With 12 of 14 starters returning, it is fair to say head coach Adrian Tramutola has high expectations for the Wildcats heading into the 2013-14 season, which begins Saturday at Alexander High.
“We should be right there in the hunt this year. With so many guys coming back, I feel really confident,” Tramutola said. “We have some guys who definitely need to get better, but from top to bottom, we’re strong. Every year that’s our goal, is to try and win a state championship. We’ve been fortunate to be there the last three years. The last two we’ve come up short.”
The Wildcats return five state qualifiers from last season, including sophomore Logan Sims, who is a defending state champ, and Jake Huffine, who was third last year in the state.
“Logan Sims is one of our leaders who has accomplished a lot in our sport and kids can kind of look at how he trained and see what he did,” Tramutola said.
Woodland will need leaders to step up with the loss of Zach Frye to graduation.
“Losing Zach Frye was a big loss to us,” Tramutola said. “He was a great leader and had a great year last year for us.”
Two wrestlers who can step up and fill the leadership void as seniors, as well as contribute on the mat, are Isaiah Ross and Jermel Lewis.
“These kids that are seniors, they’ve been in the state finals every year that they’ve been in high school,” Tramutola said. “That’s kind of the expectation that they set for our team. We have several that are back that had great years last year.”
Senior Jacob May, junior Matthew Evans and sophomores Spencer Cooper and Brett Shedd are all key returners.
For these wrestlers and the rest of the team, the goal is to try to win the state duals championship and Tramutola believes the best way to do that is to compete against other highly competitive opponents.
“We have a pretty tough schedule. We set it up that way to make sure that our kids are battle tested by the time we make it to the state tournament,” he said. “This year, we’re going the first weekend to Alexander. They were state runner-ups last year. Woodward Academy, who is the defending state champion in their division, will be there.
“So those are some good teams right off the bat and then we go the following weekend … to the Blackbeard Duals where Archer and Gilmer, who are the defending state champs in their divisions, are there.
“We get thrown right into the fire the first two weeks of the season.”
The Wildcats hope their tough schedule will help them prepare for the region and state tournaments.
“In the region, we won the duals the last three years in a row and we’ve won the traditional region the last two years in a row,” Tramutola said. “With the amount of kids we have coming back, I don’t know if you could say we’re the favorite, but we look to go in there and do well like we’ve done in the past.
“Teams like Allatoona, they’re pretty tough this year. Allatoona and South Paulding are the teams in our region so we’ll have to battle with them to get out.”