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The LaRue County High School Mat Hawks begin their season Dec. 4 as they face Nelson County and Thomas Nelson wrestlers at Nelson County High School.
The Mat Hawks, led by new coach Eric Burrell, return three seniors and seven juniors. Seven sophomores, seven freshmen and four eighth-graders round out the team.
After watching the Mat Hawks scrimmage with Central Hardin and Taylor County teams, Burrell said he was “very optimistic about the season and the future.”
“They looked good,” he said. “A lot of good, hard-nosed wrestling that we like to see.”
Burrell said he felt better about the team, which has several inexperienced wrestlers, after watching their practice with Taylor County.
“We are looking better every week,” he said.
His starting lineup may change during the season but he offered an idea of what early matches could look like.
Freshman Stiles Metcalfe and eighth-grader Dalton Bell will be sharing time at the 106-pound spot.
Bell and freshman Levi Goodman will share time at the 113-pound class.
Freshman Dawson Bingham and senior Kyle Edlin will start at either the 120- or 126-pound class.
Senior Brent Dunn could start at 132- or 138-pounds. By the end of the season, eighth-grader Dalton Bell is expected to see time at one of those classes.
Senior Raymundo Perez, who brought home a third-place medal from the 2013 State Tournament, will wrestle at 138- or 145-pounds.
Freshman Justice Harrison and sophomore Michael Hill also will be vying for the 145-pound slot.
Eighth-grader Griffin Dulak will wrestle at 152.
The 160- and 170-pound classes will belong to the wrestlers who want them the most. Junior Caleb Kirkpatrick, freshman Matthew Steven and sophomore Alex Brooks are among the contenders.
Ed Hernandez is expected to start at 182 pounds.
The 195-pound class is open.
At 220, sophomores Clayton Engle, Zack Hornung and Austin Hite are vying for the spot.
Junior Charlie Roarx is the starting heavyweight (285-pound class).
The Mat Hawks are in reconfigured Region 2 which includes Apollo, Barren, Central Hardin, Daviess County, Fort Knox, John Hardin, Meade County, Nelson County, North Hardin, Owensboro, Taylor County and Thomas Nelson.
Burrell, a 2004 LCHS graduate and three-time regional wrestling champ, is assisted by Elijah Zwiep, Jack LaRue and Brad Walters.
Long-time coach Gary Canter, who retired at the end of the 2012-13 season, observed Tuesday’s practice.
Wednesday’s meet begins at 6 p.m.
Nelson County High School is located at 1070 Bloomfield Road.
The team wrestles at home on Jan. 18.