After stepping down as head coach of the Bucyrus wrestling team after the 2011 season, Matt Makeever made his return to the mats.
"I always planned on eventually getting back into coaching, so it just worked out," Makeever said. "A lot of these kids I've already coached, so there is some familiarity there, and there are a lot of kids I'm still learning about."
Last week Bucyrus put up a solid showing at the 12-team Madison Coke Classic, with five wrestlers placing in the top six of their respective weight classes. Junior Nate Johns (220) won the Classic with a 3-2 decision over Akron Kenmore's Shawn Borkowski. Heavyweight senior Gage Beltz finished fifth, sophomore Ryan Hillman (120) placed fifth, junior Oliver Faulkner (138) was sixth along with sophomore Neeley Chancler (182).
Other returning letterwinners from last season include sophomore Justese Parsell (138), sophomore Justin Campbell (170), sophomore Skylar Mease (170) and sophomore Levi Spence (182).
The Redmen lost district qualifiers Randall Allen, 138 pounds, and Jacob Morgan, 120 pounds, to graduation.
"A lot of our kids are really working to get to the district level," Makeever said.
On, Saturday afternoon Bucyrus hosts the annual 10-team Bucyrus Invitational.
Numbers are up for the Buckeye Central wrestling program this season. By the end of last winter the Bucks were down to five wrestlers, all letterwinners, which return this year to lead a group of 16.
"We were at Gibsonburg (last) and did well there," Buckeye Central coach Chris Smith said. "I think we are going to have a pretty good season. I've finally got some depth to the team."
Senior Michael Adkins (170) returns as the team's lone district qualifier. Other returning lettermen include seniors Ryan Wilfer (220), Shawn Kissell (285), junior Clay McCarthy (160), and sophomore Marcus Miller (170).
"The weights that we are counting on are Shawn Kissell at 285, Ryan Wilfer at 220 and we are counting on a big year from Michael Adkins at 170," Smith said.
Many of the additions to this year's team are either freshman or newcomers to the sport of wrestling.
"We are still young, but we have a lot of individuals as far as goals go that should do well," Smith said.
Junior state qualifier Zach Tupps (113-120) is back as one of 11 returning lettermen from last year's NCC runner-up Galion squad. Tupps finished 38-8 last season.
Also bringing back winning records are sophomore Deaken McCoy (220, 25-12), juniors Justin Kleinknecht (126, 23-19) and Nick Flowers (145, 22-16) and senior Brent Esposito (170, 31-14).
"This is actually the first time as a head coach that everyone on the team has a good set of skills and we can basically start where we left off last year," Tigers coach Brent Tyrell said.
"I think this could be a great year for our program as long as we stay healthy and put in the work."