By Mike Maltais

It’s still early in the season but the outlook this year appears promising for the Liberty Bell High School varsity wrestling team, according to coach Paul Schmekel.

While the Mountain Lions graduated two key athletes from last year’s state championship team, seniors Justin McMillan and Taylor Woodruff, the remainder of the state finalists have returned stronger than ever.

The coach said he has a good distribution of wrestlers to cover most of the competitive weight classes, something that has been a problem in seasons past.

“Right now it looks we might only have two weights we can’t cover, 120 and 182 pounds,” Schmekel said.

So far the line-up looks like this: Danny Rodriguez, 106 pounds; Trent Skelton, 113 pounds; Danny Humiston, 126 pounds; Ivan Johnson, 138 pounds; Jake Pennock, 138 pounds; Jacob McMillan, 138-145 pounds; Meritt Fink, 138-145 pounds; Emmett Fink, 152 pounds; Milo Holston, 160 pounds; Colt Jack, 195 pounds; Stony Hulon, heavyweight.

Last season, McMillan and Meritt Fink found themselves opposite each other in the 138-pound bracket.

“This year I hope to separate them by having one at 138 and the other at 145,” Schmekel said.

Schmekel calculates that the possibility of a second state title for the Mountain Lions as “extremely high.”

“A lot of schools lost wrestlers to graduation while we only lost two,” Schmekel said. “They were an important two but we have most of the team back.”

The Mountain Lions get their first workout at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Okanogan Jamboree.