Panther wrestling sets sights high

Panther wrestling sets sights high

There's a lot of excitement and anticipation surrounding the Ellsworth Panthers wrestling team this season. Last year the Panthers were able to compile some great accomplishments by winning a Regional Title while qualifying every weight class for the National Tournament. At the National Tournament Ellsworth crowned a National Champion and also had two other wrestlers earn All-American Honors. However, Coach Spree and his staff believe they've only scratched the surface on how successful they can be.

This season the Panthers have four returning national qualifiers (Da'Wayne Robertson, Eric Franklin, Sean Dulom, and Edwin Wilson), along with a group of very talented sophomores returning.

"Ellsworth may have one of the best groups of incoming freshmen the program has seen in a while," says Coach Spree. "The incoming freshmen have a combined 17 state championships and 21 other state medals. This class was ranked the 14th best among Non-Division I recruiting classes."

When asked about this coming season Coach Spree replied, "I'm excited about this coming year and I feel like we have put things in place for great things to happen. With that being said at this level there are no handouts and whatever our guys want to accomplish they are going to have to go out and get. We can't expect to sit back and have great things happen to us, we have to go and take them."

Coach Spree commented about the goals he has set for this year. "I strongly believe that if each kid is able to accomplish the goals that they have set for themselves great things will happen to us as a team."

The Panthers enter the season ranked 8th in the first NJCAA polls with nine wrestlers ranked among the top 12 in their respective weight classes. Returning All-American, Eric Franklin, looks to improve on his 7th place finish in 2013 as he enters the year ranked 3rd at 133 lbs. Incoming wrestlers looking to make an immediate impact include 3x Iowa State Champion Loren Williams, Iowa State Champion and Runner-up Brandon McCracken, NHSCA Senior and Sophomore National Champion De'Shun Brown, undefeated Indiana State Champion and Flonationals All-American Matt Hurford, and Florida State Champion Ritchie Guillaume.

The Ellsworth wrestlers will hit the mat for the first time Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Kaye Young Open hosted by NIACC.