Washington wrestling is reloaded and ready to defend its district title.

The team returns two of its eight state qualifiers from last season, in which the Blue Jays were the champions of Class 3 District 1 and finished 13th in the state.

The program enters its 16th season under Head Coach Josh Ohm, having captured the district title in three of the past five seasons.

“No matter how far-fetched they may seem we say every year that our goal on the mat is to win a state title,” Ohm said. “Off the mat we strive to be champions in life and in the classroom. Once any of those goals change for me will be when it’s time for me to step away from coaching. We are using this sport and program to develop young men and women who will go on to be great adults who contribute to this society in a positive way and give back to this program.”

The Jays have Tommy Kelpe, occasionally known as “Tom Tom the Ticking Time Bomb,” returning at 126 pounds for his junior season after wrestling three matches at the state meet a year ago and was an individual district champion. Jack Carico, wrestling at 170, also qualified for the state tournament last season as a sophomore.

Kelpe was 26-21 a season ago with 20 victories coming via pin and one by major decision. Carico was 20-30 with 10 wins by pin, one by technical fall and two by major decision.

“Although we graduated 14 very important pieces to our team, we have quite a few returning with some type of wrestling experience,” Ohm said. “Gunnar Noud and Michael Boehlein are seniors who both were a win away from being state qualifiers. (They) will add a much needed sense of depth and leadership to the team. Tate Hendricks, now only in his second ever year of wrestling, will look to lead our light weights this year. Chris Griesenauer, after a great freshman year, has already stepped up to become a leader on this very young team. We have a great mix of kids new to the sport or returning JV kids ready to make that jump to varsity for us.”

A total of 37 wrestlers came out for the team this season.

“Our numbers are good, but we are very young,” Ohm said. “It will definitely take us time to prepare this group. Although, I remember saying the same thing last year about our team and we all know that it worked out pretty good for us when it counted.”

Paul LaVigne, Kurt Hey, Joe Callahan, Doug Hanify and Nick Hanify will serve as assistant coaches.