EAST LIVERPOOL - The Potters want to be represented in Columbus.
The East Liverpool wrestling team began the season on a positive note this past Saturday by winning two out of three matches at Dover. The Potters will look to continue their winning ways this weekend as East Liverpool hosts the King of the Hill Potter Classic.
The Potters entered this season coming off of a solid season last year.
East Liverpool lost six seniors from last year's squad. They are Kaleb Riggle (126 pounds), Justin Bittinger (138), Mike Williams (160), Malcom Wade (215) and George Thompson (285). Riggle finished the season with a record of 28-10, and he placed sixth at the annual OVAC Tournament. Wade ended up eighth at the conference tournament. Thompson finished the season 32-9, and he placed sixth at the OVAC Tournament.
"I thought we did better than expected last season," East Liverpool head coach Chad Hager said. "We placed in the top 10 of the OVAC tournament. A lot of wrestlers stepped up for us including George Thompson and Malcolm Wade. There is always room for improvement though and I think that is one area that will be improved upon this year."
The Potters finished ninth at the conference tournament. At one point, the Potters were in sixth place.
The Potters return a good nucleus of talent this season.
Sophomore Alex Potts (106) had a strong season as a freshman. So far during his career he has finished eighth at the OVAC Tournament, first at Dover, fourth at the Potter Classic and he finished second in tournaments at Brooke and at St. Clairsville.
Classmate Cody Oiler (120) also has gotten off to good start to his career. Oiler placed eighth at the conference tournament, second at Dover and the Potter Classic and he was third at Brooke and at St. Clairsville. Oiler was also a district qualifier.
Senior Frankie Williams (132) is looking to end his career on a high note. Williams finished eighth at the OVAC Tournament last year, he placed second at Dover as well as at the Potter Classic and at St. Clairsville, he has won the Brooke Classic and he is also a district qualifier.
Junior Kris Bailey (145) is looking to establish himself this year as a strong wrestler. Bailey wrestled his first varsity match last year.
Senior Mack Miller (152) had a solid junior year. Miller recorded 15 wins, including eight pins.
Junior Chad Reed (160) looks to bounce back this season. He was injured last year.
Big things are expected from junior John Miscuk (195/220). Miscuk finished fourth at the OVAC Tournament last year, he was first at Dover and he ended up in second place at Brooke and at St. Clairsville.
Junior Jimmy Lisk (182) aslo returns for the Potters. Lisk won five matches last season.
Joel Cunningahm will wrestle at 113, while Marcus Beebout will wrestle at 138.
"Everyone that is a returning letterman should help provide strength to our team," Hager said. "If the season goes as it should, we have the possibility to send 3-4 to state this season."
East Liverpool has talented group of newcomers in Tim Sarge (106), Julius Davis (126), Tyler Croskey (160/170), Edward Pine (170), Austin Loy (138/145), Jimmy Beaver (195), Nick Cotter (220/285), Andrew Talbert (285), Cole Hamilton (285) and Dustin Shramko (145).
Beaver and Hamilton return to the program. The pair wrestled two years ago before not competing last season.
The Potters have set some pretty high goals for the season.
"We want to have a high placement at the OVAC Tournament, and we want to make a trip to Columbus with some state placers," Hager said.
The Potter Classic is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. today. Wrestling will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and the tournament finals are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Teams from Ohio, west Virginia and Pennsylvania will be competing at the tournament.
"We will get to see a lot of teams within the valley but I would like to get a better look at schools from outside the valley," Hager said. "We will get to see some Pennsylvania and West Virginia teams coming in at our Potter Classic. It would be nice to get into some tournaments with some of the teams that we will meet at the district tournament. I'm still working to make that happen."