BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
KAYSVILLE – Davis Darts wrestling coach Neal Porter is confident his team will improve upon its finish to the 2013 season.
The team’s steady improvement, in combination with a solid group of grapplers returning to the mat, is proof enough for Porter to believe in this year’s squad.
After finishing 14th overall in the 2011 state tournament, Davis improved in the 5A state competition by placing ninth in 2012.
“One of our goals almost every year is to be in the top 10 (at state),” he said. “I have confidence that we can accomplish that this season. I’d like to be able to finish in the top five.”
The Darts will return a trio of grapplers this year that will help accomplish that goal as well. Junior Kade Evans, as well as senior Jacob Naylor and sophomore Wyatt Koelling, were all state placers in 2012. Each of them finished in the top five, and a couple of them also did well at the super state competition later in the year.
“Evans went to a tournament in Fargo and finished sixth in the junior division,” Porter said, “so we’re looking for him to have a really good season.”
Evans finished fifth at the state tournament last season.
After placing fourth at the state tournament last year, Koelling had placed well in other national tournaments following the Darts’ postseason competition. In a tournament at Iowa, the sophomore finished second.
“He’s been working very hard this off-season by going to those big tournaments,” Porter said. “He’s accomplished quite a bit.”
Jacob Naylor, younger brother to Brett Naylor, will likely wrestle at 145 pounds this year. Naylor had a very successful season last year by placing fourth in the state tournament. He followed the high finish by placing third at the super state tournament, and will be relied on to provide leadership to the team.
“He’s going to be a definite leader on this team,” Porter said. “Parts of our team is very young, but he’s a guy that’s gone out there and worked a lot with those younger guys.”
A couple other possible standouts this season will be juniors Jeff McIlrath and Christian Smith.
McIlrath will likely wrestle at 145 pounds, but may drop down to 138 pounds, according to Porter. Smith will make the quick transition from the football field to the wrestling mat, but Porter said his leadership skills will be a plus to the squad.
“He’s a natural leader,” Porter said. “He’s another one of those guys that’s a hard-working guy.”
Porter added that he is excited to have the Viewmont Vikings, who finished sixth in the state tournament last year, back to the region this season as well.
“I kept my duel with them (when they were in Region 2) because they’re a strong squad,” he said. “It’s nice to have them back. I think it raises that level of competition even higher for our region.”