Year after year, the Lake Blue Streaks wrestle their way to success despite being one of the smallest schools in the Federal League.
This season has been no exception.
With nearly two-thirds of their 2013-14 campaign in the books, the Blue Streaks have posted a 8-3 overall mark, including a 2-1 league record. For 17th-year head coach Mike Mattingly and his team, the strong start has been the result of work ethic and daily determination.
"Overall, I'm pleased with our performance," Mattingly said. "We let one slip away when we lost to Lake Catholic, but I feel we have wrestled up to our expectations. The kids have worked hard and continue to improve each week. They have given us a great effort every time out."
Lake returns three state qualifiers from a year ago, led by junior Zac Carson (145 pounds), who is unbeaten at 16-0. Carson took runner-up honors in Columbus at 132 pounds and is chasing the state title that eluded him last season. Sophomore Andrew McNally (152 pounds) and senior Alec Cotton (126 pounds), who were also state participants, are off to fast starts with 14-2 records.
Junior Michael Nagy (132 pounds, 13-4), senior Chris Meffert (195 pounds, 14-1), sophomore Trey Sommers (182 pounds, 13-4) and sophomore Joey Oswald (182 pounds) have all posted double-digit wins and played large roles in the Blue Streaks' success.
One of the highlights of the early season was winning the North Canton Hoover Holiday Tournament, which had a deep field of 32 teams.
"The Hoover tournament was the bright spot so far," praised Mattingly. "Ten of our 14 wrestlers placed. Zac (Carson) and Andrew (McNally) were champions and McNally was named the most outstanding wrestler in the tournament as well."
Among Lake's victims in dual meet competiton this season have been Green (62-13), Southeast (53-18), Louisville (69-6) and Carrollton (84-0).
All three of the team's three losses have been to perennial state powers and two of the defeats, Mentor Lake Catholic (34-32) and Claymont (40-31), have been by narrow margins.
League battles against GlenOak (Jan. 30) and Jackson (Feb. 6) in dual meets remain for Lake and the team will also take part in the Top Gun tournament at Alliance, and Hephner (Austintown Fitch) tournaments.
As his unit enters the home stretch, Mattingly feels his team can still grow and improve.
"We expect our kids to continue to work hard and improve," Mattingly said. " We have a good group of kids who aren't afraid of hard work and to help each other out. We think we have five or six kids that are capable of advancing to the state tournament. We just have to wrestle up to our ability."