Coach James Jones and the Hillsboro High School wrestling team have their eyes on the top half of the league this year.
“As a team, we want to finish in the top three in the league,” Jones told The Times-Gazette. “Coming into this season, each kid wants to try and win league in their weight class, and hopefully get into the state tournament.”
Jones said the team has a lot going for it this year in its junior class, but his younger wrestlers are inexperienced.
“We have more returning starters, so that’s a huge plus,” he said. “There are guys that are coming into the room with a lot of experience under their belt. They know what it takes to win.”
Jones said returning letterman Austin Miller is looking good.
“We’re expecting some good things out of him,” he said. “He’s the only senior on the team.”
In the junior class, state qualifier Dawson Carter returns this year, along with district qualifier Mason Stanley and sectional placer Deegan Boris.
“The junior class in general has got a lot of starters,” he said. “Wyatt Wilkin, Chad Bieler and Jared Conn all have a season under their belt, and they’ll do way better than last year.”
As for his younger wrestlers, Jones said there’s plenty of room for improvement.
“Some of these guys have little to no wrestling experience,” he said. “You have to explain a lot of things and work with them.”
When asked who he thought Hillsboro’s toughest rival might be, he said any given school in the league could fit the bill.
“Miami Trace, Washington Court House, Clinton-Massie, Greenfield, those are always battles for us year in and year out,” he said. “Our league is very, very competitive in the sport of wrestling.”
Jones said even though he and the team are focused on competition, he doesn’t want to forget the greater lessons behind the sport.
“I tell them it’s about being part of something bigger than yourself,” he said. “I try to teach them the idea of sacrificing for the team and for other people, being a good part of the community — that’s what it’s all about.”
David Wright is the sports editor for the Times-Gazette. He can be reached at 937-402-2570.