WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW: Pekin wrestling seeking individual gainsPanthers short on seniors but not on talent
Head Coach: Al Chapman, 5th year
Key Returnees: Brandon Baayen (Sr.), Trenton Conger (Sr.)
Outlook: Short on numbers, the Panthers are looking to make individual gains early in the season. Conger and Baayen will lead a team that could have plenty of success by the end of the season.
The Pekin wrestling team normally relies on a strong senior class to propel them through the winter.
This season, coach Al Chapman and company will need to look elsewhere. The squad has only two seniors, meaning the inexperienced will be thrown into varsity action very quickly.
Two state qualifiers have graduated, leaving the two seniors, Trenton Conger and Brandon Baayen, as the clear leaders of the team. Conger has 76 career wins and was a district qualifier last season. He will wrestle at either the 195 or the 220 weight class. Baayen (113) qualified for district competition his freshman year, but injuries have prevented him from taking a step up over the last two seasons. Even with the injuries, he has managed to record 74 career victories on the mat.
“One of our goals is to get them both up to the century mark in wins,” said Chapman. “It would mean a lot to our team if they both had successful seasons.”
Juniors Scott Entsminger (160) and Matthew Bollinger return as middleweights and received valuable experience the last two seasons. Sophomores Clayton McKim, Riley Brown, Garrett Bowermaster and Michael Hadley will round out the Pekin lineup.
“We have a few guys that are flying under the radar,” Chapman said. “It’s just a matter of opening them up and getting them aggressive.”
Pekin will face a mix of 1A and 2A schools. The toughest team the Panthers will have to contend with is also a conference opponent: Mediapolis. The Bulldogs have an excellent chance of winning the state title this season after narrowly losing it last year. These two teams will square off at the Lone Tree triangular on Jan. 30, which is Pekin’s last competition of the season. This will give Chapman a good idea of where his team stands heading into the postseason.
The Panthers begin their season at home Dec. 3 when they host Lynnville-Sully, B-G-M (Brooklyn) and Sigourney. This competition is the first of three home meets Pekin has to begin the year.
Chapman will need all of his wrestlers to stay focused in order to win meets. The team is small, so covering weight classes will be a giant issue overshadowing the Panthers. There are only 13 wrestlers to fill 14 weight classes.
“Our biggest challenge this year will be small numbers,” Chapman said. “There is no way we’ll be able to fill all the weights. We’re going to look at individual goals and then the scores should take care of themselves.”
Pekin 2013-14 Schedule: Varsity Wrestling
12/3 vs. Lynnville-Sully, BGM, Sigourney
12/7 Pekin Invite*
12/12 vs. Columbus/Cardinal
12/14 @ Tri-County*
12/19 @ Van Buren/W. Burl.-Notre Dame
12/20 @ Davis County (JV Tourney)*
12/21 @ Iowa City Regina*
1/3 @ West Burlington
1/9 @ Cardinal/Davis County
1/11 @ PCM*
1/13 @ New London (JV Tourney)*
1/18 @ WACO*
1/23 @ WACO/Highland
1/27 @ Sigourney
1/28 @ Wapello Triangular w/ Fairfield
1/30 @ Lone Tree/Mediapolis
TBA @ Districts/ SEISC Tournament*
* — tournament