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The Braves return three returning state placers and are feeling good about what's to come this year.

PMG PHOTO: JOHN LARIVIERE - Banks' Jack Lyda wrestles with Aloha's Jacob Boyce at the Rose City Championships this past Friday, Dec. 10, at Westview High School.Banks head wrestling coach Dan Herb is excited about this season. Not just because his team is No. 6-ranked in the preseason 4A state wrestling poll, but also because he and his team are back to operating "normally" after what could only have been described as an abnormal 2020-21 season.

"Last year was so rushed and we didn't have time to really put much into it," Herb said. "This year things are back to normal and it's been great, especially for the kids who've been around for a bit, just to get back to a normal routine."

The Braves had 27 boys and four girls come out for the team this season, numbers Herb feels good about. Amongst those 31 kids are three returning state placers from a team that qualified eight kids for and finished eighth in the 4A state tournament, including seniors Hunter (120) and Dylan (126) Smith who placed second; and junior Daevon Vereen (195) who placed fifth. Three more of those state qualifying kids — sophomore George Bergstrom (106), senior Luke Bozied (145), and sophomore Mishael Mauck (220) — also return.

Banks got things started on the right foot with a win at the Deven Dawson Memorial Tournament in Harrisburg Dec. 3, placing atop a 26 team field with 246 points. The Braves got wins from both Hunter (138) and Dylan Smith (145), along with Vereen (182), while Mason Warren (126) and Brayden Ball (220) placed second.

Herb said he wasn't surprised with the win but was at the same time pleased with how his team performed in what was their inaugural competition of the 2021-22 season.

"I thought we had a good shot, but you never know how you're going to wrestle the first time out," the coach said. "I thought we wrestled well and we hadn't had a win in a while, so that's always good, but we've got a lot of things to work on."

Last year's wrestling season took place in the spring due to COVID, and Herb said that he thinks the abbreviated offseason helped his kids.

"We just wrestled like four months ago," Herb said, "So, it seams like we picked up pretty fast right where we left off."

In addition to Herb's returning talent, he noted amongst those impressing early, Jack Lyda (132) and Jack Vandehey (138) who both finished fifth at regionals last season. Due to that emerging talent coupled with his returning standouts, Herb is aiming at a fourth place finish at this year's state event.

The Smith's are squarely aimed at state titles, and the Banks coach believes Vereen may poised to do the same this year.

"He's just a good wrestler," the coach said. "Without the big tournaments last year no one really got to see him, but he works so hard and I expect that he too has high expectations for the year."


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