North Hagerstown coach Greg Slick is quick to temper the excitement about his wrestling team this season.
“Everybody hyped up those Philadelphia Eagles in the beginning of the year, and they didn’t quite pan out,” he said.
The Hubs might not be the “dream team,” but they potentially could be very good.
Eight starters are back from last season’s team that went 13-8 in dual meets and finished second in the Washington County tournament. The returnees include all four of their Maryland Class 2A-1A state qualifiers from last season — seniors Kenneth Burrs and Duncan Yeisley, junior Mike Tobery and sophomore Brendon Colbert — and all three of their county champions — Yeisley, Colbert and senior Connor McHose.
The excitement can be tempered, but not hidden.
“A lot of the kids worked really hard in the offseason and are excited,” Slick said. “I’m excited. I want to be hopeful and optimistic. We just have to stay healthy.”
Colbert is the star of the Hubs’ show. He went 35-2, was the state runner-up at 112 pounds and was The Herald-Mail’s Wrestler of the Year last season. And now he’s back for more.
“He seems to be 100 percent ready to go,” Slick said. “My focus with him is going to be to keep some of the pressure off, but to keep him ready to go because everybody is going to bring their ‘A’ game at him. He’s going to have a bull’s-eye on his back.”
Slick said senior heavyweight Dylan Dopson, who hasn’t wrestled since his 21-4 sophomore campaign due to injury, remains a question mark. After shoulder surgery in January, he played summer baseball and then football this fall.
“We’re going to let the doctor look at him one more time and get him cleared for wrestling,” Slick said. “If he was cleared for baseball and football, he should be cleared for wrestling. We’re hopeful.
“But he’s being recruited by a couple pretty good programs to play football, and I’d sure hate for anything to happen to him to keep him from playing football. Wrestling is his favorite sport, but the reality is he’s not going to go anywhere to wrestle.”
With North’s move from Class 2A to 3A this school year, the Hubs will now have to compete in the 4A-3A West region with South Hagerstown and all of Montgomery County.
“I can’t imagine it’s going to hurt us,” Slick said. “You know what the 2A-1A West wrestlers have done at the state tournament in recent years. Their success has been amazing.”
The most drastic change this season is the new set of 14 weight classes for all high schools. The new lineup is: 106 pounds, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. Previously, it was: 103, 112, 119, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 152, 160, 171, 189, 215 and 285.
“There’s no effect for us at all,” Slick said. “In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it’s going to have that much of an effect on anybody’s team. It might make it easier for a big football player to get to 220 instead of 215, but the weight classes are what they are, and the kids will fit into them no matter what.”
The Wildcats captured their third straight county title last season in dominant fashion, winning nine of the 14 weight classes and scoring a record 246 points.
However, only three of those champions return — seniors Zach Shoemaker and Killian Baker and sophomore Bryan Davis.
“It’s definitely not going to be easy, losing that many quality starters,” coach Mike Rechtorovic said. “But we’ve had a lot of young guys in the room who have been waiting their turn. Hopefully they take their opportunity to step up, and hopefully the young guys in the lineup last year continue to get better.”
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