The Joseph Eagles have the largest local contingency of wrestlers out this season with 15.
All have had experience except one senior that has never wrestled before.
" I'm pretty excited about our outlook this year," said Joseph Wrestling Coach Dave Yost. "We have depth at the middle weights and kids are working hard so we should be better than last year as a team," he added.
The JHS wrestling team members are Kyle Schoeningh 103, Kyle Clough 112, Thane Shetler 119, Pat Lynn 130, Dylan Lewis 130, Lance Strickland 135, Chris Garrett 140, Ryan Barstad 145, Aaron White 145, William Eaves 145, Mike Gamboa 152, , Christain Ambroson 171, Jason Harding 171, Clayton Lowe 189 and Jesse Sanchez at 215.
"We don't have all of the weight classes covered, but we will come pretty close," Yost said.
The Eagles have three seniors with experience in Barstad , Garrett and Lynn. Barstad and Lynn qualified for state one year ago.
"All the boys are coming out with a lot more intensity this year in preparation for the season," he said.
The Eagles will spend the next three weeks wrestling locally. They will have their first showing at the Enterprise Kickoff Tournament on Friday before traveling to La Grande to compete at the Muilenburg Tournament on December 13 and 14. The Eagles return the following weekend to compete in the N.E. Oregon Classic at Enterprise.
"I'm excited to get into competition to see how we size up," Yost said. "When a kid steps out on the mat he is in the spotlight and everybody knows how that individual performed. That is what makes wrestling a neat sport," he added.
A decreasing enrollment and competition for athletes between wrestling and basketball has taken its toll on the Enterprise High School wrestling program this season. "The sheer number of students is going down school wide. It's not just sports. The wrestling program is competing with basketball for the same bodies. It's a real drawback to the sports program's that we have to compete," said Enterprise Wrestling Coach Troy Farwell.
Farwell added that their numbers are kind of depressing, but, as far as talent goes, he likes what he has. "We have a great team and we'll take more than 50 percent to state," he said.
The Red and Black have three returning state placers from last season including second place finishers Jake McCleary 119 and Jimmie Van Belle 189. Austn Himes placed third at state and returns at the 130 pound slot.
The remaining EHS wrestling team members are Justin Moncrief 103, Andy Wallace 112, , Collin Cunningham 140, Jason Douglas 152, Justin Wilkes 215 and Joe Singlar at 275 pounds.
"We're still missing four or five weight classes, but I hope to get more kids out," he said "Only time will tell," he added.
Enterprise should place in the middle of the pack in league duals. "When you give up five or six weight classes before the match you can only lose two or three and still have a shot at winning," Farwell said. "As far as placing in tournaments we should do well. We have a lot of experience and some talented kids in the nine weight classes we can fill, so we'll place in every tournament that we go to,"Farwell said.
The EHS coaching staff was cut to one paid coaching position this season but Farwell said that he has a half dozen helpers that are coming in and volunteering their time.
"Sean and Gabe Wishart, Gary Mabin, Matt McDowell and Ron Osterloh have been a big help, plus I've had others that have called in and want to help," Farwell said. "It could turn out to be a one-to-one ratio of coaches to kids," he said.
If budgets start getting tighter the wrestling team has great backing from the Enterprise wrestling boosters Club. "We have a great boosters club that supports us very well, so they may have to start helping us out some more, " Farwell said.
The boosters club is going to foot the bill for motel rooms in La Grande next weekend at the Muilenburg Tournament.
The Cougars look to have a building year with three out of the seven wrestlers with experience from last season. Taron Taylor 135, Brandon Frye 162 and Patrick Silveria 171 head up the veteran matmen for the Cougars with Sam Both at 158 coming to the mat with some limited mat knowledge. Tanner Shelton 125, Cody Richert 135 and Dustin Shaffer 140 round out the Cougar squad.
Wallowa Wrestling Coach Jason Crenshaw said that he hopes to pickup three or four more kids after grades come out. "You have to hit the books to succeed on the mat so it's a motivation for them hopefully," he said.
"I look for a couple of the guys to go to state but it will be interesting with Grant Union moving into the league," Crenshaw said. "We wrestled them last year and we didn't have a problem but we will see," he added.
According to Crenshaw this could be one of the better years that the Cougars have had since he started coaching wrestling at Wallowa three years ago. "It's always hard to tell how good the kids are until I see them in a match," Crenshaw said. "Until then, they are all state champions," he added.