East Butler wrestling is getting in full swing, and with a week of practice under its belt, the Tigers are starting to figure out what they have.
East Butler lost a lot of experience from last year and will have to build up some of the young talents on the team.
Building upon what the team has done previously, and past experiences of the younger wrestlers, seemed to be a theme for head coach Doug Glasshoff as he conducted practice last week.
"We have a young team. We lost some seniors from last year with a lot of experience. So we're just going to build on our traditions. We have a couple seniors coming back that have been to state before, so we're going to build on that, and just get the young guys going," Glasshoff said. We have five freshmen out. We're going to build on that experience as they have a lot of experience coming up as little kids. So they're not totally green to it. We'll build on that. I think we'll have a good year."
East Butler had four wrestlers qualify for state and three state medalists though all three of the state medalist were seniors.
The lone returning state qualifier from last season is Colten Ratkovec who wrestled in the 160-pound weight class.
He went 2-2 in the state tournament pinning Josh Cox of Mullen in 1:42 in the opening round before losing to Jayden Schroder of Twin River 7-2. Ratkovec then rebounded in the consolation defeating Derek Gibson of Sutherland 8-3. Ratkovec's state tournament came to an end in the next match when he was pinned by Karsen Hunter of Bayard in 21 seconds.
Glasshoff said he expects big things out of Ratkovec this season.
"Colten Ratkovec was a state qualifier the last couple years, and I think he'll be a kid that can do some damage down at state if he pushes hard and makes himself better," Glasshoff said. "He's wrestled a long time and he can do it."
And Ratkovec isn't the only Tiger looking for more. Senior Breckin Ratkovec, cousin of Colten Ratkovec, qualified for state as a freshman and sophomore in the 106-pound weight class, and junior Wade Wright was a state qualifier as a freshman at 113-pounds.
Glasshoff said he expects all three former state qualifiers to be in the mix in Omaha.
"I think they'll be contending for state medals," he said. "That's something we expect of them, that's something they expect of themselves is to be able to go down to state and medal this year, and I think they can do that."
As a team, the Tigers expect to fill around nine or 10 of the 14 weight classes, which should put them in position to compete in the team standings of tournaments at the Class D level.
Glasshoff believes the group will be competitive in the standings during some of the tournaments depending on how many teams are in the field.
The first competition for East Butler will be at 6 p.m. on Nov. 29 when the Tigers host a triangular featuring Raymond Central and North Bend Central.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net