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Benton wrestlers begin new era under Robinson

 
 
updated: 11/22/2017 2:37 PM

Benton High School's wrestling program will have growing pains this winter with a new coach and a ton of underclassmen.

First year coach Aaron Robinson, a 2010 graduate of BCHS, thinks he will have a competitive team, possibly growing enough by season's end to compete for a regional title.

"We're at 22 to 24 kids right now. We're a really young team. We've got one senior, a handful of juniors and the rest are freshmen and sophomores," said Robinson.

"As a first year coach, it's a clean slate. We're all at zero. We're working one day at a time. It's been fun so far. It's super exciting."

Junior Daniel Richardson (195) is the lone sectional qualifier returning to the squad. The Rangers lost state qualifier Oliver Davis to graduation.

Football standout Blane Pankey (195-220) is the team's lone senior.

"He's been doing good, leading the room really well," Robinson said, adding that football coach Bob Pankey has joined the staff as the strength coach. Zach Wilson, whose father Neal led the program for years, is also an assistant coach. Wilson was a state champion as a Ranger.

Another football player, junior Carston Sanders, will wrestle from 220 up to 285.

Junior Seth Padovic (106 or 113) "has put in some good work," according to his coach. Classmates Isaiah Doty (145) and Tyler Carroll (120) are expected to start.

Another junior, Jadon Stark (220) won't be available until after the Christmas break, due an injury.

Robinson has also been impressed with sophomore Jacob Anderson, who will wrestle in one of the lower weight classes.

"Our goal is to fill every position, and as of right now, we can definitely do that. We're going to be balanced. We're going to be a little better in our heavier weights and we have some kids in the lower weight classes who will be good," Robinson projected. "We're going to have to find some consistency as far as teaching them how to wrestle in close matches. If we can do that, we will be able to compete. You have a chance if you can fill the lineup up. That's been our goal."

Robinson said Murphysboro, Anna-Jonesboro and West Frankfort will compete for the conference title.

Benton will host this year's dual team Class A sectional.

"Our goal is to push for that regional and wrestle a dual at home. That's our overall team goal, to win a regional," Robinson concluded.