What looked like a promising season for the North Putnam High School wrestling squad has turnout to be a less than promising.
In the beginning of the year, the Cougars were set to fill every weight class, but now are hoping by the conference match to fill at least eight spots.
"We lost five kids to grades, one who didn't decide to come out and one who decided to play basketball this year," NPHS Coach Kerry Kerns said.
In spite of losing seven kids from the team, the Cougars still have a large number of returning wrestlers. The Cougars have three seniors returning in CJ Spencer, Levi Elliot and AJ Brewer along with three juniors who include Chris Humphries, Jacob Stigall and Emmett Boruff who won the county and conference title in the heavy weight division. The rest of the team this year will consist of freshmen.
"In the beginning we had our sights set on winning the conference after finishing second behind Greencastle last year, things happened but I would still like us to make a statement this year," Kerns said.
The Cougars will balance between experience and inexperience this year, with half the team being upperclassmen and the other half being freshmen, but that isn't bothering Coach Kerns.
"I think we will be alright this year. I have 12 kids who want to be here and practice and want to wrestle and that's what you want on your team," Kerns said. "I also have a great leadership core this year with my seniors, and I am happy about that.
Even though the Cougars will probably forfeit many of the weight classes in each match, Kerns says that it won't get the team down.
"I have always had the philosophy to go out and win everything you can, and these kids aren't getting down about not winning as a team," Kerns said. "I am really excited about these kids this year. They are putting the effort into it and they've stuck with it."
With half the team being upperclassmen, Kerns will be relying on them to go the distance.
"I really look foward for the upperclassmen to advance this year, and if they do well we should be alright this year," Kerns said. "We made great strides last year with us being runners up in the conference last year for the first time in North Putnam's history.
"These kids are probably the best group of kids that I have coached."