PREP WRESTLING: Hawks starting over this season (11/21)

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By Josh Claywell

Heading into what he has said is his final year of coaching, LaRue County’s Gary Canter feels like Bill Murray in the movie “Groundhog Day.”

Just like Murray’s character waking up to Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You Babe” each morning and repeating the day over and over, the Hawks almost have to start over from scratch every day because of so many newcomers.

“Practice has been like that movie,” Canter said. “We have had so many newcomers come and go, it feels like we are starting over every day.”

There’s a pretty big reason the Hawks have several newcomers.

LaRue County has to replace seven starters from last season’s team, which finished fourth at State and produced one state champion in Bernard Ray and two runner-ups in Drew Newberry and Nick Paden.

Also gone are Dylan Sheldon, Taylor Albert, Ethan Hutchinson, Mason Ray, Shawn Hull and Eli Meredith, leaving Canter with some pretty big holes to fill.

“How do you replace half of your wins and four wrestlers who finished in the top three in the state?” Canter asked. “We lost seven starters and it will be difficult to find experienced wrestlers to replace these guys. We will struggle early, but if we can survive the early part of the season, we should be ready by the end of the year. This may be the first year since 1997 that we are a better tournament team than we are a dual team.”

While the Hawks lost a lot of firepower, the cupboards are far from bare.

LaRue County returns four defending region champions in junior 120-pounder Kyle Edlin, junior 138-pounder Raymundo Perez, senior 170-pounder Caleb Canter and senior 182-pounder B.J. Carman.

Edlin, who moves up from 106, and Canter begin the season ranked No. 1 in their weight classes by kentuckywrestling.com.

“Kyle has grown up quite a bit since last year. He should be plenty strong enough to compete even though he is moving up several weight classes,” Gary Canter said. “Caleb has gotten astronomically stronger. He will be a legit 170 this year and not a glorified 152. He has his sights set on a state championship. He had the world’s worst draw at State and was disappointed with his finish. I don’t think he will be disappointed this year.”

Perez and Carman are ranked second in their classes. Carman finished third at State last season, while Perez placed sixth.

“Raymundo is a very feisty wrestler with an unorthodox style. He is ready to make a legitimate run this year for a title,” Gary Canter said. “B.J. is the incredible shrinking man. He was a heavyweight as a sophomore and a 195 last year. He has lost all remnants of his heavyweight days and is lean and cut. I would be surprised if he did not win it all this year.”

Also back are seniors Tanner Mouser (126) and Jared Whitlock (160) and freshman Dylan West (132).

“Tanner is a much improved wrestler and has also gained a good deal of strength. Tanner has great potential and if he wrestles to that, he could make a good run this year,” Gary Canter said. “Dylan has had a tremendous offseason and has really developed. Jared is deceivingly strong and could have a great year if he approaches it with the right attitude.”

Sophomore Brent Dunn (145) is also back after wrestling four matches last season.

“Brent is a second-year wrestler who is much improved and shows signs of being competitive,” Gary Canter said.

Newcomers include seventh-grader Dalton Bell and eighth-grader Stiles Metcalfe (106), eighth-grader Dawson Bingham (113) and senior Nathan Bell (285), who has missed a big chunk of the last two years because of injuries.

“Dalton is a product of our youth team. He’s a little under-sized, but a solid wrestler,” Gary Canter said. “Dawson is very technically sound and has great potential. Stiles is also solid, but under-sized.

“Nathan is extremely strong and has grown into a legitimate heavyweight,” he added. “He could be a force to be reckoned with across the state. I look for good things out of him.”

Even though the Hawks are chock full of wrestlers with limited experience, their goals aren’t changing.

LaRue County still wants to win State Duals and the region and state tournaments.

“We have been in this position several times over the past 15 years, but this is by far the most inexperienced wrestlers that we will put on the mat overall,” Gary Canter said. “We have the horses to score high in all tournaments, but we need some help from our new boys to make our goals a reality. Hopefully by the end of the season, the replacements will have the maturity and experience to help us make a run.”

Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or jclaywell@thenewsenterprise.com.