The Prior Lake wrestling team will have some inexperience on the mat this season.
The Lakers have some talent back, including senior Chase Bloomquist who earned a state berth last year at 132 pounds. He finished the season with a 25-9 record.
Seniors Cory St. Martin and Logan Hennen also return, along with juniors Teagan Block, Gabe McDonald, Colton Sund and Billy Trees. Sophomores Cole Edwards, Ricky Gonsor and Jonah Kolsrud also look to be on the varsity mat.
"We are a young team again this year with many new kids who have never wrestled before," Lakers coach Joe Block said. "The lineup is going to be thin, but competitive, I think."
Prior Lake had its string of 16 straight section quarterfinal wins snapped last winter. The team fell 46-21 to Lakeville South in the Section 2AAA quarterfinals, ending the season with a 10-12 duals record (6-3 in the South Suburban Conference).
The last time Prior Lake failed to make it to at least the section semifinals was in coach Joe Block's first season coaching back in the 2001-02 campaign. The Lakers have won seven section titles in Block's tenure: 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Prior Lake will open the season Dec. 5 in an league match at Rosemount at 7 p.m. The Lakers will wrestle in the Ellsworth Invitational Dec. 7 at 10 a.m.
"It's hard to say right now where we are going to finish in the conference or section; we need to figure out our lineup first," Block said. "We have a great group of kids, hard workers, who want to get better."
The Lakers are ranked No. 9 in the first Class 3A poll. There are four SSC teams ranked, including No. 1 Shakopee, No. 7 Apple Valley and No. 8 Farmington.
In Section 2AAA, four teams are ranked, the Lakers, Shakopee, Apple Valley and No. 5 New Prague.
The Lakers have one individual wrestler ranked. Ninth-grader Alan Koehler is No. 6 at 106 pounds.
Shakopee, the defending state champions, have nine wrestlers ranked, including five who are ranked No. 1. So the Sabers are the heavy favorite defend their crown.
The Lakers will wrestle Shakopee on the road Jan. 2.
Prior Lake had 10 of 14 wrestlers on the medal stand in the Section 2AAA individual tournament last year. The top-two finishers make state. Block and Hennen were both fourth at 113 and 170 pounds, respectively.
The Lakers' annual Ron Edwards duals are Dec. 14. The field includes No. 3. St. Michael-Albertville, Farmington, East Ridge, Waconia and Simley, No 1 in Class 2A.