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Columbus/Winfield-Mount Union's Jarod Kadel faces opponent Williamsburg's Grayson Kesterson during last year's 106-pound state final in Class 2A. Kadel returns to the Wildcats this winter.

Andy Abeyta

The Columbus Community wrestling team will only feature one senior in J.P. Cunningham, but it’s likely the Wildcats will look to junior Jarod Kadel for leadership in the 2017-18 season.

As a sophomore, Kadel was the state runner-up and finished the season with a 42-7 record. There’s no question in head coach Bill Plein’s mind that Kadel is capable of more, but that’s not what he’s focused on at the moment.

“He understands it's a process and there’s some really good kids we’re going to be facing in December,” Plein said. “His focus is on winning those matches and moving on from there.”

However, Plein is still unsure what weight class Kadel will wrestle at, as the junior wrestled 106 last season but will have a chance to move up to 113.

Outside of Cunningham, Kadel and juniors Chase Wheeler, Jose Cerezo and Juanito Piper, the Wildcats will boast a talented but extremely young lineup that could feature up to nine or 10 freshmen and sophomores.

Plein understands it might be a process at times this year with such a young team, but he’s also encouraged with the early progress and hopes to see his team grow together as the season progresses.

“I think we’re going to be competitive in most of our weight classes,” Plein said. “We’ll be pretty young, but the kids are really working hard and picking things up. We’re happy with their effort at this point.”

Arrows expecting transition season: Wapello wrestling coach Rocky Hamilton expects the upcoming season to be a bit of a transition season, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t potential on the Indians’ roster.

Although they lost state runner-up Devon Meeker and all-area performer Rogan Pforts, the return of sophomore Dan Meeker is enough reason for optimism, as Hamilton believes Meeker has the potential to win Wapello’s first state title since 1997.

“He is one of those kids that at any given time he could win a state title,” Hamilton said. “He got sixth last year but lost two tough overtime matches, so he could have easily been top three. That’s the kid everybody looks to for leadership.”

Meeker wrestled at the 106-pound weight class last season, but he will make the jump to the 120-pound weight class after a growth spurt in the offseason.

“He’s a tough kid, he really is,” Hamilton said. “You wish you had 14 of them for every weight.”

Hamilton sees more talent on his roster that includes Colton Meeker, Devon’s cousin, who will wrestle in the 106-pound weight class. Mitchell Moore wrestled plenty of varsity last season and will be a factor in his sophomore season, and Hamilton hopes more young wrestlers are ready to step up after losing five seniors from last season.

High hopes for youthful Falcons: The Louisa-Muscatine wrestling team was full of youth last season, and this year won’t be much different.

The Falcons return senior Hunter Connor, who compiled a 37-12 record as a junior and qualified for state but lost their top wrestler in Austin Leopard, who placed fourth at state with a 44-4 record.

However, they lost only three seniors and while they’re still young, the Falcons boast a strong core of sophomores and juniors.

“This year they look like men,” Louisa-Muscatine coach Tom Mashek said. “Well, as much as a sophomore can look like a man, I guess.”

Chase Kruse, Max Mashek, Max McCulley and Sammy Cassel all are sophomores who played a significant role in Louisa-Muscatine’s 18-2 record last season.

“They did pretty darn good as freshmen,” Mashek said. “Everybody is a year older. We lost some good kids, but it’s looking good for us right now.”

The lineup isn’t finalized, but Mashek anticipates the Falcons will be strong through the middle and upper weights led by Connor, who will wrestle in the 182-pound weight class.

“I’ve seen a difference in Hunter this year,” Mashek said. “He knows it’s time, and maybe he’s more serious this year. He’s definitely our guy and people want to follow him. He’s doing a good job.”

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Sports Reporter