WEST LAFAYETTE -- Coming off a Inter-Valley Conference Tournament championship last season, the Ridgewood High wrestling team wants to continue that success with a repeat performance this season on the mat.
"We are proud of our accomplishment last year of winning the IVC title," Ridgewood head coach Nate Carpenter said, "but we understand that it takes a lot of hard work throughout the season to do it. That is our goal again this year, but it's a long season and we'll have to see where we are as a team come tournament time."
Carpenter, who enters his fifth season guiding the RHS wrestling program, welcomes back 11 lettermen this season.
"We bring back a lot of experienced kids and add some talent with some new kids," Carpenter stated, "but we lost our two leaders and some people are going to have to step up into those roles for us to maximize our potential this season."
Those two departed leaders for the Generals are Cole Zeigler and Garrett Bethel, who turned in stellar wrestling careers for Ridgewood.
Zeigler was a three-time IVC champion and two-time state qualifier with a career record of 166-29, which is an RHS record for career wins. Bethel was a two-time IVC champion, district qualifier and finished with a fine 125-50 career mark.
"Those two guys were my first group of freshman that I had when I started coaching here at Ridgewood," Carpenter said. "They were both leaders for the team from the time they stepped foot on the mat and we miss their hard work at practice. Being my first group I had all four years, they will always be special to me and it will be weird not having them around this year."
Leading the way for the RHS veterans will be four three-time lettermen seniors Thor Reed (152), Phillip Shannon (160), Zach Donley (170) and Kelly Barthalow (285).
Barthalow earned a trip to the state wrestling tournament last season and was named 2014 IVC "Wrestler of the Year".
"Kelly had a great junior year for us," Carpenter added. "His trip to Columbus has left him hungry for more and he wants to get back there."
Shannon, a two-time IVC champion, is returning from an injury last year, while both Reed and Donley were district qualifiers last season for the Generals.
Senior Ben Hostetler (182), a district qualifier last year, also returns along with a talented group of sophomore lettermen led by Colton Bethel (106). Bethel turned in an impressive 40-8 record last year as a freshman, along with an IVC championship and he was a state qualifier for RHS.
"Colton had a very impressive freshman year and is driven to do even better this year," Carpenter stated. "He's a real hard-working kid and I'm confident he will put in the work necessary to get it done."
Another pair of talented sophomore lettermen back are Kyle Bethel (132) and Jamaes Kedigh (195) who each were district qualifiers last season. Bethel captured an IVC championship and finished with a 27-14 record while Kedigh turned in a mark of 25-17.
Completing the RHS sophomore lettermen are Javon Merrill (132), Kevin Bethel (138) and Anthony Harman (220).
Rounding out the Ridgewood roster this season are seniors Dillan Sheplar (220) and Derek Stocker (152); juniors Cory Shaw (145) and Dillon Gossett (160); sophomores Dacoda Meeks (120) and Hunter Davis (145); and freshmen Tommy Thornsley (113), Dominic McClung (120), Kolton Alexander (126), Tyler Caudy (138) and Ian Schwab (152).
Carpenter's coaching staff includes Chad Massie, Leroy Bethel, and Jack Lenhoff as varsity assistants. Sam Carpenter and Matt Shannon will guide the junior high team.