By Chris Chaney
The Batavia Bulldogs wrestling team is early into their 2012-13 campaign, but already there are murmurs from around the area that a trio of Batavia seniors could find themselves wrestling for immortality at the state tournament in Columbus come season’s end.
“We haven’t had too many matches yet in the beginning of the season,” head coach Larry Smith said. “The bulk of our matches will pick up after Jan. 5, but we have had two tri-matches at this point in the season. We split both of those, making us 2-2.”
The Bulldogs opened their regular season at Reading High School on Dec. 6 in a Super Tri-Match during which they wrestled Southern Buckeye Conference rival Goshen as well as Indian Hill.
For the first match of the year, the Bulldogs’ grapplers faced a familiar opponent in the Warriors, but came up a little short, falling to Goshen by a score of 46-30.
The Bulldogs won six matches, but being a few weight classes short and having to forfeit three matches ultimately did the Bulldogs in.
During that same tri-match, the Bulldogs were able to reverse their fortune, handling Indian Hill 48-18 en route to a tri-match split.
Batavia won nine of those matches, taking advantage of four forfeits by the Braves. The five matches that the Bulldogs won all were won by pin, four of which came in the first period of the three period match.
In the Bulldogs’ other tri-match against Clermont Northeastern and Little Miami on Dec. 12, the Bulldogs again split, defeating Little Miami, but losing the CNE by three points.
With such a small sample size, it’s tough to get a read on how the Bulldogs’ year will turn out. However, Coach Smith has a trio of seniors that he is expecting to turn some heads and maybe even make a run at a state title.
“I am expecting, and I think everyone is expecting, Gabe Archer at 182 or 195 to have a big year as a returning state qualifier,” Smith said. “I believe we all are expecting him to make it to Columbus at the end of the year.
“Josh McClosky will be a 113 or a 120. He is a senior also and could be a big surprise. I think he has what it takes to make it to Columbus. It just depends on how the season goes for him as to whether he can achieve that goal.
“I would also expect big things this year out of Eric Shinkle at 120 or 126 this year, also as a senior. This will be his first full year as a varsity wrestler and hopefully the experience that he has picked up in the past will pay off this year.”
The team, aside from the individual goals of the three seniors and their supporting cast, expects to compete for a league title despite lacking some experience.
“We have a lot of upperclassmen wrestling, but they don’t have a lot of varsity experience due to the fact that we lost five seniors last year,” Smith said. “I do expect to do pretty decent in the league although we will be short by three or four weight classes. Hopefully, we can give Blanchester a run in the SBC-National Division.”
The Bulldogs are in action a few times before the end of the year beginning with Thursday, Dec. 20 against Williamsburg and then at Blanchester the following two days, on Dec. 21 and 22.