A baker's dozen of returning letterwinners, a delegation that includes two state entrants, hope to thrust the Brainerd Warriors into contention for Central Lakes Conference and Section 8-3A team titles this season.
Co-head coach Mike Boran believes the Warriors will be extremely competitive at the lower weights, where Boran says Brainerd has "a ton of depth," but they will need to develop depth at the upper weights.
Co-head coaches: Mike Boran, 18th season, Jim Kath, 10th season
2014-15 record: 5-3 CLC, 11-11 overall
Captains: Drew Breun, Drew Robinson, CJ Wohl, Andy Schlosser
Assistant coaches: Mikky White, Marty Wagner
"We have some very good wrestlers," Boran said. "We're also kind of bunched up at some weight classes. You can only fill so many weight classes so we will have to move people around. We'll see how that plays out.
"We will be competitive, especially down low. We'll fill in and see how the season goes at the top. We have some kids coming back. We're looking for them to work hard and take the next step to the next level."
Junior Andy Schlosser has taken his wrestling to a high level. He was the Section 8-3A champion at 120 pounds and went on to finish third in the 3A state tournament. Schlosser compiled a 42-3 record and won four invitational titles.
"He spent a lot of time working to get better," Boran said. "He's grown, he's gotten stronger. He will be up a couple weight classes, but he will be able to compete there. He's coming out of a great finish to the season last year. Hopefully he will continue that."
As an eighth-grader, Braden Kramer was the section runner-up at 106. He lost his only match at the state tournament to finish the season 24-8. He's a defending champion at the Blue Earth Invite.
"He's a very dedicated wrestler," Boran said. "He spent a lot of time getting better in the offseason as well as being a 3-sport athlete. He's got competitiveness. He wants to compete, and he works at it. He's a good wrestler. Like kids do, he's grown. He will be moving up a couple weight classes, but will be a strong competitor for us."
Junior Cole Kubesh is looking to take a step up. He has finished third in the section three straight years - last year at 113 - and finished 30-7. Kubesh won three invitationals last season.
"He's right there," Boran said. "He's a very dedicated wrestler, hard-working. He's going to be one of our go-to guys as well."
Seniors Drew Robinson, Drew Breun and CJ Wohl are back for the Warriors, who open Saturday at the Mound Westonka Invitational. Robinson was 18-12, Breun 24-17 and Wohl 14-14. All three are captains along with Schlosser.
Additional letterwinners are Morgan Gibson, Max Boran, Colton Hardy, Eli Horn, Chad Orsburn, Tate Arntson, Brendan Barna, Dylan Crandall and Logan Theodore.
"We've got a really nice group of kids," Warriors co-head coach Jim Kath said. "We've got a bunch coming back with experience. I think it will be a fun season to coach them. We've got a number of kids again that are at similar weight classes so figuring out how we're going to disperse them across our lineup will be a little bit challenging. But I would rather have that problem than not have enough kids to fill some spots.
"We've got some bigger kids in our room right now that are pretty new to wrestling - like (sophomores) Isaac Hines and Landon Lundeby. And we've got some other kids who've had some varsity experience. By being able to get those kids some experience wrestling with us this year we're hoping later in the season they're going to be able to fill in some of those upper weight classes.
"We've got kids like Logan Theodore that wrestled for us last year at a lot of our upper weights and did a great job. He's back and he's been helpful working with some of those bigger kids in the room."
Seniors: CJ Wohl (160), Drew Robinson (132), Drew Breun (126), Brendan Barna (138-145), Dylan Crandall (220), Zach Stangl (195)
Juniors: Tate Arntson (160), Jacob Berg (138), Cole Kubesh (113-119), Andy Schlosser (138-145), Zach Valtakis (152)
Sophomores: Max Boran (132-138), Ben Elias (145), Colton Hardy (160), Isaac Hines (285), Eli Horn (152-160), Tucker Jensen (138-145), Landon Lundeby (285), Chance Miller (152), Chad Orsburn (113), Logan Theodore (182-195), Tyler Wgeishofski (152-160)
Freshmen: Mark Boran (106-113), Denny Busbey (106), Jarrett Crandall (195), Fletcher DeRosier (195), Morgan Gibson (182), Braden Kramer (120-126), Jon Nelson (138), Brad Patnode (113), Kyle Patnode (106-113), Isaac Rhode (1113-120),
Eighth-grader: Tucker Peterson (106)
Nov 28, at Mound Westonka Invite 10 a.m.
Dec 3, at Sartell Triangular 5 p.m.
Dec 5, at Blue Earth Invitational 10 a.m.
Dec 11, Paul Bunyan Invitational 4:30 p.m.
Dec 12, Paul Bunyan Invitational 10:30 a.m.
Dec 15, at Aitkin 7:30 p.m.
Dec 17, Sauk Rapids-Rice 7:30 p.m.
Dec 18, at Royalton Triangular 5 p.m.
Jan 7, Fergus Falls 7:30 p.m.
Jan 8-9, at Bemidji State University Invitational 9:30 a.m.
Jan 14, at Moorhead Triangular 5 p.m.
Jan 16, at Elk River Invitational 9 a.m.
Jan 22, at Rocori 7:30 p.m.
Jan 29, Willmar & Little Falls at Brainerd Triangular 5 p.m.
Feb 4, Alexandria 7:30 p.m.