Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Returning Experience, Talent and Youth - Only One Senior

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Returning Experience, Talent and Youth - Only One Senior

Article excerpt

The Francis Howell North wrestling team may be short on seniors this year. But it isn't short on talent or experience.

"We'll be young again this year, but a number of these guys have been in the program a few years, so that shouldn't be a major problem," Knights coach Harold Ritchie said. "We only have one senior - and he didn't wrestle last year - so we'll look to some of the juniors to step up and become leaders for us. So far, they've done a real good job.

"It may take us some time to get everything sorted out, but I think we can have a good, competitive team."

At this point, the Knights aren't quite as deep as they'd like to be; when Howell North opens the season Friday at home against Francis Howell, the Knights will likely be without wrestlers at 103, 189 and heavyweight.

"We expect a few guys to drop weight to fill in the spots at the lower weights and we're looking at some young guys for those spots in the upper weights," Ritchie said. "But no one's ready for varsity yet and the last thing you want to do is bring a young guy along before he's ready. We'll let them start out at the lower levels to hopefully enjoy some success and gain a little confidence and experience.

"Hopefully, by the end of the season, we'll have a full team."

Ritchie continued: "Giving away three weight classes is going to make it real hard for us to compete in duals, but I think we have enough talent and experience to be a pretty good tournament team."

Team leaders for North include a handful of returning state qualifiers - junior Brian Struckman (140), junior Josh Overy (152) and sophomore Bryan Oehler (119) all made it to Columbia last year; junior Sean Fowler (125) advanced to state as a freshman.

"We have some solid guys to build around," Ritchie said. "These guys know what it takes to be successful and hopefully they can pass some of that along to the younger guys."

Other likely starters for Howell North include junior David Egley at 112, junior Matt Wyeth at 130, junior Jim Crutchfield at 135 and senior Steve Massey at 171. …

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