The Lyons Township wrestling team put on a quite a show last season, posting a 19-3 record, winning conference, regional and sectional championships, making it to the Elite 8 in team competition, and placing three wrestlers on the state podium in Drew Bates (130-pound class, second in state), Matt Nora (152, third) and Joe Gonzalez (215, second).

The early credits on this year’s group of LT grapplers could best be classified as coming attractions.

“We have a lot of talented wrestlers but they need varsity experience,” LT coach Griff Powell said. “Our goal [now] is improvement throughout the year. I’m not going to put any goals on winning championships. We just want to see how we progress, but I do think we have a lot of guys who can really get rolling and make an impact.”

The Lions will lean on a handful of key returners, notably lone returning state qualifier Jaime Jones at the 182-pound weight class. Jones also starred as the feature running back on the Lions’ state quarterfinals football team.

“Jaime is an outstanding athlete,” Powell said. “Every time he steps on the mat, it seems like he gets a little better.”

In addition to the powerful Jones, Powell welcomes back starters Brian Krueger (113), Carter Beebe (126), AJ Villarreal (132) and Jack Pearson (160). Beebe and Villarreal had over 25 wins last season and all four grapplers are poised for stellar campaigns according to Powell.

The rest of the LT lineup includes: Chris Letsinger (106), JP Reynolds (120), Jack Bates (145), Noah Avery or John Brandt (152), David Nehf or Eric Rende (170), Justin Fuller (195), Juan Montes (220) and Adam Rodgers (285). At 138, Taj Marks, Kyle Dilcher and David Garcia are vying for the top spot.

“A lot of these guys wrestled against our seniors from last year in practice,” Powell said. “The new guys are talented and want to do well; they just need experience. Most of them were very dominant at the junior varsity so it’s just a matter of adjusting to varsity competition.”

LT certainly won’t have to look far to find a good battle as the West Suburban (Silver) Conference once again is loaded with premier teams. Oak Park is a Top 3 ranked team and Hinsdale Central is a Top 10 squad.

LT opened the season by defeating Plainfield East 63-6 and then finishing eighth at the Barrington invite over the weekend.