Even though practice has just begun, Commerce head wrestling coach Kendall Love already has some very high expectations of his squad for the 2012-2013 season.
After a fourth place finish at state last year, the bar has been set high for the Tigers and Love aims to keep it that way.
“I’m hoping to improve on the fourth-place finish that we had last year,” said Love, referring to the Class A state meet. “I think that if we can stay healthy and keep working hard, we will have a great season.”
While Love says practice has been going well thus far, he is ready to get members of his squad that have been playing football back on the mat.
“Our football players aren’t out here yet, so we are kind of limited on numbers, but the guys that are out here are working hard,” said Love. “I’m anxious now that football is over to get those guys out here and see what we can do with a full group.”
The Tigers only graduated two seniors last year, therefore, Love feels that his squad has “a great core of guys back.”
Love pointed specifically to two-time state champion Chance McClure. Love hopes that McClure, as a veteran, will provide leadership for some of the younger and less experienced wrestlers.
Love also looks for junior Morgan Flint and sophomore Trent Reddish to have strong performances this season.
“We’ve got three or four state placers that are out here right now, and they are showing good leadership for some of the younger guys – showing them how to drill and how to do things right,” said Love. “We had several guys that were hurt last year that probably could have started for us and maybe even placed at state. They are back, and we are looking to keep them healthy this year.”
While Love is optimistic, he acknowledged that the road to state will not be easy. Holy Innocence, which finished second at state last year, has moved into Commerce’s area.
Love predicts that it will be an all out battle for the state title between Commerce, Gordon Lee, Holy Innocence and Athens Christian.
The Tigers will compete in their first meet on Friday (5 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m.) at the Panther Invitational hosted by Jackson County Comprehensive High School.