ELKINS - New Elkins High wrestling coach Rick Reed faces many challenges this year but believes his team will be competitive in several weight classes
Reed was an assistant for last years' coach, Chris Hamrick, and before that he was a middle school coach in Ohio.
The Tigers return seven grapplers from the 2012-2013 squad, starting with Tyler Reed, a sophomore wrestling in the 113 lb. class; Devon Young, a sophomore at 126 lbs.; Alex Taylor, a sophomore at 145 lbs.; Dylan Lucas, the only senior, wrestling in the 152 lb. class; Hunter Shipp, a junior at 160 lbs.; Jerrick Reams, a junior at 182 lbs.; and Shane Mallow, a sophomore at 190 lbs.
Newcomers this year include Donnie Lambert at 113 lbs.; Logan Mullenax at 138 lbs.; Jason Lambert at 145 lbs.; Cody Williams at 145 lbs.; and Caleb Means at 160 lbs.
With only 12 boys on the roster, and some of them in the same weight class - along with the fact that there are 14 weight classes in West Virginia high school wrestling matches - one of Reed's challenges is self-evident. Especially since a forfeit in a weight class will cost a team six points, whereas a loss only counts as three points.
"Although it's tough having kids moving up or down in weight, we'll make some changes and we should have the majority of the classes filled," Reed said.
When talking about his expectations for this year, Reed said, "I'd really like to see them do well before the regionals, because that's when the competition really ratchets up."
He's optimistic however, adding, "Last year we had four freshmen and one senior that were just one match away from the state tournament. I think we can have that kind of production again."
Those freshmen are now sophomores and Reed is expecting them, along with Lucas, to be the leaders for his team.
The schedule is another challenge the Tigers will have to overcome.
Because Reed was confirmed as the coach of EHS late in the process, he did not have time to put together a full schedule.
As of right now all of Elkins' matches are on the road, although Reed said some home matches may be added in the future.
The squad's first road contest is a tri-meet at Preston County at 5 p.m. Thursday.
They follow that up with the Keyser Invitational at 9 a.m. Dec. 14.