The seniors on the Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team showed promise early, but haven't lived up to the expectations of third-year coach Josh Heffernan.

The seniors on the Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team showed promise early, but haven't lived up to the expectations of third-year coach Josh Heffernan.

"We've got three of them who have been district qualifiers and three others who have been close, maybe a point or two here or there," Heffernan said. "This is their last chance and I could see seven of them making district if things go right.

"But as a group they have underachieved, so they're hungry and that's a good thing. There is no clear-cut stud or state medalist among them, but they're good leaders and hard workers. Their commitment has been outstanding and they have dreams. So I'm wondering which ones will be the story of the year."

Christion Brooks, a two-time Division I district qualifier at 171 pounds, will move to 189. He was fourth in the sectional the past two seasons and finished 23-18 last year.

Matt Cornell, who moved to Marion Elgin after his sophomore year at Delaware, is back with the Pacers. He was a district qualifier last season when he finished 33-10 at 171 for the Comets and set the program's season record with 69 near-falls.

"It's been great being back, playing on a playoff football team and now back with a good core of seniors on the wrestling team," said Cornell, who went 19-9 at 152 as a sophomore with the Pacers but did not compete in the postseason because of cauliflower ear. "I missed my friends."

Cornell and Brooks will keep each other sharp as practice partners.

"Last year, the closest in weight to me was at 152," said Brooks, who weighs 180. "I did a lot of wrestling against coaches. Now I've got someone near my weight I can work with, and he's really good."

Cornell also will enjoy the workout challenge.

"He's good and should push me as much as I push him," said Cornell, whose team opens Saturday in the Wazie tournament at Mount Vernon. "We're going to help each other improve and work hard. Overall, everything is clicking on the team. We have talent and a good coach who knows his stuff and can get us where we want to go."

Last season Delaware was seventh in the 10-team Wazie with 314 points as Mason (592) won. Senior Mark Rieman was runner-up at 135, classmate Greg Flaglor was third at 119 and graduate Nate Hauff was third at 145.

Flaglor was a district qualifier in 2007 after placing fourth at 119 in the sectional. Last season, he was disappointed to place sixth in the sectional and finish 24-12. He was one of three Pacers to finish sixth, joining senior Michael Austin (125) and Rieman. Austin finished 22-13. Rieman, who went 20-16, also was sixth at sectional as a sophomore when he finished 26-17.

"Right now, it looks like Flaglor will wrestle at 119 again and Austin will be back at 125, but that could change," Heffernan said. "Rieman could go 135 or 140."

Senior Brent Spivey will be at 135. He was a district alternate as a sophomore at 119, but struggled last season at 130. Senior Nik Oesterle (152) also returns to the lineup and Heffernan said he has made tremendous strides.

Other seniors include Dylan Thomas and first-year competitor Jordan West, both of whom will compete at 152 or 160. In addition Shayne Perry, who did not wrestle last season, is back for his senior season and will compete at 189 or 215.

"Everyone is talking about the district qualifiers and the guys that were close last year, but I'd say Spivey and Oesterle are going to surprise people and have big seasons, too," Brooks said. "I think we can win the (OCC-Central) and get several guys to state. We're ready for a big year."

Rieman's brother, 2004 graduate Kevin Rieman, is the last Delaware wrestler to compete at state as he made his third trip as a senior.

Junior Joey Sumner is the only underclassman who earned a letter last year that returned. He moves from 145 to 160.

Others among the 30 in the program battling for positions include juniors Matt Giannakos (125/130) and Mike Kalista (145) and freshmen Joel Calfe (145) and Seth McCurdy (103).

"We have a senior-dominated team and we have the most guys we've had out in my three years, so it will be the fullest lineup we've had," Heffernan said. "Plus I've been with my assistants Ben Trimble and Kevin Rieman for three years now and we're working well together and understand where we want the program to go and how to achieve that. We've grown.

"We added volunteer Shawn Gray to the staff and he will coach the junior varsity. He's a math teacher and understands technique and angles and is a good addition."

At a glance

•Coach: Josh Heffernan, third season

•Opener: Saturday at Wazie tournament at Mount Vernon

•Key wrestlers: Michael Austin, Christion Brooks, Matt Cornell, Greg Flaglor, Nik Oesterle, Mark Rieman and Brent Spivey