Newstribune wrestling preview capsules for the 2023-24 season

Sterling’s Karson Strohmayer (top) wins the third place match against Rylynd Rynkewicz of Lasalle-Peru at 126 pounds in the Sterling wrestling regional.

La Salle-Peru

Coach: Matt Rebholz

Top returning wrestlers: Rylynd Rynkewicz, so.; Reegan Kellett, jr.; Walter Haage, jr.; Josh Bickford, jr.; Zach Pocivasek, jr.; Zach Znaniecki, sr.; Frank Knapp, so.; Caeden Small, so.; Austin Herron, so.; Kiely Domyancich, so.

Top newcomers: Alex Bohne, sr.; Jentz Watson, so.; Eric Matieka, so

Worth noting: The Cavaliers have a very inexperienced roster. During its first two duals of the season, L-P only had one senior in the lineup in Bohne, who is a first-year wrestler. The Cavs do have a young group of wrestlers who gained varsity experience last year. Rynkewicz, Pocivasek and Bickford competed in the Class 2A Sterling Regional last year. Rynkewicz finished fourth in the regional, one place shy of advancing. “We have a very young team but we have a great group of hard workers who are excited to learn and develop in the sport of wrestling,” Rebholz said. “Each individual is setting their own goals, for some it may be breaking the varsity lineup, getting a few varsity wins, helping the team get some wins, while some are seeking a regional championship, sectional berth and a couple are hoping to qualify for state. We are building and developing individuals to be the best they can be.” Domyancich qualified for the girls state tournament last winter and also competed in the boys varsity lineup at times.

St. Bede

Coach: Sam Allen

Top returning wrestlers: Garrett Connelly, jr., 175; Jordan Coventry, jr., 144; Evan Englehaupt, sr., 144; Grady Gillan, jr., 190; Jack Maschmann, jr., 165; Logan Pineda, jr., 150; Hunter Savage, sr., 132.

Top newcomers: Casey Shearer, sr., 126; Marco Rizzi, jr., 138; Yigit Arslan, sr., 215; Bella Boggio, sr., 145; Weston Heersink, so., 190

Worth noting: The Bruins lost a pair of sectional qualifiers in Ryan and Jake Migliorini - Ryan to graduation and Jake to basketball - but return an experienced roster. Connelley was 23-20 and a sectional qualifier last season, while Savage was 21-23 and Pineda was 24-11. “Our team is packed with experienced juniors and seniors,” Allen said. “This will help us a lot in dual team competition. We are missing some weights, so we are also giving up points before the dual even begins. Having experienced juniors and seniors will hopefully help make up for holes in the lineup.” Allen said Connelly, Savage and Pineda are all capable of advancing to state, while Coventry and Englehaupt could be postseason advancers as well. “We are missing a few key weight classes due to injured athletes and athletes choosing not tom come out this season,” Allen said. “So, my goals shifted a little. At this point, we are going to wrestle tough each and every match and focus on individuals developing and enhancing skills as much as possible up to the regional tournament.”

Putnam County-Hall

Coach: Ben Aranda

Top returning wrestlers: Kaleb Gualandi, so., 215; James Irwin, jr., 285; Ben Heerdt, jr., 144; Elijah Leota, jr., 215/285; Carlos Aranda, so., 165; Bailey Herr, jr., 170/190; Annamae Smith, so., 110/113; Ella Irwin, so., 190

Top newcomers: Logan Ziel, fr., 126; Dylan Conklin, fr., 132; Shane Scribner, fr., 138; Ulises Hurtado, so., 150; John Webb, so., 157; Joseph Garcia, so., 165; Alex Tucker, fr., 215

