There’s a lot of excitement stirring around the Barren County High School wrestling program this season. After a successful 2012-13 season that saw the Trojans send wrestlers to the state meet, coach Luke Pniewski has a group of athletes returning this year he says is ready to compete for another chance in the state championship.
Pniewski will find out just how ready his wrestlers are this season when the Trojans open the year Saturday at the Red Devil Duals at Owensboro High School.
“I’m exited about the potential we have this season. We have a schedule that’ll put us at home more than we’ve ever been, and I believe we can definitely make it back to the state duals,” said Pniewski.
“We still have a gap or two in the lineup that we need to figure out, but at this point, I know where most of the guys are going to be and I think we can compete at most weight classes.”
The Trojans will be without the services of four wrestlers because of graduation; however, Pniewski believes he has more experience on the team this year than he’s ever had.
Highlighting this year’s team is a group of wrestlers with varsity match experience.
“Zack Kelley and Cory Faller are our only two seniors this season,” said Pniewski.
“Zack is in his fourth year of wrestling. He had a pretty impressive record last year, and we’ll see if he can repeat that. I expect him to make some noise at the regional tournament this year.
“Cory Faller was an alternate at the state meet at 126 pounds. I think he’s looking to get back to the state at the same weight class this year. If he shows as much improvement this year as he did last year, he’ll be one of the top three wrestlers in our region.”
Jonathon Franco, a junior, will be trying to improve on last year’s effort.
Franco was an alternate at last year’s state meet and Pniewski said he might be the biggest surprise on the squad this year.
Pniewski said Franco’s work on his technique over the summer is getting him where he needs to be to compete for a spot at state.
“I have more middle schoolers this year than I’ve ever had, and I’m looking for them to fill in some spots at the lighter weights,” said Pniewski.
“Most teams around the state have younger kids at 106 pounds and at 113, and I’ll do the same. John Strode and Gavin Maynard are new to the room this year, but so far they are improving every day. They practice with each other, and I can tell there is a lot of parity between them.
“John will get the best of Gavin consistently one day, but then, Gavin will return the favor the next time they practice. It’s good to see the parity like that because it tells me that we are improving at those weights.”
The Trojans will open the home part of their schedule on Tuesday when they host Daviess County and Meade County in the high school gym.
“From the 120-pound class to the 182-pound class, we are pretty tough. We might not be the best in the state, but we have enough experience in the middle weights that I feel we can compete everywhere that we do go (this season),” said Pniewski.
“I’ve got a room full of hungry kids that are tired of practicing against each other and they can’t wait to get out there and wrestle somebody else. It’ll be a welcome change when we see somebody new. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”