Coach Tim Ruschell will be dusting off extra wrestling mats for the star-packed Ryle Raider Rumble, one of the first big meets of the season.
The Dec. 12 tournament is in its 15th year. Ruschell, a seven-time regional champion at Ryle, has seen them all. Wrestling starts at 10:30 a.m. Finals begin late afternoon.
“It looks like we’re getting a good number of teams, some big names, so we’ll have six mats out for this one,” Ruschell said of the annual event at Ryle’s gymnasium in Union. “I think it’s going to be a pretty good meet.”
There is a line of state championship-caliber teams ready to take their shots at defending Rumble champion Louisville St. Xavier. Seven of the top 10 and nine of the top 15 in the kentuckywrestling.com preseason dual rankings have committed to what could be a 20-team field.
As many as a dozen top-ranked wrestlers in their respective states will vie for 14 weight-class championships in what amounts to an early state tournament preview for the Kentucky contingent.
“It’s a good starting point for everybody,” Ruschell said. “Each wrestler has a chance to have five matches. It gives you an early look at the other teams, and the other wrestlers in the area and around the state. We’ll have teams from all over Kentucky and Ohio.”
St. Xavier, ranked second in Kentucky, is bringing seven returning state qualifiers, as are third-ranked Woodford County and fifth-ranked Louisville Trinity, which boasts three top-ranked wrestlers. Seventh-ranked Henry Clay is bringing 10 state qualifiers. Eighth-ranked Union, the state tournament runner-up, is bringing nine.
Local regional champion Campbell County, ranked ninth statewide, is bringing six including a pair of returning state runners-up, Tanner Yenter (106 pounds) and Brady Wells (113). The Camels were third at last year’s Rumble.
Other local teams expected to compete include 10th-ranked Walton-Verona, Conner, Covington Catholic and Scott. Walton-Verona features defending regional champs Ryan Moore and Mason Smith. Moore (120) and Smith (145) are ranked first in the state. Teammate Blake Roth (106) is ranked second. Four of Kentucky’s top five at 120 pounds will be at the Rumble.
Ryle, last a Rumble winner in 2011, is ranked 15th after last season’s seventh-place state finish. The Raiders feature four returning state qualifiers. Included are a pair of defending champions, seniors Logan Erdman (126) and Johnny Meiman (160), two of Ryle’s greatest.
Meiman has three regional championships and two state titles to his credit. He ranks fourth all-time in school history with 189 wins after going 48-5 last season. Ranked first in the state at 170 pounds, he’s seeking to become Ryle’s first-ever three-time state champion and the all-time wins leader.
Erdman, an Ohio University recruit, is a three-time regional champ and two-time state finalist. He has 149 career wins, putting him in Ryle’s top 10. He was 44-4 last season.
Ohio entries include Princeton, Lebanon, Columbus East and Kenton Ridge.