Madison County’s wrestling team is back on the mats — minus most of last year’s successful squad.
Gone are 11 seniors from last year’s team, including nine starters. Madison County is also without two state placers from last year’s team: Isaac Ruiz, who earned fourth place honors at 145 lbs., and Cody Phillips, who took sixth at 125 lbs.
“We’re kind of in a rebuilding mode,” said Red Raider head coach Ritchie Houston. “We’re going back to the basics. We’ve got a lot of young guys. In the next year or two we’re going to see a lot of benefits from our youth program that we started about four years ago. It’s just taking a little time to get those guys at the high school level.”
Madison County has 32 guys on this year’s squad, including five seniors: Steven Resby, Andrew McCannon, Tanner Gordon, Ereck Larkins and Calvin Davis.
The Red Raiders started practice Nov. 1, working on moves and conditioning in the hot “Barn.”
Houston said there are 17-18 freshmen and sophomores on this year’s team.
He said his squad will face some tough competition in Region 8-AAAA this year.
“Our region is pretty tough,” said Houston. “Rockdale finished third in the state and they have a lot of guys back. Clarke Central has a lot of guys back. Loganville will be tough again. They won our region, but then we placed ahead of them at the state tournament. They graduated a bunch of guys, but they’ll be tough again.”
Houston said he’s not sure yet who will fill each weight class for the Red Raiders this year. Actually, the weight classes have been changed for the first time in 22 years. New weight classes are: 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285.
Madison County opens the 2011-12 season on the road Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 5 p.m. versus Banks County. The team’s first home match is Thursday, Dec. 1, at 5 p.m. versus Washington Wilkes at 5 p.m.