JEWELL - South Hamilton will take a sense of optimism into Saturday's Class 1A sectional wrestling tournament at St. Edmond High School in Fort Dodge.
The Hawks know they have a bona fide front runner in third-ranked 132-pounder JD Rader, a two-time state place winner who has rolled through 33 matches without a defeat this season.
But head coach Dan Brodie also thinks he's got a handful of other wrestlers that can advance to districts with a top-two finish when action gets underway at noon.
"We like where our possibilities are," Brodie said of his 10-man lineup. "Not having a dual meet on Tuesday actually kind of benefited us because it allowed us to focus all week on performing on Saturday."
Rader will be a decided favorite at his weight, although it won't be a cake walk. He'll be on the opposite side of the bracket as ninth-ranked freshman Caleb Simacek of Manson-Northwest Webster. Still, the Hawk junior will take a business approach as he looks to continue his quest for a third straight state tournament appearance.
"JD understands the atmosphere of sectionals and he doesn't allow it to get to his head," Brodie said. "His approach is to obviously win, but to also improve because we're always looking to improve."
Senior Austin Roys (145) takes an impressive 30-4 mark into the postseason and classmate Josh Lutter (285) is 30-7. Fellow senior Max Reiter (160) and freshman Luke Peters (138) are 24-12 and 24-13, respectively.
Lutter advanced through the sectional a season ago - a feat Roys expects to match this weekend.
"With Austin we've been looking forward to this Saturday ever since the season started," Brodie said. "If he keeps his head on straight he should be able to get through this."
Roys will most likely butt heads with fourth-ranked Payton Rice of Manson-Northwest Webster should he advance to the finals.
Saturday's gold and silver medalists will advance to the district at Clarion-Goldfield High School in Clarion next Saturday for the chance to compete for berths in the state tournament.