When the Brookfield Bulldogs' wrestling program returns to action on November 28, the blue-and-white faithful have plenty of reason to expect results.
The Bulldogs will return five seniors from their ninth-place campaign last season, and the team has 19 wrestlers overall. Although 19 is a less-than-ideal total for a program with such a rich tradition, Brookfield coach Drew Passley said that the number of athletes has hovered around that mark during his first three years with the program and is no reason for alarm.
Three of the four state qualifiers return from last year's club, led by junior Brooks Baker, state runner-up in the 285 pound weight class. Garrett Jury, a fourth-place finisher at last year's MSHSAA championships in Columbia, returns as well.
Khalil Walker, last season's 152-pound qualifier, also returns into the mix.
"They're a great group of guys," Passley said. "I'm hoping that (the upperclassmen) can remember what it was like when they were freshmen getting shoved around. The teamwork is phenomenal -- they like each other a lot, not necessarily at practice, but we've got a good mix of guys teaching each other things. Our freshman won't necessarily know what they're getting into until that first match."
The 'Dogs have 10 freshman on the roster entering the opening match.
Passley looks forward to his side opening in Carrollton next Tuesday even for reasons aside from seeing the fruition of his team's preseason. He says the the dual is a unique opportunity for fans to get their fill high school athletics for an evening.
"It's kind of a fun dual," Passley said. "We wrestle first, and they have their basketball games right after us. It gives us a chance to watch the basketball players, and them to watch us. Fans of both sports get to see both, so we enjoy that, and I know the fans appreciate it.
"I expect some really good matches, (Carrollton) had several state qualifiers. They're a tough program, and it'll be a good first dual of the year as we try to get our kids down to the weight classes we want them to be at by the time January rolls around."