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Neither team will be at full strength, but for an early season high school wrestling dual, Don Bosco of Gilbertville's gym on Dec. 6th will be the place to be.

That Thursday two of the top perceived teams in Class 1A will square off with Denver and Don Bosco throwing down.

The Dons took second in last year's traditional state tournament, with the Cyclones taking third.

"It is always good to go toe to toe with those guys and see what we have to work on," Denver coach Chris Krueger said.

"Denver is pretty solid, for sure," Don Bosco head Tom Hogan said.

Both teams return loaded lineups and plenty of state tournament points. The Cyclones have seven state place winners back and eight qualifiers altogether which adds up to 80 returning state tournament points, while Don Bosco returns four state place winners, including state champion and South Dakota State signee Dan Kimball, and six qualifiers.

"The sky is the limit for them," Krueger said of his team. "We return a lot. A lot of talent. Fitting all that talent into the lineup is the challenge. The line-up we have at the beginning of the year might not be the line-up we have at the end."

Pacing the way for Denver are state place winners Brooks Meyer (106), Jacob Moore (113), Gabe Lewis (132), Riley Wright (138), John Ebaugh (160), Cael Krueger (170) and Brock Farley (285).

Isaac Schmimels a state qualifier at 120 is also back as well as some other regulars -- Chase Lyons and Logan Meyer.

"What I really like about our team is we have a lot of under the radar guys that are really going to push our starters," Chris Krueger said.

In Gilbertville, Hogan is in the same boat saying he's got a couple of regulars who are nursing football injuries, injuries that aren't long term, but bad enough to keep them out probably the first couple of weeks.

"There is no doubt about it that we like where we are at with the team that we hopefully put on the mat by at least the end of the year," Hogan said.

In addition to Kimball, Cael Frost (sixth at 120), Easton Larson (fourth at 126) and Thomas Even (fifth at 170) are back for the Dons. Qualifiers Max Wettengel and Bryce Schares return as do three district qualifiers -- Michael McClelland, Cael Rahnavardi and Noah Pittman.

And there three freshman that will be looking to make a name for themselves -- Garrett Funk, Cade and Carson Tenold.

In Class 2A, Northeast Iowa is also well represented with 11 returning state place winners and 13 additional qualifiers back.

New Hampton, which took second to Dubuque Wahlert, has Evan Rosonke back (8th at 182) as well as three other qualifiers Mason Cleveland, Max Babcock and Carson Babcock.

Another team to watch is Osage. The Green Devils return Zach Williams (fifth at 160) and five other state qualifiers -- Averee Abben, Joe Sullivan, Joe Jacobs, Brody Roll and Spencer Mooberry.

Union of La Porte City returns two top-four place winners -- Kolten Crawford (fourth at 106) and Jack Thomsen (third at 120).

Class 2A, is perhaps, the most wide open team race headed into the preseason. The top four teams at last year's traditional state tournament -- Dubuque Wahlert, New Hampton, South Tama and Ballard -- return a combined 20 state tournament points.

The top-two point returners are Prairie City-Monroe (62.5) and Centerville (59).

In Class 3A, Eric Whitcome says the expectations on his Waverly-Shell Rock program are higher than they have been in recent seasons.

"I don't think that is based on anything other than we do have an experienced group who have been elevating those expectations themselves," Whitcome said.

Class 3A is loaded with talented teams including defending champion Fort Dodge, Waukee, traditional power Southeast Polk and West Des Moines Valley.

But with four returning state place winners, six qualifiers altogether, counting Cedar Falls transfer Bailey Roybal, and the highly anticipated debut of super frosh Aiden Riggins, whom many think will contend for a state championship at 106 this winter, the Go-Hawks want to contend. 

"It is a little bit of a combination," Whitcome said. "We're giving them some obstacles that they haven't had to work through. At the same time we feel like we have always challenged them, but it is just what level are they willing to be challenged at. It's about competing at a higher level, expecting more and expecting to give more."

Leading a hopeful charge up the 3A standings for the Go-Hawks is three-time state place winner Dylan Albrecht who will open the year at 126. Two other seniors -- Jacob Hermann (6th at 152) and Bryson Hervol (7th at 160) also found the podium last spring, and junior Brayden Wolf was fifth at 195 as a sophomore.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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