Lake wrestling with inexperience this season

FELTON – Lake Forest has wrestled its way into the postseason two straight years.

But earning a Division II dual-meet tournament berth this season could prove to be a monumental task.

Luckily for the Spartans, head coach Mike Hansen is ready to help his team takedown the task.

Lake lost nine starters from last year's wrestling team. (The Journal/Jeff Mitchell)

Lake lost nine starters from last year’s wrestling team. (The Journal/Jeff Mitchell)

“Some years are easier than others,” said Hansen, who is entering his seventh season coaching at Lake Forest. “We graduated 13 seniors, eight or nine of them were starters. But, the juniors and sophomores we have coming back are good key guys.”

Where graduation has left the most glaring holes in the Spartans lineup begins at the 160-pound weight class and doesn’t end through 220. All of those classes were manned last season by Class of 2014 graduates, including individual state champion Brian Thomson and placer John Flamer.

To potentially replace those grapplers, Hansen and his staff are looking at football players.

“Losing from those classes straight through is tough when it comes to dual-meets,” Hansen said. “We’re recruiting a lot of football guys. They’re getting a late start because the football team was in the playoffs and some of them wanted to take a week off to rest up, but they’ll come in and work hard.”

Down low the Spartans have some holes to fill as well.

One spot Hansen hopes will fill quickly is at 132 where freshman Seth Fleming should begin his high school wrestling career. Seth’s older brother, Dean, is returning to Lake as a junior after wrestling last season at 138 and is one of the wrestlers Hansen is looking to lead the Spartans this season.

“As an incoming freshman, he’s been the most into it during the offseason,” Hansen said of the younger Fleming. “Even during the football season (when he played with the freshman team) he went and wrestled in a tournament. He’s aware of the expectations and goals we set here at Lake. And whenever you have brothers on a team they tend to push each other.”

Sophomore Kurt Moyer, who wrestled 106 as a freshman, junior Grant Ford (152) and potential heavyweights junior Jordan Springer and senior William Banks also return with varsity experience.

Springer, who suffered an injury last season, and Banks will likely push each other for starts through wrestle-offs, Hansen said.

How well Lake Forest will do this season, its coach wasn’t ready to predict. Hansen did note that he expects the Henlopen South to be even more difficult this season than it has been in recent past, with Milford setting the bar and Indian River and Delmar bringing strong teams to the mat.

As far as the Spartans, the coach did have one prediction.

“We’ll start off learning and grow through the year,” Hansen said. “You can’t win a championship in week one. Hopefully by the end of the season we’ll be hitting our peak.”

Lake opens the season this weekend in the Polytech Invitational tournament and hosts Cape Henlopen on Dec. 9 for its first dual-meet.

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