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Wrestling preview: Royals look to rally around returning stars

Woodbury's Cole West, pictured here last season, is among state entrants returning to the Royals' roster this season. RiverTown Multimedia file photo

Woodbury lost half of its individual wins from last season but will look to put out a strong season with key returning wrestlers.

"We've got six new guys in the lineup as far as having never wrestled in a varsity match before," Royals coach Justin Smith said.

Besides the new wrestlers, the Royals return individual state entrants Cole West, Brock Rinehart and Brady Moesenthin.

"They're settling for nothing less than being placers," Smith said.

Junior 195-pounder Donald Nde, ranked No. 5 in the state, returns after a third-place finish in the section tournament last year.

"He's ready to make that next step," Smith said.

Smith also anticipates that senior heavyweight Max Fick could make a run.

As a team, Woodbury will look to finish in the top half of the Suburban East Conference. The Royals opened their season against SEC foe Cretin-Derham Hall with a 59-22 duel win Dec. 1. Individual winners for the Royals included sophomore Nick Sieczkowski, senior Daryl Dela Paz and sophomore Mason Barrows.

"It was a good start to the season," Smith said. "Four of those six new guys in the lineup got their first win in a varsity lineup."

Woodbury tested its mettle at weekend individual tournament at Lakeville North Dec. 2. Some of the Royals varsity wrestlers compete in junior varsity at the tourney to get more matches.

"We need to give them some more mat time, and they understood that piece," Smith said. "Going forward, we're counting on them in our dual meets."

West, a junior, won the lone individual title for the Royals in Lakeville. Sophomore Brock Rinehart and junior Nde took second place in their respective brackets. Fick finished fourth.