Boonville Pirates wrestling coach Christian Stock had one word to describe the 2012-13 version Pirates wrestling team: young.
With 23 grapplers suited out for the upcoming season, six of which are returning starters, Stock said the Pirates will be a really young team with 16 either freshmen or sophomores.
“We are building on what we have and will focus on getting better with every match we wrestle,” Stock said. “Several of the wrestlers have never wrestled before, but I am excited that we have new faces interested in the sport.”
After finishing 2-6 overall and sixth in the North Central Missouri Conference, Stock said Kirksville and Moberly will probably be the top-two teams in the conference this season. The rest, he said, will be a toss-up.
“I hope to make a mid range push this year,” Stock said. “The kids are working hard and getting better every day and every match. We do not focus on the negative things but will build on the positives.”
With so much youth on the team this season, Stock said strength has to be having several of the juniors and two of the seniors with many years of experience in wrestling. Stock said the wrestling program is also starting to see the benefits of the youth wrestling program and the junior high wrestlers coming through the system.
“We are just going to be young and inexperienced,” Stock said. “There is not a lot more than that to it.”
As for the goals this season, Stock said the wrestlers will try to compete on the level of their opponents in every match.
Of course it could take the Pirate grapplers some time to get used the competition. With five open weight classes at 106, 160, 170, 182 and 195, Stock said he is hoping to fill some of the classes later on in the season.
“We are going to have several opens because of kids getting down to weight for the classes they will eventually wrestle at,” Stock said. “The match on Tuesday against Higginsville will be the first dual of the year and will be the first dual as a high school wrestler for our younger guys in the lineup. It is hard to make a prediction based on that. I want us to compete head to head and set goals for ourselves and strive to achieve them.”
One such wrestler that Coach Stock will not have to worry about this season is senior Kyle Cook. While closing out the 2011-12 season at 43-5, Cook will return this season to wrestle in the 220-pound weight class.
Of course nobody had a better season than Cook last year. In addition to win 40-plus matches, the senior standout also 65 takedowns along with 30 pins, 28 three-point nearfalls, 16 two-point nearfalls, eight reversals and five escapes.
“Not only was Kyle a state qualifier last season, he also had a great season and tied a team record for most pins in a season,” Stock said. “Kyle was our best wrestler on the year and we look to him for senior leadership this season. I also plan on him being a contender at state this year.”
Senior Brennan Hammers also returns for the Pirates in the heavyweight division. While finishing 25-18 last year along with 18 takedowns, 15 pins, nine escapes, three three-point nearfalls, three reversals and two two-point nearfalls, Stock said Hammers wrestled the entire year as a heavyweight when he could have wrestled 220. “Brennan had a good season and I plan on him having a better one this year,” Stock said. “He has worked hard at maintaining his weight this year and is heavier to compete with the bigger kids.”
Juniors Rory Concannon and Dylan Snapp will also return for the Pirates in the 132 and 145-pound weight classes, respectively.
Concannon closed out the 2011-12 campaign at 19-18 overall with 40 escapes, 25 takedowns, 10 pins, seven two-point nearfalls, six three-point nearfalls and five reversals and was one match away from qualifying for the state tournament. Stock said Concannon has really gotten better every season. “He needs to focus on offense from his feet, but is a sound wrestler on the mat,” Stock said.
Snapp also showed improvement last year while finishing 8-31 overall with 31 escapes, 10 takedowns and seven pins. Stock said Snapp has come a long way and is still working to improve every day in the wrestling room. “We look for him to increase in the win column,” Stock said.
Another wrestler who will bring back experience this season is sophomore Ben Rumbaoa in the 152-pound weight class. While finishing 23-14 overall last year with 34 escapes, 20 takedowns, 18 reversals, 13 pins and eight three-point nearfalls, Stock said Rumbaoa  is a solid wrestler who they look to get better as the season progresses.
“Ben always has a way of catching kids off-guard with moves and capitalizing on that,” Stock said.
Other wrestlers who will step in this season for the Pirates are sophomore Quincy Banuet at 112, sophomore Brandon Ashpaugh at 120 and freshman Morgan Browning at 126.
Stock said all three wrestlers are new to the program. “We are just looking for them to gain experience throughout the season,” Stock said.
After Tuesday’s match against the Higginsville Huskers, the Pirate wrestlers will compete in the Pleasant Hill Tournament on November 30 and December 1. Then, on Tuesday, Dec. 4th, the Pirates will host Fulton in the conference opener starting at 6 p.m.