Numbers are not an issue for the Louisa Lions’ wrestling team this season. The team boasts 33 members, nearly double the figure from last season.
On the roster are several returning wrestlers, including a pair of state qualifiers. Sophomore Owen Greslick placed fourth in the state tournament in the 106 pound division and senior Zion Villines finished fifth in the 120 pound division. The pair are changing weight classes this season, with Greslick moving to the 120 pound division and Villines moving up to 126.
Junior Anthony Ciotola and sophomores Rylan Seay, Christopher Cranor and Nick Torbush are also back in the starting lineup for the Lions. Ciotola is wrestling at 138 pounds, Torbush starts at 145 pounds, Cranor at 113 pounds and Seay is competing in the 160 pound division.
The Lions have a fair number of new faces, including senior Austin Sims (220 pounds), junior Jack Collins (170 pounds), sophomores Connor Childress (195 pounds) and Josiah Olson (106 pounds) and freshmen Austin Talley (152 pounds), Quinton Marsh (182 pounds) and LaRon Jackson (285 pounds).
The team boasts a large number of young wrestlers, including 16 freshmen and 11 sophomores, which head coach Charlie Elkins thinks bodes well, not just for this season but the future of the program.
“This is a very young team,” he said. “We’re going to be better next year and the year after that.”
Both the new and returning wrestlers are gelling nicely as a team, Greslick noted.
“A lot of the older guys are really helping out the newer guys with the technique and all that, working to get ready [for the season],” he said.
Elkins has set the goals high for the season, hoping to score at least one state champion wrestler this year and to take as many wrestlers to the tournament as he can.
“My goal is to bring home the hardware,” he said. “That’s my mission.”
The Lions got their first piece of hardware over the weekend, bringing home a third place trophy from the Battle Hills Duals tournament at John S. Battle High School in Bristol. Louisa faced off against five different schools, emerging with a 4-1 record.
The Lions shut out John I. Burton’s team 84-0 and scored equally decisive victories over Daniel Boone and Northwood high schools with scores of 69-12 and 72-11, respectively. The Lions’ final win came in a 50-30 match against Richlands High School. One point proved to be the difference between a tournament sweep and a single loss, with Lebanon eking out a 38-39 win over the Lions.
Nearly all of the Lions earned individual winning records at the tournament, with several earning shutouts thoughout the day. Freshman Gianpaolo Ciotola went 5-0 with three pins. Villines also was 5-0 for the day with a pair of pins, and Torbush and freshman Jacob Fifer (182 pounds) were both 4-0, each scoring one pin.
Anthony Ciotola was 4-1 with two pins, as was Olson. Childress also ended the day with a 4-1 record, including one pin.
Elkins said the third place finish and the individual records have gotten the team prepared for the season ahead.
“I think it shows our student athletes [that] they’ve been working hard and how they need to work harder,” he said.
Elkins was also impressed with the number of parents who made the nearly 300-mile trek to support the team.
“It was rewarding to see so many parents in the stands,” he said. “We had more fans in the stands than some of the local schools.”
The Lions will be at home for their next competition, hosting the David Wells Memorial Tournament on Dec. 14. Events begin at 8 a.m.