The McClain High School wrestling team is looking at a tough season, but coach Shane Paul said he hopes to see individual improvements in his wrestlers as the year goes by.
“The expectation is to improve every day, get better and then compete,” Paul said. “I’m not expecting that we’re going to be a great wrestling team, but we’re looking to improve on a daily basis.”
And, so far, Paul said he’s seen some improvement already.
“I’m seeing improvement in practices,” he said. “I’m seeing a lot of hard work. So long as they’re showing up and they’re working hard, they’re going to get better.”
Paul told The Times-Gazette he’s willing to invest in his lineup for the next couple years.
“We’re probably two years out from being a really good team if everybody sticks with it,” he said.
Paul’s lineup of 11 wrestlers includes nine underclassmen. McClain’s six freshman, three sophomores, one junior and one senior will tough it out this year, Paul said, and gain experience in the process.
“There’ll be a large learning curve for the younger boys,” Paul said.
Despite the team’s inexperience, Paul said he has several wrestlers who show promise.
District placer and league and sectional champion Jake Badgley returns with quite a few career wins and brings some experience to the table.
“He’s at a really high level,” Paul said.
Keegan Rawlins is also looking good so far with almost 70 wins in the past two years.
Kyler Trefz, Phil Waters, Quinton Smith and Shane Huff are working hard, according to Paul.
“With the guys we have out there, we’re going to do pretty well,” Paul said.
Paul said his only senior, Conner Morarity, brings some experience after trying wrestling for several years, but has never completed a season.
Sophomore Ethan Taylor had 19 wins in his freshman year, and has improved quite a bit since last season, Paul said.
“He’s lifted with me all offseason,” Paul said. “He’s improved with his strength and that’ll help him out.”
Newcomer Kai Borelli, a 220-pounder, will take quite a few lumps this year, Paul said, but he’s been doing well in practices.
Paul said McClain’s most intimidating challenger is the Graham High School Falcons.
“They’ll be the toughest team we’ll wrestle,” he said, “but we have a really tough league. Every team is tough. We’ve got a lot of respect for what Hillsboro is doing, they really have their program going in the right direction, so they’ll be tough. Miami Trace will be the favorite to win the league this year. Washington Court House, Clinton-Massie and Wilmington High School all have a lot of kids who will be tough, too.”
McClain had a losing season last year due to trouble filling weight classes, Paul said.
“I’ve had six seasons here, three winning and three losing, so as far as the program goes, we’re average,” Paul said. “It’ll be tough again this year to win matches. Mainly, I just want to focus on daily improvement and individual successes. We’re going to try to get some league champions and move on to the district and state tournament, but we don’t have the numbers or experience, top to bottom, to be a really competitive team.”
Regardless, Paul said he’s looking forward to the season.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us for sure,” he said.
The McClain High School boys wrestling team will travel to Jackson this Saturday for the American Legion Post 81 Tournament, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
David Wright is the sports editor for The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at 937-402-2570.