There are a lot of new faces in the John Marshall wrestling lineup, 10 to be exact.
Head coach Ted Zervos has seen his young Monarchs progress so far as the 2011-12 season has unfolded on the mats.
"I've seen quite a bit of progress from the kids thus far," Zervos noted. "We've wrestled in a lot of dual meet tournaments and a bracket tournament in Barnesville, but the OVAC Tournament is a pretty special event. There are a lot of quality wrestlers there."
PICTURED IS the 2011-12 John Marshall Monarchs Wrestling Team. Front row, from left, are Casey Mowder, Josh Rine, Howard Vanscyoc, Greg Keller, Quentin Blatt, D.J. Kaylor, Ryan Quinn, David Brautigam and Shane Stewart. Back row, from left, are head coach Ted Zervos, assistant coach Ed West, Dylan Hall, Jacob Wood, Cody Boles, Cullen Ebbert, Thomas Schwing, Ryan Simmons, Zack Steele, Lewis Mason, assistant coaches Roger Simmons and Bob Wilson.
John Marshall finished sixth overall in last year's extravaganza, and was a fifth-place finisher in the Class 4-A portion of the three-day event.
However, with only four returning letterwinners, Zervos is optimistic about placewinners in this year's tournament.
"I've got a good feeling about a couple of kids," he revealed.
The Monarchs had two placewinners a year ago who return, including senior Thomas Schwing (195) and sophomore Dylan Hall (132). Schwing finished third at 189 a year ago, while Hall was sixth at 112.
"Thomas was a (W.Va.) state qualifier last year," Zervos said of Schwing, who is currently 26-5. "You can't count him out from going all the way. He can wrestle with anyone, but it is a tough weight class. How high he places is up to him."
The 22-9 Hall was also a state qualifier, but has bumped up three weight classes.
"That additional 20 pounds has really helped him strength-wise," Zervos said. "Dylan should have a pretty good tournament."
Three other grapplers have a shot of standing on the podium following Saturday night's championship finals, according to the head coach.
They are freshman Casey Mowder (113), senior Lewis Mason (160) and sophomore Cullen Ebbert (220).
Mowder, who is an impressive 22-8, has really surprised his head coach.
"Casey is a pretty tough kid for being just a freshman," Zervos advised.
Mason is 21-9 and, although he hasn't placed at the OVAC yet, he is more than capable, according to Zervos.
"Lewis has competed with a lot of the top-rated kids in his weight class," Zervos added.
Ebbert, who is 24-7, placed fourth in West Virginia a year ago.
"Cullen came on strong at the end of last year and is has carried over to this season," Zervos noted. "He's in a pretty good field of wrestlers, but I think he can hold his own."
The remainder of the Monarchs lineup consists of freshmen Shane Stewart (8-13) at 106 and Quentin Blatt (18-12) at 120; sophomore Greg Keller (8-15) at 126; juniors Cody Boles (16-15) at 138, Ryan Simmons (14-18) at 145, Jacob Wood (13-16) at 152 and Walker Standiford (6-23) at 182; and senior Zack Steele (19-12) at 170.
Zervos did mention that Wood might not be able to compete due to health issues. The Monarchs don't field a 285-pounder.
Five Monarchs who placed last season were lost to graduation. They were Zach Tubaugh (4th, 103); Justin Goode (3rd, 125); Marshall Mason (2nd, 152); Jacob Steele (8th, 171) and Michael Berardi (4th, 285).