Brutal stretch of schedule to begin the season.
With a very young squad, the Rolla High School wrestling team may be using the first portion of the 2013-14 season as on-the-job training.
The Bulldogs could feature as many as seven freshman or sophomores in the varsity lineup when the season begins.
RHS is slated to begin a brutal early schedule on Dec. 3 at Washington.
"It's pretty much as expected," RHS wrestling head coach Mark Sells said of practice so far. "It's a pretty good group this year. We have over 35 on the roster this year.
"I'm not sure how we'll do at the beginning of the year. But by the end of the year I think we'll be there. We have a lot of freshmen who haven't seen what varsity is like. Once they get used to it they'll do fine."
Sells said most of the team's wrestle-offs for varsity positions will end this week, although a few matches could be held during the team's annual Maroon-White Night Tuesday (7 p.m. at the RHS gym).
"In a week or so we'll have more of our wrestle-offs done," Sells said. "We have several people competing at several weight classes. Some weight classes have four competing."
Sells said he isn't sure who will be at the 106-pound slot. "It depends on who makes weight," he said.
At 113 junior Joe Leach, who had a 19-18 varsity record last season returns. "He's lifted hard over the summer and looks good," Sells said.
Sophomore Carter Daniels, who won 35 varsity matches as a freshman and is the lone Bulldog Missouri Class 4 state qualifier returning, is currently at 120.
Also currently at 120 is standout freshman Tristan Barr.
Barr will be at either 120 or 126. His competition at 126 is sophomore Ryan Markovic, a transfer from Illinois.
Sophomore Tyler Lambeth is at 138.
Freshman Gage Maxwell, who placed at the state meet for the Rolla Kids Club, is at 145.
John Sprow, who wrestled at the varsity level as a freshman last season, is at 152 as a sophomore and is getting pushed by freshman Seth Veatch, who also placed at the youth state tourney last year.
Senior Marquis Reece, who has limited varsity experience, will be at either 160 or 170.
Junior Austyn Harmount figures to compete at either 170 or 182.
Sells isn't sure who will end up at 195.
Sophomore Jake Steiner, a varsity regular as a freshman last season, returns at 220.
Senior Brendan Wuest, who didn't wrestle last season, returns to the program at heavyweight.
"In the light to medium weights there is more competition for spots," Sells said. "But there is some talent in some of the upper (weight classes). I'm pleased with how they're working this year."
BULLDOG NOTES: It's an extremely tough opening week for RHS.
On Dec. 3 the Bulldogs open with a triangular meet in Washington against host Washington, which finished sixth in the Missouri Class 3 State Tournament last season, and Owensville, which finished tied for 23rd in the Class 2 State Meet a year ago.
Rolla then hosts Farmington in its home opener on Dec. 6. Farmington placed ninth in the Class 3 State Tournament last season.
And on Dec. 7 the Bulldogs compete against Kirksville, Warrensburg, Hannibal, St. Charles and host Jefferson City Helias in dual meets at the Helias Classic. Warrensburg was fourth in the Class 3 State Meet last season while Kirksville is a former state champion which finished fifth in Class 2 in 2013 and Hannibal was eighth in Class 3.
Sells' assistant coach is again Ed Sederburg. And serving as a volunteer assistant is Jason Elrod. Sederburg and Elrod were former standout Bulldog wrestlers.
"Coach Sederburg has been doing a good job working on technique," Sells said. "And Coach Elrod has been working with the kids on conditioning."
Dec. 3...at Washington, 5 p.m.
Dec. 6...Farmington, 5 p.m.
Dec. 7...Jeff. City Helias Classic, 9:30 a.m.
Dec. 11...at Springfield Kickapoo, 5 p.m.
Dec. 14...Rolla JV Invitational, 9 a.m.
Dec. 19...at Waynesville, 6 p.m.
Dec. 20-21...at Cape Central Classic
Dec. 27-28...Parkview Holiday Tourney
Jan. 8...at Jefferson City, 6 p.m.
Jan. 14...at Marshfield, 5 p.m.
Jan. 18...Republic Tourney
Jan. 21...Lebanon, 6 p.m.
Jan. 25...Lebanon JV Tourney
Jan. 30...at Springfield Hillcrest, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 31-Feb. 1...Francis Howell Tourney
Jan. 31...Owensville JV tourney
Feb. 4....at Camdenton, 6 p.m.
Feb. 8...Ozark Conference Tourney
Feb. 14-15...Class 3 District 3 Tourney at Branson
Feb. 20-22...Class 3 State Tourney at Columbia