The Lee’s Summit North Broncos will be heading into a rebuilding year in 2023-24.
Two of the Broncos top wrestlers decided to focus on baseball this school year and 2022-23 state qualifier Hank Natali, tore his ACL during football season and will be unable to compete.
Add in the graduation of Zackary Coetzee, North will only have two returning state qualifiers from last season’s team.
That doesn’t mean the Broncos can’t make some noise, however.
Last year’s state runner-up of the 120-pound weight division in Class 4, Charlie Dykes will lead the Broncos this year. In 2022-23, he fell to two-time state champion Hunter Taylor of Liberty, 6-2, in the championship match, but finished with an outstanding 39-6 record.
During his sophomore season, Dykes took fourth at state. This time, he’s gunning for the elusive state title.
“I have just been working on the little things,” Dykes said. “I want to make it a little bit harder to stop my moves. I have been working on perfecting simple shots. Anything less than a state title … I would be disappointed.”
Senior Luke Steinbrugge is the other returning state qualifier for North. He was consistently ranked in the top six of his weight class in the MissouriWrestling.com poll. At 150 pounds, he went 1-2 at the state tournament a year ago and finished with a 40-8 mark on the season.
He could be someone who could get a state medal this season.
“Luke is awesome,” North coach Mick Cronk said. “He’s a great human being. When he’s in the room, he works hard. He uses his attributes to the best of his ability. He has a great shot to be on the podium.”
Cronk will also lean on a couple of wrestlers who shifted back and forth between the junior varsity and varsity lineup last season.
Senior Preston Sunarjo will be looking to make an impact in his first full season in the varsity lineup.
“I have been working on my mental toughness,” he said. “I really have to have a lot of confidence. And I am working on shoring up my technique, that is what is helping me make the varsity lineup. I also want to make it to state this year.”
Senior Owen Barnhill will try to do the same. Last season, he went 0-2 in the Class 4 District 3 Tournament but is aiming for better results this time around.
“I have been doing a lot of offseason wrestling,” Barnhill said. “I have been working on basics and improving my mentality. I need to work on those things to finish up matches.”
Despite losing of their state qualifier from last season, North still had other grapplers who got some experience on last year’s team. Other wrestlers who were in the starting lineup last year that are returning include Seth Hooper, Zach Scherer, Asher Feldhaus, Andrew Abernathy, Colton Baxter, Noah White and London Witteman.
“Noah was on the cusp of getting to state last year and Seth has been in the bubble match at districts the past three years in a row and hasn’t quite for to that state qualifier status yet,” Cronk said. “We have a pretty experienced team.”
Newcomers like Drew Gray, Cash Hammons and Alex Wise could also fill in some of the empty spots in the lineup.
“Drew is a specimen,” Cronk said. “He has a chance to step in and do some really good things. We have some guys who can roll with anyone. We have some guys who can place high at any tournament.”
North will have its first dual of 2023-24 at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Blue Springs.