22-23 Winter Preview: Wilmington wrestling


The 2021-22 season was one of the best ever for the Wilmington High School wrestling program.

Wilmington sent a school record four athletes to the state tournament and three of them reached the podium, signifying at least a top eight finish in their respective weight classes. The Hurricane also qualified for the State Duals Elite Eight by winning the regional title, which hadn’t happen at Richardson Place since 2014.

Thane McCoy finished sixth at 138 pounds, Thad Stuckey fourth at 165 pounds and Brett Brooks eighth at 285 pounds.

Stuckey and McCoy were named All-Ohio based on their finish.

Brooks, along with Lee Lynch and Brayden Smith, graduated this past spring.

Kelly Tolliver returns for his 10th season as the head coach and has Isaac Bray, Ryan Stuckey, Gary Van Pelt, Zach Johnson and Brad Bean as his high school assistant coaches. Tim Wiederhold leads the middle school program as head coach and is assisted by Alantino Keefer.

“I can’t say enough about the staff,” said Tolliver. “Our group is dedicated to helping these athletes achieve in the classroom foremost and on the mat. They are all dedicated and want nothing but the best for our wrestlers. The majority are all (WHS) alumni and were produced right here at home and have only the goal to give back what was entrusted to them.”

Wilmington has 12 starters back, losing only Brooks from the everyday starting lineup. McCoy, Stuckey and Carson Hibbs (a two-time state qualifier) are back to lead the Hurricane in 2022-23.

Thane and Thad have really led over the summer months and in open mats,” Tolliver said. “They were able to take more advantage of mat time than anyone I have coached in the past. It’s really heartening to see them focus and determined on all their goals this season and it has been contagious for the rest of the team.”

Despite the continuity in personnel from last year to this year, Tolliver said he likes this team’s ability to “embrace being uncomfortable.”

Said Tolliver, “No good results or change come without making yourself uncomfortable. These guys see what it takes to compete at the level necessary to be champions. They are driven and motivated which makes our jobs enjoyable as coaches.”

Health will play a key role going forward but Tolliver said his team has one of the toughest rosters in the league and will be a strong contender if it can avoid injuries. A healthy Hurricane squad also will fight to win a State Duals championship.

For those attending WHS home matches, a new mat will be on display in honor of Kelly Tolliver’s father, Kelly Allen Tolliver.

”It arrived in the spring and has his initials on it (KAT),” said Kelly. “He was a big supporter, rarely missing a match, and gave a lot financially over the years to the program.”

https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/11/web1_LOGO_whsswirl-4.jpg