WEST LAFAYETTE – The Ridgewood wrestling team had a special season last year, qualifying for the state duals tournament and sending three individuals to the state meet.
But two of those state qualifiers have graduated — Phillip Shannon and Kelly Barthalow, who placed fifth in the 285 class — but the Generals return a two-time state qualifier as well in junior Colten Bethel.
“That’s something we’ve talked about a lot, because those were very important pieces to our team,” coach Nate Carpenter said.
In total they lost six seniors, leaving a hole in the Generals’ roster.
“That is six big holes to fill, and when you are talking about 14 varsity spots, that’s almost half of your team,” Carpenter said. “Right now we are leaning on our middleweights, who have a lot of experience and depth.”
Those middleweights include Kyle Bethel at 138, Kasey Bethel at 160, Dominic McClung at 126, Tyle Caudy at 132, Jevon Merrill at 152 and Kolten Alexander at 145.
With those middleweights, Colten Bethel and the other wrestlers on the roster, Carpenter believes they are ahead of where they were last year on technique and therefore has spent more time getting the team in shape.
“We spent a few years doing technique and now these guys are kind of into the system, they know what’s going on,” Carpenter said.
When it comes to experience though, the junior class holds the majority of it and is thus being trusted heavily.
“We are leaning on our juniors to fill the hole we talked about,” Carpenter said. “They are feeling their way. I wouldn’t say they have reached their goal just yet.”
That is fine with Carpenter, because he puts a heightened emphasis on the end of the season, where he has some high expectations for some individuals.
“Colten would like to end up on the podium at state somewhere,” he said. “Kyle and Kasey are ready to take the next step and get to state. James Kedigh has been really good for us, and he kind of gets overshadowed because of how good that class is. He could be a surprise to some people.”
The Generals travel to Hillsdale on Saturday for their first invitational of the season.
“They are excited to get out and wrestle somebody new,” Carpenter said.