Lincolnview wrestling/Visual Image Photography
By NICK JOHNSON
Times Bulletin Correspondent
MIDDLE POINT - The Lincolnview Lancer wrestling program comes into the season with 11 wrestlers, and four of them have varsity wrestling experience.
One of their four returning wrestlers made it to districts last year.
The Lancers had a disappointing season last year, however, as they finished last at the Northwest Conference tournament, scoring only 42 points. Lincolnview did a little bit better at sectionals, finishing 11th out of 12, but managed to score only 35 points.
The Lancers had some bright spots, as Jaqoube Markward qualified for districts and took second at sectionals in the 106-pound weight class. Two other Lancer wrestlers placed, as Alex Rodriguez got sixth place in the 113-pound weight class, and Doug Hicks got fifth place in the 170-pound weight class.
The Lancers look to their best wrestler for leadership in 2012-13. "I have four returning varsity letterman. My senior this year, Jaqoube Markward, is coming back into our lineup in the lower weight, either 106 or 113, and he almost made to the district finals last year. So, we are expecting a lot out of him this year. I am expecting a lot out of my four returning lettermen this year.
"A 170-pound wrestler, Doug Hicks, did very well last year, and he just did pull through at the end of the year, but he has been training hard all summer. Our 132-pounder Josh McKinsey has been training hard all summer, and last year his weight class was stacked with all the big boys. So this year, we are hoping he can make more of a name for himself. Also down in the 106 or 113-pound weight class we have Alex Rodriguez. He should be able to turn some heads this year," said Lincolnview wrestling coach Curtis Miller.
The Lancers remaining seven wrestlers are either freshmen or newcomers to the wrestling scene. This gives Lincolnview 11 in total - three short of covering the 14 weight classes.
Lincolnview looks for a better showing this year in the Northwest Conference. "As far as the four returning letterman, I feel they will be going toe-to-toe with some good wrestlers, but I expect these four guys to be able to place in the NWC. Last year only three of the four were able to place, but this year, as I said, I expect big things from them - I expect them all to place this year," added Miller.
The Lancer wrestling team has some big experience in a couple of the weight classes. "I am very strong in the light-weight classes this year. I'm missing some weight class in the middle, then I have some heavy hitters up at the top. My biggest struggle this year is the fact that we are missing so many weight classes in the middle for our team. With wrestling, I'm a firm believer in as far as if we do match up in a dual meet tournament, our kids will shift around a little bit. But with only having 11 wrestlers, at least one team is going to have to sit out because I don't have the number to try and worry about filling out a line up and worry about team points and team score. We really focus on individuals wrestlers. My biggest challenge for me and my coaching staff is to put enough on these kids plates to get them as far as we possibly can this year," added Miller.
Lincolnview will suffer from not being able to send out a full team. "Because we don't have a full team we are trying more to focus on the individual. Wrestling can be a team sport but at the end there is only one wrestler to win state for a given weight class. Our hope is to get each of our wrestlers as far down the road as possible," said Miller.
Coaching wrestling is much different than coaching other team sports. "Our firm belief in wrestling is the basis that we want a firm foundation, and once the foundation is set, we may build. With such a diverse group of wrestlers it's a challenge but me and my coaching staff have to stay focus on each wrestler one at a time to get them to where they need to be," noted Miller.
The Lancers first match this year will be the Lancer Invitational on December 8, which features a lot of local school from the Van Wert county area.