Having had six freshmen regularly competing in its lineup last season, the Dublin Coffman High School wrestling team remains relatively young.
However, that doesn't mean the Shamrocks are necessarily inexperienced this season.
"The majority of our roster will be underclassmen," said second-year coach Chance Van Gundy, whose team opens in the Dublin City Championships on Thursday, Dec. 5, at Scioto. "Although we'll be considered young on paper, we should have more experience throughout our lineup this season."
Coffman has returned four Division I district qualifiers from a year ago in senior Riley Young (heavyweight, 20-16 record last season), junior Adnan Mohamud (132 pounds, 14-21) and sophomores Lucas Manarolla (126, 23-13) and Willy Plaisir (145, 24-19).
Freshmen Dominick Demas (138), Ben Frye (182), Jakaria Hossan (106) and Joey Lowers (113) are expected to step into starting roles.
"We have several weights that will be highly contested and should work themselves out by midseason," Van Gundy said. "The competition within the weight room has improved tremendously from a year ago."
The Shamrocks must replace the only state qualifier from the three Dublin teams to reach the podium last season in 2013 graduate Markell Wooden, who went 3-2 to place seventh at 160 and finished the season 42-6.
Wooden was Coffman's lone state qualifier a year ago.
The Shamrocks are looking for a better finish in the OCC-Central Division this season after going 2-5 last year to place sixth behind champion Marysville (7-0).
"We are in arguably the toughest OCC division for wrestling," Van Gundy said. "We have the defending district champs (Marysville) and (last year's district) runner-up (Hilliard Davidson) in our division.
"Last season, we were able to get a couple of wins within our (league). ... We expect more of the same this season."
Lack of depth could hurt Celtics in duals
Sixth-year Jerome coach Adam Huddle expects his team to hold its own in tournaments this season. But with 23 athletes in the program, he isn't sure how well the Celtics will fare in dual matches.
Jerome opened Nov. 30, placing fifth (344 points) behind champion Delaware (531) in the 12-team Bad Apple Brawl at Mount Vernon.
"We have a lot of youth and not a lot of depth," Huddle said. "We like what we have back, but we're very thin. We're just going to have to take a little bit different approach and win the matches we can win."
Jerome has returned five Division I district qualifiers in seniors Josh Transue (113, 36-10) and Logan Mosher (160, 19-16), juniors Liam Dunlea (120, 21-13) and Alex Jacobs (145, 26-21) and sophomore Seth Transue (106, 34-11).
Josh Transue finished first in the Bad Apple Brawl. Seth Transue placed second in the event, with Jacobs (fourth) and sophomore Jake Isele (152, fourth) also earning top spots.
Also expected to be key contributors are junior Owen Stein (160) and sophomore Emilio Paesano (heavyweight).
Jerome lost its only state qualifier from a year ago to graduation in Brett Mowery, who went 1-2 at state at 220 to finish the season 26-4.
Also graduating were three district qualifiers in Bennett Comfort (145, 35-5), Alec Hood (160, 32-18) and Andrew Pearson (152, 30-12).
The Celtics went 3-4 in the OCC-Cardinal last season to place fifth behind champion Hilliard Darby (7-0). Scioto finished seventh (1-6) in the league.
"We've had some guys who really had some good offseasons," Huddle said.
"Some of our young guys look really good and we're going to be looking to them to help us compete in our dual matches."
Irish also dealing with low numbers
With only 20 athletes in his program, third-year Scioto coach Aaron McKenzie has been having a difficult time piecing together his lineup.
That said, he expects to see plenty of individual improvement this season.
"We're low on numbers, so we're going to have a tough time filling all the weight classes," said McKenzie, whose team opens Thursday, Dec. 5, in the Dublin City Championships at home.
"We're trying to get guys to understand that our team score is not an indication of how we're doing."
Scioto returns only one Division I district qualifier in sophomore Ras Lumpkins (220, 15-19), but McKenzie also has been impressed by the offseason improvements of seniors Jeffrey Jarry (182, 16-20), Cameron Wallace (160, 15-14) and Nick Horvat (145) and junior Dareal Vasser (152, 10-14).
Another key contributor should be junior heavyweight Brennen Sawicki, who sat out last season.
"(Sawicki) doesn't even look like he's missed a step," McKenzie said.
Others expected to be key contributors include sophomore Matt Michael (120) and freshmen Jared Nolan (132) and Brian Zimmerman (220). Michael missed most of last season because of an injury.
The Irish lost their only state qualifier from last season in 2013 graduate Yoshi Akutsu, who went 1-2 at heavyweight in his first state appearance to finish the season 38-7. The Irish also lost a district qualifier to graduation in Anthony Trocchio (152, 33-9).
"From an individual standpoint, we should be pretty good," McKenzie said. "But the forfeits are going to kill us (in dual matches). I did change up the schedule this year so (that) we weren't going to (compete in) as many meat grinders. We've picked up some tournaments with some solid Division III and Division II opponents."