By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Coaching Staff: Deagan Foster, Bill Jackson, Tyler Brown.
2022-23 Notable Finishes: 2nd at Malvern Invitational; 4th at D3 Classic; 3rd at Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Tournament.
Returning Lettermen (8): Rex Fryer, sr.; Aidan King, sr.; Jayden Hakin, sr.; Bradyn Robinson, jr.; Austin Hurst, jr.; Dublin Porter, jr.; Jeremiah Willis, jr.; Jack White, soph.
“We have good senior leadership on our team this season and a room full of very competitive kids that all work extremely hard every single day,” Foster said. “Our numbers aren’t great, but we feel we have several kids that have the ability to have an outstanding season and hopefully continue the trend of sending qualifiers to the state tournament.”
Success will find the Vikings, in Foster’s eyes, if his wrestlers continue to maintain their “level of energy and effort in the classroom, weight room and wrestling room every day.”
At 106 pounds, Porter returns for his third season after becoming a district qualifier last year.
“He has wrestled very light for the weight class in previous years, but this season, Dublin will be much more comfortable at 106 and we are expecting him to improve beyond districts.”
Willis was another district qualifier a year ago and will wrestle at 113.
“He really started to come on late last season and has continued to show constant improvement in the room.”
Also at 113 will be Hayden Mays, who is a freshman that returns to the mat after missing a large part of his junior-high season with an injury.
“Hayden is a very coachable kid that will absolutely compete for the starting spot at 113.”
Brody Hamrick and Landein Widener will be at 120.
“Brody is new to the sport, but always brings great effort to the room. He is quick to catch on, and we are looking forward to seeing a lot of success from him as the season progresses.
“Landein is another newcomer to our team, who comes with some previous wrestling experience.”
One of the team’s senior leaders is Rex Fryer at 126 pounds.
“Rex is a great kid to have in the room that works hard everyday on his own, as well as helping some of the younger, less experienced kids in the room.”
Fryer’s 2022-23 season ended early with an injury, which required off-season surgery.
“We felt that Rex had the potential to be a state qualifier last year. He has worked hard all off-season to get back to where he left off and is focused on making the trip to Columbus this season.”
At 132, Braydn Robinson and Jack White are slated to compete.
“Bradyn is a kid that wrestled all through youth and into high school, so he comes in with a lot of knowledge. He is a competitive kid that, with the right amount of mental focus, has the ability to make it to the top of the podium at any given tournament.”
White also possesses knowledge and worked tirelessly in the weight room throughout the off-season.
“Jack’s increase in strength has been noticeable and with it, along with his wrestling knowledge, is going to make him very competitive this season.”
King is another senior leader, and he will wrestle at 138. He filled his off-season with work in preparation for his final season.
“As Aidan’s confidence improves, he is going to be a young man that is tough to bat. He has his sights set on being in Columbus this year and with the right focus, we feel he absolutely has the ability to make it there.”
Sammy Russell, wrestling at 144, is another Viking that had last year cut short because of injury.
“He is a young man that is highly competitive, and we feel he has the ability to have a breakout season.”
Austin Hurst will wrestle at 150 after joining the team later in the season last year. Foster describes him as the perfect example of a football player using wrestling to improve his game.
“Austin is one of the hardest-working kids in the weight room and the wrestling room every single day. He is another kid that as the season goes on and he gets more match experience, we feel he is going to drastically improve and see a lot of success.”
Another team leader, Hakin, wrestling at 165 pounds, was a district qualifier two years ago as a sophomore. As a junior, his season was cut short by an injury.
“Jayden is the type of young man that absolutely gives you everything he has at all times. He has put in a lot of work in the weight room in the off-season and has increased his strength dramatically.”
“The effort we see in the room every day. We are fortunate to have great leadership from our seniors and the level of effort they demand in the room is absolutely something special.”
Jack White, Sammy Russell.
“Stay healthy. Stay healthy. Stay healthy. We are a small squad, which makes it tough when we compete in duals. So we need every person we possibly can to stay competitive. It is a long and hard season, so we just always hope for each of our wrestlers to stay as healthy as possible throughout the entire season.”
“Our teams compete in the Portage County League, Division 4 of the Eastern Ohio Wrestling League and the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference. Within the PCL, Aurora, Streetsboro and Rootstown always have strong showings. Within the EOWL, Jackson-Milton and Malvern will most likely be favored. Within the MVAC, Jackson-Milton and Garrettsville will be favored, but hopefully, we can remain healthy and compete for an MVAC title.”