As the first week of the season approaches for the Carlisle grapplers, they look to build on a strong 2016-2017 campaign where they placed second in the Raccoon River Conference. The effort was the highest placing for the Wildcats in almost a decade. The Wildcats will need to replace five point-scoring seniors from a year ago, including Carlisle's first 3A district and conference champ Travis Johnston.
The team returns eight letterwinners from a year ago in Peter Comer, Carter Logue, Darek Tingle, Bryce Murray, Tyler Squires, Dylan Barnes, Lucas Olson and Ethan Reed. Comer, Tingle and Murray were one step away from a trip to state, while Logue punched his ticket and went 1-2 at the state tournament. Comer and Logue paced the team in almost every statistical category last year. Squires was also top-five in wins on the season and will look to improve. Murray and Tingle will also look to improve on their season from a year ago where they sometimes saw limited mat time due to injuries. Both worked through those injuries to knock on the doorstep of Wells Fargo.
The squad is excited to have junior captain Ethan Reed return after battling injuries last year.
Newcomers this year don't just come in the form of freshmen. While the team does include seven freshmen, seven other young men have decided to compete on the mat for Carlisle who have not wrestled in high school. Some have decided to give wrestling a try for the first time in their lives.
"I cannot tell you how exciting it is to see so many out the sport," said third-year head coach Jason Mehrhoff. "Wrestling is tough, but these young men have battled physically and mentally to learn many new skills and hone in abilities they never knew they possessed." Mehrhoff contributes the shift in participation to a strong activities department philosophy of athletes participating in numerous activities. He says that success in wrestling contributes to and is the result of the work of coaches in other activities who encourage student-athletes to join other programs and organizations.
Mehrhoff will be assisted by John Crippen, Quincy Griffith, Matt Hesse and Jared Wulf. Griffith originally hails from Ankeny, but completed his undergraduate degree at Wartburg. He was a part of the Waverly-Shell Rock program during his time in college. The team is also excited to bring back Coach Jared Wulf.
Previewing the season, Coach Mehrhoff noted a strong mix of styles and experience on this years team, "We have been fortunate enough to increase our numbers this season with some dedicated young men. The team brings back some experience from last year, but many wrestlers have also been working hard in the off-season through camps, clubs and freestyle wrestling."
Coach Mehrhoff looks to see improvements on finishing moves and focusing more on "chain wrestling" where they next movement becomes second nature to the athlete. The Cats face tough competition in the Raccoon River Conference with rival Ballard bringing back numerous state qualifiers and place winners. Carlisle is again in the 3A classification and will battle for a chance at state at districts in West Des Moines at Valley High School.
The Cats officially begin competition against conference rivals Bondurant-Farrar and Boone at home on November 30. This will be the second annual Toiletry Takedown night where fans can bring in any toiletry item for the Carlisle food pantry and get a takedown sign to cheer on your Wildcats. Wrestling begins at 5:30.