Reservoir Gators

Last season: 8-3, 14-8, fourth at county tournament, 3A/4A East regional champion)

Coach: Andrew McIntyre, second season

Top returners: Sophomores Mason Kilcarr (113/120) and Hans Wicklein (120/126).

Submit a Letter to the Editor for the Laurel Leader, Columbia Flier and Howard County Times

Top newcomers: Sophomore Michael Sullivan (195); freshmen Troy Kilcarr (106), Trent Kilcarr (113) and Sam Rowell (138).

The gameplan: Not only do the defending regional champion Gators have to deal with graduation this year — they lose a pair of 100-match winners in two-time state champ Mark Colabucci (141-18) and Josh Hamilton (108-16) — but also relocation. Seth Rowell, who was Reservoir's youngest county champ as a sophomore last season, transferred to Mount St. Joseph, and Donovan Peek, who won 23 matches and was a county finalist as a freshman, moved out of state. But the Gators do have youth, raw talent and numbers (40). Mason Kilcarr, who won a regional title as a freshman and finished with more than 32 wins, is back as the team's veteran leader. His younger brothers, Troy and Trent, have kicked around the junior league circuit for years and will be a big help. Rowell's younger brother, Sam, is another junior league star. Sullivan was a JV county finalist and Wicklein finished fourth in the varsity tournament.

Bonus point: Hamilton (34) and Colabucci (26) combined for 60 pins last year, and Hamilton pinned his opponent in the third place match of the state tournament in only 18 seconds.

River Hill Hawks

Last season: 10-1, 28-8, county tournament runner-up

Coach: Brandon Lauer, sixth season

Top returners: Seniors Jason Johnson (285), Jacob Benedict (220), Omar Messallam (182) and Jack Noonan (152); junior Taariq Mohammed (113); sophomores Cory Daniel (170) and Logan Kirby (195).

Top newcomers: Sophomore Michael Beck (106); freshman Brian Kirby (138).

The gameplan: The Hawks, who were long known for their depth in the lowerweights, are now the envy of the county when it comes to upperweights. Between 152 and 285 they have three 30 match winners (Johnson, Benedict and Daniel) and three 20 match winners (Messallam, Kirby and Noonan). All six were regional qualifiers, and Daniel and Benedict both made it to the state tournament, where Benedict placed sixth. Mohammed also went to the state tournament last year and finished the season with 32 wins. Brian Kirby is the latest in a line of four brothers, after Sean, Cameron and Logan, to lend their considerable talent to River Hill wrestling.

Bonus point: Lauer had to wait until December to get the full attention of two of his best upperweights, Johnson and Logan Kirby. Both were standout defensive linemen for River Hill’s 3A state champion football team, which defeated Thomas Johnson, 41-13, at M&T Bank Stadium Dec. 3.

Wilde Lake Wildecats

Last season: 6-5, 11-10, third at county tournament

Coach: Azmar Hagler, fifth season

Top returners: Seniors Alex Polonsky (120/113) and Ryan Drazenovic (152/160); juniors Jordan Trinh (113) and Tola Morakinyo (152/160); sophomore Noah Polonsky (108).

Top newcomers: Juniors Nate Haase (195) and Kris Hines (182); sophomores Tyler Anderson (126) and Malik Jackson (132).

The gameplan: It would be impossible to replace the production of county champions Alvin Harris and Zathy Ndiang, who also won a state title, in the upperweights, but the Wildecats should be strong down low with the Polonsky brothers and Trinh. Alex Polonsky won a state championship as a sophomore, and hopes to go out as a senior with another strong showing. Morakinyo broke out as a sophomore, finishing third in the county and winning 24 matches. Drazenovic made it back in time for the county tournament last year after recovering from heart surgery. He struggled, but has a track record of success and is capable of big things this year. Anderson and Jackson, JV county champs last year, headline a booster crop of incoming talent.

Bonus point: Last year Wilde Lake had five JV county champions — Noah Polonsky (103), Anderson (112), Jackson (125), Adam Satterfield (171) and K.C. Collins (215).