The Pirates open the season Friday and Saturday with the Wahpeton Tournament.

Pirate Wrestling graduated just one senior from last season's squad and have five seniors this season. One might think the Pirates are young and inexperienced but the Pirates actually return five with State Tournament experience, including Josh Edlund, who placed third last season.

The Pirates open the season Friday and Saturday with the Wahpeton Tournament.

Joining Edlund are sophomore Cody Weiland, who was section champion last season, senior Wyatt Hanson and juniors Blake Bergeron and Nate Merten.

All five of them won at least 20 matches last season and three of them won 30 or more.

Add to those five, junior Kyle Caputo and sophomore Luke Edlund, who each won 13 matches last season, and eighth grader Preston Desrosier, who won nine matches at 106 pounds and returns at 106 pounds this season. Also returning this season are senior Cody Erickson and sophomore Shad Steer, both varsity veterans.

"Everyone is looking at those five kids that have been to State," said Pirate head coach Chad Hitchen in his 14th season. "They are some of the section favorites. They will be the horses in our lineup and we'll fill in around them."

The Pirates are poised to be one of the top teams in Section 8AA this season.

"The expectations are higher than what they were last year," said coach Hitchen. "We were 5-10 in duals last season and we added eight new kids. We are going to be more green, but we will fill a team and a lineup.

"Anytime you wrestle a Class A or AA team it's nice to fill a lineup and to be able to juggle a lineup," Hitchen continued. "Giving a team six points hurts, and we'll add to our depth as the season gets going."

Josh Edlund is ranked No. 4 at 220 pounds in Class AA by, while Weiland is No. 8 at 138 pounds and Hanson is No. 10 at 152 pounds.

Coach Hitchen said he expects all five of his wrestlers with State experience to be State champs.

"Expectations are for them is to be State champs," he said. "I don't see anything less than that. If they want it they can have it. It comes down to work ethic and I firmly believe that any one of those five that walk in that wrestling room could be a state champ. Josh was so close last year and it should be his goal this season. There is no reason why they couldn't have that expectation when the coaching staff has that expectation for them."

The Pirates forfeited most matches at heavyweight last season but coach Hitchen said there is a battle for the spot this season.

"We have Jacob Oien or A.J. Biermaier at the heavyweight position, but nobody picked yet," said Hitchen. "They are battling for that spot and pushing each other."

Hitchen said there are also battles at the 170 and 182 positions with the biggest question mark at 120 pounds.

"Our expectations are higher than last year," he said. "You never know year to year, but the only way to go is up and get better. If we work hard every day they will see results."

Hitchen is joined on the coaching staff by longtime assistant Murray Tiedemann, 2006 CHS grad Wes Hanson and 2007 grad Chris Dufault.

Hitchen said it's too difficult to tell if the Pirates will be more geared toward dual success or tournament success.

"It's too hard to tell at this point," he said. "Half the battle is to fill a full lineup. We'll excel in the individual part, but I think the team will get stronger as the season progresses."

Hitchen closed his comments with a saying he heard from Pirate Boys' Hockey head coach Jon Bittner, "shoot for the stars, don't just settle for the moon."