By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Coaching Staff: Logan Penix, varsity assistant; Joey Hancock, varsity assistant.
2021-22 Record: Third-place finish in the Portage Trail Conference.
Returning Lettermen (9): Travis Hummel, Owen Roberts, Matthew Plum, Kasey Pruitt, Cole Reese, Ronnie Skye, Tyler Shellenbarger, Mia Gaetjens, Hanna Plum.
Lettermen Lost (4): Brady Funk, Tyler Knight, Michael Lowe, Zoe Gaetjens.
The Wildcats are much younger this year, with only two seniors on the roster and four juniors. The rest of the roster is top-heavy with underclassmen, including nine sophomores and eight freshmen.
“We need to wrestle to our potential in every match, and we need to stay healthy,” head coach Duane Funk said.
An group of underclassmen highlight the group.
Mason King, a freshman, has unlimited potential, according to Funk.
“He works hard in practice and it will pay off during the season,” Funk said.
Sophomore Owen Roberts is a returning district qualifier and will wrestle up a weight class.
Sophomore Blake Hershberger is athletic and just started wrestling a year ago.
“He has really picked up on his technique,” Funk said.
Another sophomore, Breaden Manley, continues to work and improve his technique.
Sophomore Sydney Frotner enters her first year wrestling.
“She is working hard and getting better every day,” Funk said.
Junior Hanna Plum is a returning state qualifier and has aspirations to get to the podium this year.
Freshmen Jane Woods and Kai Gaetjens are making great improvements, while sophomore Elizabeth Terry enters her first season in the sport.
Junior Travis Hummel, a returning district qualifier, will wrestling up a couple of weight classes this season.
Sophomore Kasey Pruitt battled injuries throughout last season.
“He is a solid wrestler, and we are looking forward to seeing what he can do when healthy,” Funk said.
Matthew Plum, a sophomore, was a district alternate last year and worked hard in the weight room all summer to take his skills to the next level.
Junior Ronnie Skye was another district qualifier last year, and he is working hard every day, according to Funk.
Funk described sophomore Cole Reese as a “hard-working kid, who is getting better at technique.”
Freshman Ben Hollar and senior Austin McElwain continue to improve through the course of every practice.
Mia Gaetjens, who is a two-time state qualifier that placed seventh overall last year, is looking to climb higher on the podium the syear in Columbus.
Mackenzie “MJ” Shellenbarger, who is a freshman, is strong and tough.
The senior lead is Tyler Shellenbarger.
He was a state qualifier last year.
“Tyler worked hard during the summer to get better every day. He is our leader this year, and he will do a great job in that role,” Funk said.
Freshman Patrick Kinsell, who came on for the Wildcats during the football season, is a hard working and strong wrestler.
“We are looking forward to see what he can do at the high-school level,” Funk said.
Freshmen Dylan Benedum and Matthew Trusky also fill out the lineup.
“Dylan is strong and a good technician. Matthew has continued to improve every year,” Funk said.
“They are a great group of kids that push each other in practice and in the weight room,” Funk said.
Mason King, fresh.; Owen Roberts, soph.; Travis Hummel, jr.; Kasey Pruitt, soph.; Matthew Plum, soph.; Ronnie Skye, soph.; Patrick Kinsell, fresh.; Dylan Benedum, fresh.; Jane Woods, fresh.; Kai Gaetjens, fresh.; Mia Gaetjens, jr.; Mackenzie Shellenbarger, fresh.
Respect all, fear none.
“Staying healthy through a very long season,” Funk said.
“Rootstown is the team on top with strong underclassmen. We are going to give them our best shot,” Funk said.
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