Worth noting: Ben Aranda has a mix of veterans and new faces in the lineup for his first season as the PC-Hall head coach. “The strength of our team is the wrestlers who have been wrestling for a few years,” Ben Aranda said. “They have been a big help getting all the new wrestlers up to speed and getting us points during dual meets.” Ben Aranda said he thinks Carlos Aranda, Heerdt, Tucker, Leota and Irwin are capable of advancing to the sectional. Herr qualified for the girls state tournament last year after placing third at the sectional. She finished one win shy of a state medal. Ben Aranda said he thinks she can make a return trip to state. Ben Aranda said he is looking to improve as a coach while helping his wrestlers in his first season. “One goal I have for myself is to become a better coach to better help my athletes,” he said. “I’m only 23 years old and this is only my second year coaching and first as head coach, so I still have so much to learn. My expectation I have for the team is to give 110% effort in the wrestling room. My main goal for this year is for all the new wrestlers to really learn and enjoy the sport.”


Coach: Dale Meyers

Top returning wrestlers: Lea Turner, jr, 145; Rhett Watson, jr., 144/150; Corbin Furar, so., 144; Gavin Evans, so., 138; Payton Gagliaro, so., 175/190; Nate Giberson, so., 285; Reyli Sandoval, jr., 160/170; Angil Serrano, jr., 285

Top newcomers: Gavin Stevenson, fr., 113; Cole Kleckner, fr., 138

Worth noting: Numbers are up for the Trojans, so Meyers hopes to have more success as a team this season. “Since we have more numbers, I would like to see us at .500,” Meyers said. “We normally only have 6-10 people, so it’s hard to win as a team. We’ve been good individually over the years.” Serrano is the team’s lone returning state qualifier. He went 4-4 last season and is nearing 285 pounds now. “We will see more of him this season,” Meyers said. The Trojans hope to be better represented at the sectional level this year. Meyers expects Watson (11-11 last year), Furar (8-12) and Evans (11-23) to compete for sectional berths. “We are a young team, so we have a lot to build on for the next years,” Meyers said. The Trojans have increased numbers of female wrestlers as well, led by Lea Turner, who went 7-16 last year and won multiple matches at a girls sectional. “We have nine or 10 girls right now, so we can put a girls team together,” Meyers said. “It’s mostly freshmen with great work ethics. I’d like to see more teams locally.”


Coach: Steve Amy

Top returning wrestlers: Carlos Benavidez, sr., 144; Ace Christiansen, jr., 138; Casey Etheridge, so., 157/165; Kaydin Gibson, jr., 126; Cade Odell, jr., 285; Augustus Swanson, so., 106; Heather Heider, sr., 170; Izzy Gibson, so., 106; Josie Leone, sr., 145

Top newcomers: Arthur Burden, jr., 190; Anthony Lewis, jr., 144; Abe Longeville, fr., 144; Landon Kendall, fr., 175; Kaitlynn Hartmann, jr., 135; Rylee Backes, fr., 100; Abby Harris, fr., 115; Jadeyn Klingenburg, fr.

Worth noting: The Tigers open the season with high prospects and optimism, ranked 15th as a team in Class 1A by with a lineup of five ranked wrestlers. Swanson (42-10 last season) is ranked No. 3, Odell (30-10) is No. 4, Benavidez (31-14) is No. 9 and Christiansen (38-12) is No. 10, while Etheridge (31-15) is honorable mention. Swanson and Christiansen are returning state qualifiers. Also returning are seniors Preston Arkels (150/157) and Justin DePauw (150), juniors Mike Kirth (jr., 144) and Ian Morris (215) and sophomores Eli Berlin (190), Mike Kurth (144), Gage Nutter (132), Grayson Rockey (175) and Rhett Pearson (215). “This should be a very exciting year for us. We return all but two from last year’s lineup that graduated. So we have a lot of talent and experience coming back,” Amy said. “It may take a little while for us to get going as many of these guys are coming off of a great football season. We have five guys currently ranked at their weight classes so we are looking for really big things out of them to lead the team in the right direction. They have been working really hard so far and it has been great.” For the Princeton girls, Heider, Gibson and Leone all have postseason experience, while four new wrestlers join the team. This will be the first season girls have regionals having previously started the postseason with sectionals.