If you’re not humble, you’ll stumble.
That is Genoa coach Bob Bergman’s message to his wrestlers, who were picked to finish first in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
“Feb. 2 is a long way off,” Bergman said. “It’s nice to be seen in that light but the season is a marathon, not a sprint.”
The Comets got seven of eight first-place votes while Elmwood took one. Eastwood was picked third.
Five Comets return with 30 or more wins apiece. Sophomore Brandon Bates (32-17) was third in the NBC and a district qualifier, senior Jake Fejes (30-14) is a three-time league placer and two-time district qualifier, and senior Drew Keenan (40-10) is a two-time district qualifier and was runner-up in the league last season.
Junior Nate Moore (31-18) was third in the NBC last year. Moore has improved and is likely to turn heads.
Sophomore Jay Nino (38-15) was third in the NBC and advanced to districts last season.
“These individuals plus a few others will be the core of our line up and we will need to count on them for bonus points in our big matches,” Bergman said.
Senior Seth Morrison (27-15) was third in the NBC last season and qualified to districts twice.
Junior Max Reeder (29-8) has earned a league championship and was sixth at districts last season. Reeder qualifed to state in 2011 and has placed at the NBC meet twice.
Ryan Szymanski was also sixth at districts last season.
Damien Demilio will wrestle at 106, Dakota Diekman and Anthony Lopez at 113, and Bates at 120 for now. Morrison will be at 126, Moore at 132 and Reeder at 138.
Keenan will be at 145, Fejes at 152 and Szymanski at 160. Mike Snider and Nick Vizi will wrestle 170, Tyler Baird 182 and Nino 195.
Nick Herrick and Lucas Apel will be at 220 while Cody Buckner and Louis Cutchall will be at 285.
“We have a nice mix,” Bergman said. “When your most talented wrestlers are also your hardest workers, you’ve got a real chance for success because everyone looks up to those guys who produce. Our upperclassmen have created that culture in our room already.”
Genoa hosts the first Northcoast Holiday Dual tournament Dec. 28 and 29.
Bergman said competing in duals is good experience and helps mold the team into a family.
“When a wrestling program operates like a family it’s almost impossible to be knocked out by one punch,” Bergman said.