West Liberty's Bryce Esmoil looks to the clock while lifting Woodward-Granger's Cody Fisher during the 195-pound 2A final bout of the 2017 IHSAA State Wrestling Championships. Esmoil won his bout to become the 2017 2A 195-pound state champion.

Andy Abeyta, Quad-City Times

Teams to watch

Central DeWitt: Graduation losses and a transfer impacted the Sabers, but Nick Smith is back. He was 40-9 last year and placed seventh at the Class 2A state tournament at 220. Smith is ranked fifth to start this season at 195. Freshman Keaton Zeimet is a wrestler to keep an eye on. He starts the year ranked ninth at 106.

West Liberty: The Comets return a state champion in Northern Iowa signee Bryce Esmoil (195) along with a pair of third-place state finishers in Will Esmoil (106 last year) and Joe Kelly (152). West Liberty, with aspirations of reaching the state duals this season, also has four other district qualifiers back in Justis Dengler, Talon Dengler, Austin Beaver and Coy Ruess.

Wilton: Coach Gabe Boorn's squad has two state qualifiers returning in Trey Brisker and Cory Anderson. Brisker, with a second and two third-place state finishes, begins his senior year with 132 career wins. Anderson was 36-14 last year. The Beavers have five other 20-plus match winners back in Jerome Mays (145), Eli Faison (160), John Rife (182), Cameron Reddick (195) and Calib Lilly (220). 

Individuals to watch

Jarod Kadel, jr., Columbus Community, 106 pounds: After wrestling junior varsity as a freshman, Kadel was state runner-up last year in 2A at 106. He begins this winter ranked No. 1 at that weight.

Daniel Meeker, so., Wapello, 120: Ranked third to start the year by The Predicament, Meeker won 40 matches and finished sixth at 106 last year as a freshman.

Ben Emerich, sr., Tipton, 126: Pieced together a solid junior season. He won the River Valley Conference title at 120, compiled 40 wins and was a 1A state qualifier.

Baylor Crigger, jr., Camanche, 152: RVC champion was 38-3 last season but couldn't compete in the postseason after an appendectomy. He begins the year ranked fifth at 152 pounds in 2A.

Key dates

Jan. 4 — Assumption at North Scott

Jan. 12-13 — Midwest Shootout at Bettendorf

Jan. 20 — Bob Lueders Invitational at Clinton

Jan. 27 — MAC tournament at Davenport West; River Valley at Mid-Prairie; Wamac at Maquoketa

Feb. 3 — Class 1A/2A sectional meet

Feb. 10 — Class 1A/2A/3A district meet

Feb. 15-17 — State tournament

— Matt Coss


Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.