGinnis, Nick Michels (171), Tyler Esposito (119) and super sophs Esai Ponce (112) and Dan Goress (125).
â€œ(Esai and Dan) have put a lot of time in the weight room and gained some size so theyâ€™ll be able to compete physically with a lot of these kids,â€ Jahns said.
For the 103-pound slot, look for sophs Stephen Gust and Connor Williams to grapple opponents, while the middleweights will be decided between a handful of juniors and seniors. Cory Taber looks to get time at 160. Ben Kovalick looks to cement the 215-pound category
A 19-10 dual meet record looks to be eclipsed, and Jahnsâ€™goal of 20 could be a possibility if some factors fall into place.
â€œItâ€™s all basics,â€ Jahns said. â€œBasics and hard work, and weâ€™ve got a good group here now. Theyâ€™re all working and busting their butts to get in shape early and be ahead of their opponent.â€