The Golden Bears will try to make another run at both Class A championships after losing eight starters. They included three who won state traditional individual titles — Jason Grimes (182 pounds), Grant Chastain (152) and Brendan Quigley (132 — and another three who placed at state — John Hiles (second at 113), Grant Gosden (third at 195) and Stephen Williams (fourth at 160).
“It’s fairly simple,” Holy Innocents’ coach Stacey Davis said. “New guys have to step up each and every year — that’s part of being a successful program. Leadership will change on a yearly basis. So guys who were maybe in the background will now have to step to the forefront and take the leadership role and that’s what’s simply going on right now. Some guys are growing up quickly. We’re growing as a team and that’s what you look for as a coach.”
Holy Innocents’ opened the season with two wins in its five matches at the Walton Duals Dec. 7, then defeated Lovett 36-27 in a dual match last Tuesday.
“We’re right on track for what I expect — being a young team, technically,” Davis said. “There are a lot of guys who are getting their eyes open. We have four freshmen and a senior who are cracking the lineup for the first time and with that comes growing pains. I’m happy about where we’re at. We’re, as far as practice-wise, slightly farther ahead than we were last year.”
While the Golden Bears lost a number of state placers, they do return four to the lineup.
Sophomore Liam Quigley — the state runner-up at 145 pounds last year — and third-place 138-pound finisher Owen Penn — a senior — both return at still undetermined weights, while senior Rod Davis, who finished third at 170, moves up to the 195-pound weight class and sophomore Logan Chastain (fifth at 120) will wrestle at 132.
Seniors Ross Waters (126), Blake Barber (138), Joseph Brinkley (152 or 160), William Morton (182) and Ben Rousseau (220) and junior Jake Walton (145) are the other key wrestlers for the Golden Bears.
“We have great leadership coming back,” Davis said. “These guys are going to have to step up and provide leadership and that is what’s essentially happening.”