Pictured for McClain are: (kneeling, l-r) Dawson Jansen, Kyler Trefz, Ryan Slone, Keegan Rawlins, Jacob Barton, Ethan Taylor and Phil Waters; (standing, l-r) Assistant Coach Steven Barber, Bree Dennis, Samantha Immel, Jake Krafthefer, Justin Kegley, Lucas Jansen, Quinton Smith, Zane Bode and Coach Shane Paul.
Not pictured are Thomas Retherford, Nathan Franz, Jett Robbins, Kade Rawlins and Kai Borrelli.
Pictured for McClain are: (kneeling, l-r) Dawson Jansen, Kyler Trefz, Ryan Slone, Keegan Rawlins, Jacob Barton, Ethan Taylor and Phil Waters; (standing, l-r) Assistant Coach Steven Barber, Bree Dennis, Samantha Immel, Jake Krafthefer, Justin Kegley, Lucas Jansen, Quinton Smith, Zane Bode and Coach Shane Paul. Not pictured are Thomas Retherford, Nathan Franz, Jett Robbins, Kade Rawlins and Kai Borrelli.
Shane Paul returns for his eighth season as McClain varsity wrestling coach, and with eight returning lettermen, he thinks his team returns a lot of strong leadership for his younger wrestlers.

“We have 19 kids out this year, which is the most in the seven years that I’ve been here, and with eight returning lettermen, this should be the biggest and best team we’ve ever had,” Paul said. “This will also be our toughest schedule, which continues to have stronger competition every year. I believe that overall improvement only comes from great competition, and in this sport, you have to lose some to learn how to win.

“Winning only comes from hard work and understanding what it takes to win after you lose.”



McClain has just three seniors on this year’s team, and two of those are first-time wrestlers.

Keegan Rawlins is a four-year varsity wrestler who won a team-high 46 matches last season with only six losses. He is a three-time district qualifier and has already won 109 matches in his first three seasons at McClain.

“Keegan already has 109 victories, which is quite remarkable considering that 100 wins in four years of varsity wrestling is a mark that every high school wrestlers shoot for,” Paul said.

Rawlins should continue to compete in the 152 pound weight class, but Coach Paul thinks he could possibly drop down to the 145 pound class. The other two first-year senior wrestlers will be Jacob Barton (145) and Ryan Slone (182).

Some of the top returning lettermen will be sophomore Quinton Smith (132) and Dawson Jansen (126), who each won 32 matches for the Tiger wrestling program last year as freshmen. Phil Waters, another sophomore, won 30 matches last season and should wrestle in the 170 pound division this year.

Ethan Taylor, a returning junior, registered 32 wins last season and was a district qualifier in the 195 pound weight class. Another returning junior, Kyler Trefz, battled some injuries last season but still collected 19 victories in the 182 pound division and should easily increase those totals, barring any injuries this year. Sophomore Samantha Immel also returns.

“We’re still a very young team made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores, but this freshman class is really good and should make an early impact on our team,” Paul said.

Three of those freshmen are Kade Rawlins (220), Lucas Jansen (106) and Jacob Krafthefer (138).

Kade Rawlins – who is Keegan Rawlins’ younger brother – placed in the state junior high wrestling tournament last season, missing the finals by losing an overtime thriller. Lucas Jansen is Dawson Jansen’s younger brother, and he was a two-time South Central Ohio League junior high wrestling finalist. Krafthefer was the runner-up in the SCOL junior high championship last season.

Two other wrestlers with high expectations are sophomore Kai Borrelli (285) and Nathan Franz, a junior who wrestles in the 160 pound class and is a first-time wrestler.

The Tigers have struggled over the past several seasons to fill all the weight classes in a match due to low numbers, but with 19 wrestlers, that shouldn’t be a problem this year. With that being said, the McClain wrestlers have still won 80 matches over the past seven seasons, which is very impressive.

“We don’t wrestle cupcakes. We challenge and go after the big boys, and most of the teams we compete against know that we’re going to come with a fight,” Paul said.

The Tigers will once again be hosting the fourth annual McClain Wrestling Invitational Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 30. Fifteen teams from all over Ohio, along with Campbell County, a nine-time state champion in Kentucky, will be competing.

“We will have Campbell County (Ky) and Liberty High School from Youngstown, along with Mason High School, who is a strong Cincinnati-area Division I school who won our tournament last year,” Paul said. “Winton Woods, another strong Division I school from Cincinnati, will also be competing this year.

“Our invitational is always stacked with some really good teams and some great individual wrestlers, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Miami Trace, who finished eighth in the state last year, is considered by Coach Paul to be the Frontier Athletic Conference favorite.

McClain will have two other home matches this season when they host Chillicothe and Adena on Thursday, Dec. 14 and Jackson on Thursday, Jan. 11.