The Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland wrestling team returns a good core of wrestlers, but will have trouble in dual meets again this year due to lack of numbers.

"We will be able to send eight or nine good kids in every dual, but four to six forfeits will make it difficult to have a lot of dual meet success," said Bill Simpkins, who has coached the team since 1987. Last year the Bulldogs were 3-11 overall and 0-7 in conference duals.

A key loss from last year's team is Lucas Roe, a two-time section champion that took sixth at state last year.

Returning are four juniors that placed in last year's section meet: Wyatt Richardson at 195 lbs., with a 31-10 record and third place finish at section; Jace Bunne, at 145 lbs., with a 14-12 record and fourth place in section; Parker Hale at 152 lbs., with a 23-14 record and fourth place finish at section; and Blake Olson at 140 lbs., who had a 28-14 record and sixth place finish at section last year.

Other returning letter winners include senior Stephen Kassel at 126 lbs., junior Sam Roe at 160 lbs., freshman Brenn Olson at 106 lbs., freshman Brandon Turner at 182 lbs., and eighth grader Josh Graves at 113 lbs.

The team's football players joined the squad just last week as they made a run all the way to the state championship. Simpkins doesn't expect them to be ready for competition until the middle of the month.

"What we have seen in the room so far is great attitudes, superior work ethic and a 'let's get it on attitude,'" said Simpkins. "Dual-wise this will be a tough year. A great bunch of wrestlers and coaches to be working with makes it worthwhile."

As usual, the Three Rivers Conference will be strong top to bottom, said Simpkins. "If we can get a couple of wins when giving up 24 to 36 points in forfeits, that would be an accomplishment."

The section tournament will be a big change for GMLOK. The Bulldogs are moving to Section 2, which holds its tournaments in Blue Earth. The section will include neighbor Southland and two other teams from the area, Hayfield and Blooming Prairie, but also distant teams such as Jackson County Central, Maple River and Saint Clair/Mankato Loyola.

"This is the first time we have been out of Section 1 since wrestling was invented," quipped Simpkins. "Not sure how that was decided. Wykoff is a lot closer to Rochester than it is to Blue Earth."

The Bulldogs will open the season on Friday, Dec. 13, at Plainview to take on Plainview-Elgin-Millville of the Three Rivers Conference North. Then, Tuesday Dec. 17, they will take on another Three Rivers Conference North opponent on the road - Chatfield, which is also getting a late start due to football success.