UIC wrestling race could be three-team race

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The 2017-18 Upper Iowa Conference wrestling race could be a case of haves and have-nots.
The teams that have — MFL MarMac, North Fayette Valley and South Winneshiek — return an average of 11.3 wresters who competed in last year’s conference tournament and six who qualified for the district tournament. Those that have not — Central, Clayton Ridge, Postville and Starmont — return an average of 4.5 who competed at conference and one who qualified for districts.
The conference will have a different look this year, with Edgewood-Colesburg having left the league for the Tri-Rivers Conference and Turkey Valley no longer competing in wresting in the league, having sent its few wrestlers to New Hampton.
Central
2016-17 Dual Record — 1-22 (0-8 UIC, ninth place).
2017 UIC Tournament Finish — Ninth place.
Returning district qualifiers — None.
Returning state qualifiers — None.
Outlook — The Warriors return just two wrestlers with varsity experience from a team that won just one dual a year ago and finished last at the conference tournament. Junior Andrey Shirbroun won 17 matches at 120 pounds and placed third in the conference meet while Mat Whittle won 10 matches at 285.
 
Clayton Ridge
2016-17 Dual Record — 3-23 (2-6 UIC, seventh place)
2017 UIC Tournament Finish — Seventh place.
Returning district qualifiers — None.
Returning state qualifiers — None.
Outlook — The Eagles return just three wrestlers who competed at the conference meet from a team that struggled to a 3-23 dual record last year. Senior Eric Ihde went 24-9 at 160 pounds and advanced to the district tournament while junior Colten Lawrence went 17-7 and was second in the conference at 182.
 
MFL MarMac
2016-17 Dual Record — 25-4 (7-1 UIC, second place)
2017 UIC Tournament Finish — First place.
Returning district qualifiers — Seven.
Returning state qualifiers — Four.
Outlook — The Bulldogs return 11 regulars from a team that won 25 duals last year and qualified a league-high four wrestlers for the state tournament. Junior Korby Keehner leads the way, having finished 45-8 last year while placing eighth at the state tournament at 220 pounds. Also back are state  qualifiers Michael Egan (46-4 last year), Nathan Johaningmeier (41-10) and Ethan Stubbs (37-9) as well as district qualifiers Brady Olson (39-10) and Garret Keehner (37-10).
 
North Fayette Valley
2016-17 Dual Record — 9-5 (6-2 UIC, third place)
2017 UIC Tournament Finish — Third place.
Returning district qualifiers — One.
Returning state qualifiers — One.
Outlook — The Tigerhawks return a league-high 13 wrestlers with varsity experience including the league’s lone state champion of a year ago. Senior Jordan Baumler capped a season that saw him go 29-4 by winning the Class 2A state championship at 220 pounds. Also back are 27-match winner and conference 120-pound champion Gunner Rodgers and 18-match winner Joel Grimes.
 
Postville
2016-17 Dual Record — 16-16 (5-3 UIC, fourth place).
2017 UIC Tournament Finish — Fifth place.
Returning district qualifiers — One.
Returning state qualifiers — One.
Outlook — The Pirates hope a large freshman class keeps them in the Upper Iowa Conference race this year. Five of the 14 wrestlers listed on the Pirate roster are freshmen, and they are going to be needed by a team that graduated 12 seniors, including six who competed in the conference meet last year. The lone Postville returnee is senior Uvaldo Camarillo, who went 42-2 last year at 113 pounds and was undefeated until the state tournament.
 
South Winneshiek
2016-17 Dual Record — 20-3 (8-0 UIC, first place)
2017 UIC Tournament Finish — Second place.
Returning district qualifiers — Eight.
Returning state qualifiers — One.
Outlook — The Warriors return nine wrestlers from the Upper Iowa Conference’s best dual team last year. Leading the way is senior Manning Kouboushek, who went 36-4 at 195 pounds while winning a conference championship and finishing just one win short of placing at the state tournament. Also back are 34-match winner and conference champion Felicity Taylor (106 pounds last year) and 25-match winner Tayton Bullerman (132). All told, eight of the Warriors nine returnees won at least 22 matches last year.
 
Starmont
2016-17 Dual Record — 5-20 (3-5 UIC, sixth place)
2017 UIC Tournament Finish — Sixth place.
Returning district qualifiers — None.
Returning state qualifiers — None.
Outlook — The Stars will need young wrestlers to step into the fold if they hope to move up in the conference race. Six wrestlers return, led by seniors Mitchell Hayes (132 pounds last year), Tyler Linde (160) and Carter Keppler (170), each of whom won at least 24 matches a year ago. Starmont also returns an experienced 182 pounder and a pair of experienced 285 pounders.