MOUNT VERNON — Nate Cornell is the new face of the Mount Vernon wrestling program and he is heading in to his first season with only three seniors, but they are all top-notch on the mat.

“We only return three seniors, but those three seniors are great leaders vocally and through performance and should have good years on the mat,” Cornell said. “After that, we have a good mix of youth and experience from the ninth through 11th-grade guys.”

Max VanFossen is one of the top returners this year. He had his hand raised 38 times last year, winning the sectional tournament and qualifying for state. He was joined at state by Ashton Spurgeon, who finished seventh last year at the tournament as a senior.

Jacob Dehart is another top senior coming back, finishing last year with 28 wins and reaching districts. Bailey Cunningham is the third senior back in a Jackets singlet this winter.

A strong junior class will take the mat for the Jackets this season. Jacob Burrell is a returning district qualifier, winning 22 matches last year. Wyatt Gregory also picked up 22 wins and he won the Bad Apple Brawl in his weight class. Gabe Harmon is a sophomore this year and he picked up 15 wins as a freshman a season ago so he is another name to watch for the Jackets.

To go along with their strong returners, the Jackets bring in an outstanding class of freshman. Although Ashton Spurgeon will not be donning a Jacket singlet this winter, his younger brother Colton will be, and he is shaping up to be a strong wrestler at 106 pounds. On the other end of the spectrum, Nate Stradley, who played varsity football this year, is a freshman who could contend for time at the heavyweight slot. Conner Lang, Gabe Shannon and Dylan Hartman are other freshmen Cornell expects to fight for varsity matches this year.

“They all, like Spurgeon and Stradley, are very accomplished middle school wrestlers at the state level and have been locked in,” Cornell said. “They have absolutely bought into everything since I got the head coaching job, having perfect attendance for workouts through the entire summer and spring.”

Mount Vernon is coming off of a season where it finished third in the tough Ohio Cardinal Conference and picked up a fourth-place finish in the sectional tournament, both marks they hope to improve on this winter.

For Cornell in his first season at the helm of the program, he hopes to continue to carry the strong Mount Vernon name.

“As a coach, I am trying to preserve and carry on the legacy and tradition that coach (John) Frye and coach (John) Brown before me built up,” Cornell said. “I want our team to be full of confident wrestlers and to compete with a physical and aggressive style.”

Mount Vernon wrestling

Head coach: Brian Wetzel, 4th year

Last season highlights: Increasing overall team numbers, hosted and competed in State Dual Team tournament; graduated senior Dallas Scott, two-time state qualifier, conference, sectional and district champion.

Key returnees: Sophomore Donnell Marshall: won two tournaments as a freshman, including Marion Harding Classic, and placed in every other tournament; placed sixth at districts and third at sectionals; invited to participate in the 2018 Central District All-Star Meet next Tuesday.

Senior Stephen Schmitt, district qualifier; Will Carlisle, district alternate.

Key newcomers: Too early to tell.

Overall outlook: “I’m excited to start this season. After two really small teams my first two years, our numbers are trending in the right direction both at the middle school level and high school level, and I aim to compete in the team standings more and more. Over the next couple of years, this trend ideally will continue, and many Centerburg wrestlers will be on area watchlists.”

Danville wrestling

Head coach: Randy Brady, 2nd year

Assistant coaches: Andy Hammons, Justus Brady, Jim Winkler, Brice Berger

Last season highlights: Brice Berger, first Danville wrestler to reach State finals

Key returnees: Dylan Wilson, Sr., won weight class at KMAC tournament

Preston Brady, So., Honorable Mention KMAC

Key newcomers: Daleigh Parker, Sr.; Cassie Hood, Fr.; Brylan Durbin, John Weckesser, Alex Davis, Lucas Brady, Skyler Baldridge-Kerr, Deion Parker, Tristian Goudy

Overall outlook: “The newcomers bring in a positive attitude and they push each other to get better. It is going to be a very good season for out Danville wrestling.”

Fredericktown wrestling

Head coach: Milan Pozderac

Last season highlights: Senior Skyler Davis district runner-up, senior Mitchell Hurlbut sectional champion and fourth place in state

Key returnees: Sophomore Trevor Peffers

Key newcomers: Two freshmen

Overall outlook: “We’re struggling again with numbers. We only have six wrestlers this year and three are in the same weight class,” Pozderac said. “I’d like to have five guys go to the district tournament. That would be my goal.”

East Knox wrestling

Head coach: Tim Moore, 8th year

Last season highlights: Two district qualifiers, Spencer Enderle, Tyler Delucia

Returning letterwinners: Tyler Delucia, Sr.; Noah Howard, Jr.; Dyer Williams, Jr.

Losses: Enderle

Varsity Newcomers: Lane Boggs, Fr.

Season goals/outlook: “This year will be a challenging one as we continue to push ourselves with a high level of competition,” said head coach Tim Moore. “We hope this will translate into success at the end of the season.”

Highland wrestling

Head coach: Adam Gilmore

Assistant coaches: Andrew Sierawski, Austin LaFever

Returning lettermen: Andrew Baker (138/145), Will Biegler (285), Gavin DeAngelo (120/126), Hunter Fields (152/160), Triston Hinkle (170/182), Dillon Lehman (170/182), Christian Miller, District qualifier (145/152), Bryce Schott, District qualifier (120), Ian White (170/182).

Team strengths: Good numbers, depth in the middle/upper weights.

Key losses: Ryan Kelley, District qualifier, Austin Kelley

Key newcomers: Freshmen Cody Matthews (138) and Kaden Miller (113)

Concerns: Youth, inexperience

Team goals: Look for improvement each week.

Conference outlook: “I think Northmor is the favorite in the KMAC. I’m not sure how good they are compared to last season. I’m hopeful by the end of the season we are ready to compete for a league title.”

Mount Gilead wrestling

Coach: Mike Williamson, 7th year

Record (Last Season/Career): 7-6/49-52

Returning letterwinners: Josh Sullivan, soph., District Qualifier/League, Sectional Champ; Nate Weaver, sr., District Placer, League Champ; Lane Carpenter, sr., Injured Last Year, Previous Year District Qualifier; Chuy Rubio, soph., District Qualifier; Zach McCallen, sr., Injured Last Year, Previous Year District Qualifier ; Andy Williamson, soph., Returning District Placer; Brandon Strickland, sr., Returning District Qualifier, League Champ; Tristan Stewart, jr., Returning District Qualifier.

Losses: Tyler Cooper, two-time District Qualifier; Hunter Trimmer, 2-time District Qualifier, League Champ; Kaleb Fisher, 3-time District Qualifier.

Varsity Newcomers: Cory Fricke, soph.; Josh Brown, sr.; Justin Dendinger, fr.; Joey Linnaberry, soph.; Isaiah Fisher, fr.; Ethan Preston, jr.; Josh Weaver, fr.; Blaise Bentley, jr.

Season goals: “Maximize our senior experience, mixed in with our younger guys so that they can learn. Move our JV kids up as quick as possible to fight for a varsity spot. Looking to fight for a league title and put guys in the state meet.”

Conference outlook: “Northmor is the returning champ and look to be strong.”


Erick Starkey: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @MVNStarkey




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