A-J wrestling coach aims for regional title with strong squad
Anna-Jonesboro Community High School wrestling coach Eric Massey is making a preseason prediction for this year’s team.
“We’re very strong this year and we’ll contend for a regional title,” Massey said. “That is if we have no injuries.”
Massey started the season with 23 grapplers and is now down to 16.
“We’ve got all the weight classed filled up now,” Massey said. “But we’ve got to stay healthy because we should be very, very competitive.”
All 14 team weight classes for the Wildcats will have someone competing.
The squad graduated Arieh Hart, who was the first Wildcat in school history to win a state title.
A big loss already for starting the season is freshman Blake Mays, who would have been wrestling at 120 pounds. He suffered a season-ending hand injury.
Massey said there is a slim possibility that Mays, who was very competitive in the junior Wildcats’ program, could be back by regional time.
Other freshmen who were competitive in the junior Wildcats’ program expected to do well are Arojae Hart, 113 pounds; Keegan Keller, 95-120 pounds and Barry Johnson, 138 pounds.
A sophomore returning with impressive credentials is Amiyah Hart, 106-113 pounds. She was named an All-American this past summer in free style wrestling at the USA wrestling competition in Fargo, N.D.
The other sophomore is David Kester, 120 pounds.
Juniors in the mix are Drake Roach, 126 pounds; Justice Kostal, 152-160 pounds; Bryce Lingle, 170 pounds; and Tristen Dame, 220 pounds.
Several seniors return from a Wildcat football team that advanced to the second round of the Illinois High School Association Class 3A playoffs.
Seniors on the squad include Garrett Fabec, 285 pounds; Reid Morrison, 195-220 pounds; Nick Sanders, 182 pounds; Nate Kisat, 145 pounds; Chris Johnson, 152-160 pounds; and Clayton Ramage, 132 pounds.
“They’re all experienced this year,” Massey said.
Because the Wildcats were expected to have a competitive team this season the schedule has been beefed up.
“We’ve got the toughest schedule we’ve ever had,” Massey said. “We will be in 31 dual meets.”
The Wildcats opened their season earlier this week at the Benton Meet. They are scheduled to wrestle at the Sparta Meet Friday. A-J’s first home match is scheduled against Harrisburg and Pinckneyville on Tuesday, Dec. 4.