As head coach Steve Palmer heads into his 12th season leading the Granville Golden Horde wrestlers onto the mat the team faces a challenge that is as daunting as it is typical of high school sports.
The team’s graduation losses were big, very big.
With the departure of Eric Hastings who placed in the New York State Tournament last season and the school’s wins leader in Karl Palmer, any team would face a challenge to replace those wrestlers.
However, adding the loss of Brendan Miller and Kurt Ehntholt and the team lost four 100-plus win wrestlers and years of experience to graduation in June.
As a part of a milestone-filled season in which Hastings, Miller and Ehntholt each reached the lofty 100-win plateau, the team went undefeated in regular dual meets suffering their only team losses at dual meet tournaments and took back the Wasaren League title.
While reaching those goals are not out of the question, there are some questions about how the team will get there with some new wrestlers hitting the mats for the Golden Horde.
Granville returns proven wrestlers in Wasaren League all star Hayden Miller, Nathaniel Palmer, Steven Cohan and Christian Carr, a Class C place finisher last season.
While weight classes are yet to be determined, palmer said he expects Miller to be a rangy 145-pounder, Palmer 132, Cohan 120 or Brad Hanna at 120. Newcomer to Granville, but not to the mats will be the likely heavyweight Josh McKittrick at 285.
Palmer said the lineup has had to fill seven vacancies from last year seniors with four of them 100-plus career wins caliber wrestlers.
“Our emphasis is on what we can control. The league is as competitive as it ever has been, so we are focusing on day-to-day goals of strengthening our core tactics and in (mixing) them with some wildcard moves not seen from us but are high percentage moves; such as the inside trip,” Palmer said. “We had two high level competitors in Palmer and Cohan who weren’t able to finish out Last season and are that much more motivated to raise the stakes and drive their teammates to excel,” he said.
“We have many who have been a part of last year’s success who want to repeat it. If we can stay on the mats (healthy), I am looking for another stellar year,” Palmer said.