Oak Harbor wrestling lost the most talent in the offseason, yet heading into 2010-11 the Rockets are still heavy favorites to take their fifth consecutive Sandusky Bay Conference title.
The Rockets concluded with a second-place finish -- their fourth straight top-five mark -- in Division II behind national wrestling power St. Paris Graham.
Oak Harbor lost Drew Stone, a two-time state runner-up in the bantamweight classes. Walsh Jesuit's Johnni DiJulius edged him in the 2009 finals at 119, again in 2010 at 125. They also lost three-time state qualifier Mike Mallernee and 2010 qualifer Zach Sandwisch.
Yet four senior state qualifiers -- one champion -- and one state alternate return in 2010, keeping their lineup just as potent in 2010.
Ian Miller took the Division II 145-pound weight class with a 19-4 technical fall over Dylan Ice of Lisbon Beaver. He'll wrestle in the 152- or 160-pound weight class. Miller's only loss last season was by a 3-2 decision to Chris Villalonga of powerhouse Blair Academy (New Jersey) in the first-place finals of the Walsh Ironman.
Konner Witt, the D-II 152-pound runner-up, will wrestle a class above Miller at 160 or 171. He lost only four times last season -- three times against top competition at the Ironman, in the state finals and zero times elsewhere.
Jake Cramer, a fifth-place state finisher at 140 in 2010, has jumped on a growth spurt to the 171 or 189-pound weight class.
Tyler Hackworth, a state qualifier with a record of 31-9 last season at 119, returns to the 119- or 125-pound classes.
Add junior Alex Bergman (135-145, a 2010 state alternate in 130), seniors Sean McGee (189-215, SBC runner-up last season at 189) and Kyle Mincheff (145-152, SBC runner-up) and sophomore Luke Cramer (130-135, 26-11 last season), and the Rockets could repeat their 2010 feat of seven SBC champions this season.
At their host invitational on Saturday, the Rockets won seven of the 14 weight classes with both top-two finishers in the 145-pound class.
Who could challenge the Rockets in the SBC?
Likely no one.
Edison, however, returns a solid lineup and appears to be the team to beat for second.
Kyle Burns, a junior with two third-place state finishes (at 125 in 2009 and 135 in 2010), leads the Chargers again in 2010-11. Burns' state tournament began with a 3-2 loss to Akron Manchester's Shane Brown, but he followed it up with five straight wins (including payback against Brown in the consolation semifinals, 5-2) for the third-place title.
He'll have to place himself around Monroeville's Hunter Stieber and Cam Tessari in the Division III state tournament, though he could wrestle on the raised mats in the right weight class.
In a 10-team field in the Edison Invitational on Saturday, the Chargers sent eight wrestlers -- including all six classes from 130-160 -- to the first-place finals, winning four individual championships and the team title.
The Chargers also have a rare block of experience in their featherweights -- sophomore Jude Michel was 29-3 at 103 last season, Dalton Howard was 14-13 at 112-119 and senior Cam Michel was 40-12 wrestling from 103-112 (dropping to 103 for the big tournaments).
Cam edged brother Jude to compete in the 103-pound weight class in the postseason. He finished eighth in the state.
Jude opened the season with a 5-0 record at the Edison Invite, winning a title at 103. Howard followed him with a 4-0 record and a title at 112.
The Pirates head into the 2010-11 season with extra help courtesy of their biddy and junior high pipeline.
A lot of help.
Perkins has 16 freshmen out on its roster this season, enough for a "B" team schedule. The 16 includes four junior high state qualifiers: Tony Didion (8th), Alex Tetzloff, Josh Rohrbacher and John Workman (3rd). Didion holds the career mark for wins in junior high with 58 total, including 31 last season.
Perkins sophomore Bryon Logan made it to the state tournament in 2010 in the Division II 103-pound class. Cameron Campbell, a 2009 state qualifier and 35-10 in 2010 before an illness sidelined him for the state tournament, returns as a junior to the low middleweight classes for the Pirates.
Joey Snyder (35-12), the reigning 152-pound SBC champ and district qualifier, returns to the middle of the order. Michael Snyder (28-11) also returns after qualifying for districts last season.
When it comes to the heavyweights, Trevor Strickland stands above the rest. Literally.
The 6-foot 7-inch Flier was roughly two inches taller than any other wrestler at the 2010 state tournament, where Strickland finished sixth in the Division II 215-pound weight class.
Strickland opened the season at the Edison Invite wrestling the heavyweights for the top-heavy Fliers, who have several quality big men in upper three classes. He won the tournament handily with four first-round pins in pool play and a 5-0 decision over Norwalk's Ian Ramos in the finals.
Clyde coach Rob Jennings said Strickland still has the possibility of moving back down to 215, though no decisions have been made yet.
At heavyweight, Strickland would have to contend with Huron junior Nino Majoy, a Division III state qualifier in 2010. Majoy made it out of districts as the second seed behind Swanton sophomore Mimmo Lytle.
Margaretta's strongest wrestler, Charlie Chesser, will also put up a fight around the top of the SBC. Chesser, ranked 25th in D-III in the 2010 Brakeman Report, took one of his losses in districts to the D-III third-place finisher, Lytle.
St. Mary Central Catholic is back this season sporting a full lineup of wrestlers, including returning state qualifiers Alex Guerra and Joe Dauch.
Dauch, the Division III sixth-place finisher at 112 in 2010, returns to the same weight class this season. Guerra, who just nine months ago competed in the state tournament in the 103-pound weight class, grew into 119.
The Panthers have some wrestlers that can score dual points, though they're only one-deep in every weight class.
The Redskins return experience to the middle of their lineup behind Jared Flemming, 26th in the 2010 Brakeman Report in the Division II 152-pound weight class, qualified as the second seed at districts after falling to Oak Harbor's Witt in the first-place sectional finals. Flemming also finished third at 152 in the SBC.
Port Clinton junior Greg Willis worked his way down from 119 to 112 in 2009-10, where he finished fourth in the Sandusky Bay Conference. He fell in the district consolation quarterfinals to Clyde's Dylan Stiffler, an eventual state qualifier.
Jacob Flemming wrestled from 140 in the beginning of the year all the way down to 125 at the end of the season, where he finished fifth in sectionals as a district alternate. Stephen Pastor, at 135 at the end of the season for the Redskins, was also a district alternate.
Redskins senior Ray Hopfinger, third place at 189 in the Sandusky Bay Conference tournament, also returns to fortify the upper middle of Port Clinton's lineup.