The Sandusky Bay Conference coaches and area media had little hesitation picking Oak Harbor as the preseason favorite to win its fourth straight wrestling title Monday night.
The Rockets received seven of eight possible first-place votes from the coaches and both first-place votes from the media to finish first in the poll. Coach George Bergman said he’s honored by the respect, but also called it a “paper championship,” meaning nothing in a tough league.
“You still gotta show up and prove that you’re deserving of that,” he said. “It’s a very competitive league and it’s always a fight.
“I wanna say it’s a long way off. Right now we’re just trying to get geared up.”
The Rockets have won the last three SBC titles and are shooting for a fourth in a row — something never done before in their program’s history.
Bergman isn’t too worried about pressure or keeping the streak alive. In fact, he didn’t even know his squad could make history with another crown in 2008-09. He said the focus has been on the present and it hasn’t crossed his mind.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t even know that,” Bergman said when asked about the possibility of making program history this year. “It’s not on (the team’s) mind because I didn’t know that.”
Drew Stone will be Bergman’s leader along with six other wrestlers that finished first in their respective weight class from 2008-09 SBC championships. Stone committed to wrestle at Ohio State next year and Bergman said he’s excited for the future, but more looking to avenge two straight second-place finishes in the state finals the last two years.
“He was runner up last year — lost 1-0 in the finals. I think that motivates him. He wants to win a state title so he’s working hard to do that.”
Edison and Perkins flip flopped in No. 2 and No. 3 spots, with the Chargers claiming second in the coaches poll and the Pirates grabbing second in the media poll. Edison was the only other squad to receive a first-place vote.
Edison coach Davy Hermes noted his strength of schedule as a plus for his team, as the Chargers travel to North Canton and Brecksville for holiday tournaments.
Two SBC champions return for Edison: senior Eric Boyce and sophomore Kyle Burns.
Alex Trautman, cleared from a concussion in the soccer season, returns as the lone SBC champ for Perkins. He’ll be joined by Corey Urso, Joey Snyder and Spencer Matthias, who all were SBC runners-up last season.
Clyde was a unanimous No. 4 pick. Brandon Flores, Eric Pumphrey, Zach Thurn and Dylan Stiffler return as three-year lettermen. Coach Tim Grys said he’s excited about the size of his freshman class — 10 total wrestlers — but their abilities are a mystery right now.
He’s hoping having so many young wrestlers will create healthy competition and bring out the best in the young talent.
St. Mary Central Catholic came along in fifth in the coaches poll — tying with Port Clinton for No. 5 in the media poll. David Harrington — an SBC runner up last season — currently isn’t on the team, which coach first-year coach Rick Bellamy listed as a concern.
Port Clinton was followed by Huron in seventh in both polls and Margaretta took the No. 8 spot in both.
Tigers coach Rob Majoy said he is set with his heavier weight classes. However, the lightweights are still up in the air.
“We’ve got a lot of kids, (but) not much experience yet,” he said.
Polar Bears coach Keith Taylor returns Josh Ackerman, Matt Smith and Charlie Chesser, who he expects to be leaders on the team. As far as the rest of his roster goes, Taylor expects a “work-in-progress” type of situation.
“Everyone else is pretty much raw for us,” Taylor said. “Some (freshmen) haven’t seen a mat before.”