CAMDEN — Preble Shawnee wrestling is under new leadership, as Jake Follick takes over the program in his first year as head coach.
Follick takes over the program after being an assistant previously, and a deep roster should help the first-year coach have a successful first season.
“We’re going to have a full line up, or close to it, and that’s key for a Division III wrestling team, especially in southwest Ohio,” he said. “That’s a really good place for us to start.”
With the depth, Follick has raised his expectations for the program.
“For me, a sectional championship for Preble Shawnee is one of main goals,” he said, adding, “And to have 10 district qualifiers, it’s a hefty goal but I think we have the talent to do it.”
After placing sixth in the sectional tournament as a team, the Arrows return plenty to the roster. Seniors Kolten Dillon and Kole Monebrake are expected to be the leaders of the program.
“Those are my two captains,” Follick said. “I think those two definitely have a shot at the state tournament.”
Alex Steele, a junior, returns after being a district qualifier in the heavyweight division. Camron Neal also returns to the team as a junior after a successful sophomore season, and Follick said he will be counting on those four to lead to program.
The team is also benefiting from a move-in from Eaton, as Tanner Claybaker, a senior, joins the Arrows’ program.
Mason Williams, another senior for the Arrows, will return to wrestling for his senior season, adding to the depth of the program.
A first-year wrestler from the football team also has Follick excited about the upcoming season. Luke Lovely, a sophomore, has impressed in early practices according to his coach. “He’s been making huge strides — he’s an athlete and incredibly coachable kid,” Follick said of the wrestler. “I just wish I would I had him for four years.”
According to Follick, tapping into tradition at the school will be key. “Our toughness will be key — Preble Shawnee has always been known for our toughness — I think that really isn’t something we have to coach, it’s just there. We are going to hinge out that, wrestle into the third period and break opponents down.”
One way Follick is bringing back tradition is through his assistant coaches, as Brian Carter returns to the program as the school’s only state champion, winning the title in 1986.
“There is a lot of good hype and motivation around the program right now,” Follick said. “We’re talking about a big culture change and shift of mentality, to get the buy-in needed to succeed at the highest level is important. If I’m not concerned about that, I’m not doing my due diligence.”
The season starts for the Arrows at Carlisle High School on Wednesday, Dec. 9, for a tri-meet between Preble Shawnee, Carlisle and Milton-Union.
Reach Austin Schmidt 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.