2021 Fairview wrestling picture

Members of the Fairview wrestling team are (front row, from left) manager Mathias Neilson, Aydan Judd, Daven Reyes, Carter Hill, Hoyt Brown, Deven Huffman, Robby Bennett, Broderic Spangler, Airees Davenport, Michael Betz and manager Cael Neilson; (back) assistant coach Kaden Blair, assistant coach Robert Bennett, Summer Bates, Bryce Krill, Cole McStoots, Caleb Sprague, Zach Pettit, Kyler Blair, Quinton Smith, Kameron Canfield, Zeplyn Bany, Dylan Pettit, Harmon Hetrick, coach Josh Neilson and assistant coach Cory Sidle.

SHERWOOD — Fairview wrestling coach Josh Neilson is excited for his Apaches’ team for the upcoming season, and with a solid mix of letterwinners, promising freshmen and 20 grapplers out for the high school squad, it’s easy to see why.

“We’re really excited about this year,” said Neilson, who enters his fourth season as Fairview’s coach. “We lost three seniors that were really, really good and that always makes an impact.

“But we’ve got some freshmen coming up that are going to fill those spots and we’ve got some underclassmen that are getting older and maturing. We’ve had a couple kids that have just really put a lot of work in this summer and they’re just making leaps and bounds.”

Fairview, which finished third in the Green Meadows Conference Championships last season, will need to replace a strong trio of wrestlers, including one of the best in school history in Kaden Blair. The former Apaches’ standout, who will be an assistant coach this year, finished eighth at 138 pounds in the 2021 OHSAA Division III state tournament.

Blair became the first Fairview state placer since 2001, finished the season with a 41-12 record and surpassed more than 120 victories for his career.

Fairview will also look to replace state alternate Wes Bany (fifth at 220 pounds in district tournament) and district heavyweight qualifier Tyler Martin. Blair and Bany were both three-time district qualifiers, and Martin also earned multiple district appearances.

Neilson has plenty of talent to work with coming back, though.

Junior Kyler Blair and sophomore Airees Davenport were both district qualifiers at 170 and 106 pounds, respectively, while junior Robby Bennett was a district alternate at 152. They are among eight letterwinners for the Apaches.

Blair went 28-18 last year and was second at 160 pounds at the GMC tournament. Davenport finished 20-23 overall and Bennett 26-17.

Senior Zeplyn Bany earned the 195-pound GMC title and posted a 24-12 mark.

“They’re upperclassmen now, they’re juniors and seniors and stuff so they’ve seen those guys come through,” Neilson said. “Now, what we’re hoping is that they’re going to be the ones that step up.

“... They’ve got to be the next ones to show these younger guys how hard they need to work and what it takes to get to that next level. They’ve been doing that and we’ve seen some freshmen step up and boy, they’re working hard too.”

Summer Bates (113 pounds), Michael Betz (126), Dylan Pettit (138) and Quinton Smith (285) also lettered for Fairview.

Four freshmen, including Cole McStoots (220), Aydan Judd (120), Hoyt Brown (120) and Zach Pettit (132), could make an immediate impact as well.

“We’ve got really good numbers out at the high school level this year. We’ve got 20 kids, so I think one of the keys is having our upperclassmen now, Zeplyn and Robby and Kyler, not just pushing each other but pushing these younger guys,” Neilson said. “So when they start pushing these younger guys in the room and things like that, I think we’ll see good growth over the year from some of these younger guys.

“By the end of the season, I think that it’s going to be really important for our underclassmen, some of these freshmen, to know that they’re not just filling a spot, that we’re going to have expectations that they’re out there competing and winning matches. So I think these upperclassmen showing them the ropes is really going to be a big deal.”

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