Any team planning to take advantage of a depleted Marion High School wrestling team may be in store for an unpleasant surprise.
“We have the potential to be just as good (as last year),” coach Chad Adkins said.
Repeating last year’s success is a tall order considering the Warriors sent seven wrestlers to the state tournament in Hays last year — the most in Marion history. Although four-year state competitor Cody Wildin and three-year state competitors Dillon Wildin and Tylor Neil graduated in 2010, four state wrestlers return for the 2010-11 season.
Headlining that group is senior Randy Regnier.
“He legitimately can be in the state championship match,” Adkins said.
Regnier was the final Warrior to remain undefeated last year, losing Jan. 27 during the Eureka tournament. Although Regnier is moving up a weight class to 125-pounds, Adkins said Regnier will not face a stronger wrestler all year.
“He only met one kid all year long that was stronger and that was at state,” Adkins said. “He’s out leveraged some but he’s gotten better with body position stuff.”
While Regnier’s 5-foot-5 height is a disadvantage when playing cornerback in football, his stature is an advantage in wrestling. His quickness and strength set him apart from other wrestlers in his weight class.
“He’s built for this sport. He can shoot and he can do power moves,” Adkins said. “He’s a kid colleges would want.”
Regnier is one of five team captains for the Warriors this year and Adkins said Regnier sets a good example with his work ethic. The coach expects Regnier to again be the Warriors’ last unbeaten wrestler this year, adding that Regnier will be one of the wrestlers the team will expect to win every time he walks onto the mat.
Adkins also places fellow captain and junior Colten Johnson into that lock-down wrestler category. After sitting out the majority of the football season with a broken left leg, it seemed like the Tylor Neil scenario may have been replayed in 2010.
Like Johnson, Neil was a starting linebacker for the football team. Neil suffered a separated right shoulder against Hoisington that kept him out of two games for the Warriors. Although Neil rebounded to wrestle in every meet for Marion, he was not comfortable with the injured shoulder until the Halstead invitational tournament in late January.
Johnson has practiced with the wrestling team from the beginning, after playing in the final two games with the football team.
“He’s ready; he’s going right now,” Adkins said. “Colten and Tylor are entirely different kids mentality wise. They say the leg is stronger. We’ll pay attention to it, but he doesn’t worry about it.”
With Neil in a prominent position as the Warriors 152-pounder, Johnson wrestled up a weight class last year. Adkins said Johnson was outweighed by his opponents in every match in 2009-10 and still went to state in the 160-pound weight class.
“I’d say he’s better,” Adkins said. “He went to a good camp this summer. We spent a lot of time in the (wrestling) room.”
Another wrestler who used the summer to condition for the wrestling season was senior Andy Shipman. Adkins said Shipman swam and spent time in the weight room to get stronger.
Shipman returns to wrestle in the 135-pound class. He went to state last year, but Adkins thought Shipman was not confident in his abilities until the final three meets last year.
As one of the captains and a vocal team leader, Adkins believes Shipman will be in the same form he showed during the Chase County and regional tournaments last year.
“He’s in a really good place right now,” Adkins said.
The last returning state competitor is 130-pound sophomore Brody Carroll. Like Shipman, Carroll gained confidence as the season progressed, showing his potential in the final few tournaments of the year. Adkins said he thought Carroll could have placed at state if the Marion wrestler had believed in his own talent. Carroll faced Kregg Clark of Lyons, who had defeated Carroll three times in earlier tournaments.
“In the match he lost at state, he was beating him and couldn’t believe he was beating him,” Adkins said. “When freshmen go out and place at state, it’s special. That’s why four-time state champions are hard to find.”
After getting a taste of varsity success during the wrestling season last year, Carroll was a fixture on the track and field team as a jumper and started at safety for the Marion football team. As a sophomore, he looks to return to wrestling as a seasoned athlete.
The final team captain for the Warriors is junior Cole Lewman. Lewman suffered an injury in an early wrestling practice last year that held him out the entire season. The Warriors gave up points without having a 125-pounder last year, a position Lewman would have filled. Having gained height and weight in the offseason, Lewman enters this wrestling campaign as the Warriors’ 140-pounder replacing Cody Wildin.
Lewman displayed his athleticism for the Marion baseball and football teams and Adkins is excited to have him out for wrestling.
Filling out the rest of the classes for the warriors are 103-pound sophomore Colton Jeffrey. Sophomore Eric Regnier will wrestle at 119 pounds.
“Eric will win a lot of matches,” Adkins said.
The 119-pound class is the class where the Warriors have the most depth with four wrestlers. Adkins gave fellow 119-pound sophomore Christian Larsen as an example.
“He’s a tough kid,” Adkins said. “I wish he was about 140 pounds.”
Marion lacks a 112-pound wrestler.
To combat the problem of having multiple wrestlers at the same weight, the Warriors are competing in more tournaments and less dual meets. The Heart of America League does not have a set wrestling league. Thus, Adkins has flexibility in making the schedule.
For his first season as a varsity wrestler, sophomore Derrick Dvorak will wrestle at 145 pounds.
“He’s been working really hard,” Adkins said.
Senior Galen Funk challenged Johnson to try to earn the 152-pound slot but will likely wrestle up at 160 pounds.
Freshman Zach Lewman will wrestle at 171 pounds. Junior Andrew Kjellin moved up a weight class to 189 pounds. Sophomore Evan Slater also moved up a class to 215 pounds.
“He actually weighs about 205,” Adkins said. “He moves like a 40 pounder as far as the things he’s able to do. He’ll be able to shoot.”
Freshman Dirk Young will fill the Warriors spot at 285 pounds.
The Warriors will face early tests against Burlington at the Mission Valley Tournament and Minneapolis and Hillsboro Dec. 17 at the Marion County Wrestling Invitational.