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Cavs wrestling strives to improve

The Lakeland High School wrestling team has been striving to improve while wrestling larger schools.

Lakeland is in the smallest classification in the Southeastern District. Throughout the regular season, the Cavaliers often wrestle opponents with bigger teams. However, Lakeland coach Nathan Hoffman sees the Cavs’ regular season preparing them for the bigger picture.

When it comes time for regionals or state meets, Lakeland will face teams that are in its region or classification. Hoffman hopes the tough regular season will prepare his athletes well for the postseason, when they are actually wrestling schools in their classification.

“It is tough, but I feel like it will pay off long-term in the season,” Hoffman said. “We have wrestled against much tougher competition than maybe we will see in the postseason. That competition will help us. We will have seen whatever anybody has.”

The Toys for Tots tournament hosted by Ocean Lakes High School provided a good showing for the Lakeland wrestling team. The tournament featured more than 20 teams and is the toughest regular-season tournament for the Cavs. Will Wescott finished second at 113 pounds, and the 152-pounder Dejuan Jacobs finished seventh. Hoffman felt good about those finishes and believes that those two wrestlers have a good shot at making the state tournament this season. Last year, the Cavs sent two wrestlers to states and had one place, which was the first time the school did so in more than five years.

“We are seeing the best there is, and if we are competing with them and standing toe to toe with them, you have got to feel good about it,” Hoffman said. “I am excited about how things will look in the postseason, and I look forward to seeing how our kids compete.”

Hoffman said he reminds his kids that sometimes, things may not go their way because of who they face in their regular season schedule. Lakeland’s goal for this season was just to build on what they did last year.

“I feel like that will be a good measure of how our program is going,” Hoffman said. “We want to keep sending guys to state and placing them.”

Lakeland will get back into meets Jan. 17 at Western Branch High School.