Fans of the Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus Road Crew wrestling team will have plenty of chances to watch their team compete with four home matches, including three in Pine River, during the regular season.

The Road Crew will also be hosting for the Mid-State Conference meet Jan. 24 and the Section 8-2A meet Feb. 21-22, both taking place at Pequot Lakes High School Sports Complex.

“We are also looking forward to hosting the Mid-State tournament and section Individuals (for the first time in recent years),” said Road Crew head coach Travis Hoffarth. “We are excited about the opportunity to have kids compete in front of a large home crowd on one of the bigger stages of the season.”

It also helps that the Road Crew will have a veteran lineup taking the mat this winter with 21 letterwinners back from a squad that finished 4-1 in the conference and 18-10 overall. Those wrestlers are Chance Abraham, James Cummings, Logan Mejdrich, Riley Peters, Brady Ruhl, Payton Scott, Grant Thompson, Max Trumpold, Wyatt Bean, Trey Tuchtenhagen, Matthew Foster, Finnegan O’Dell, Corbin Knapp, Austin Staricha, Owen Carlson, Caleb Ruhl, Connor Tulenchik, Josh Pettit, Jake Poehler, Evan Koering and Keenan Dahl.

Last year as a freshman, Tulenchik qualified for state as an individual after winning his true second match at 138 pounds at the section meet. Finishing fourth at sections were Poehler, Ruhl, Koering, Dahl and Pettit.

“We are excited about this season,” Hoffarth said. “We have a lot of experienced wrestlers, and feel we are set up to be successful. If we can avoid the injury bug, and focus on the things we can control like work ethic both in the classroom and on the practice mat, we will be fun to watch. We have a chance of being a top four team in the section, with Perham and Detroit Lakes being the early favorites.

Others who could contribute are brothers Karsen and Kory Kinyoh.

“We’re excited to add a few new faces,” Hoffarth said. “Karsen and Kory will add some much needed depth and experience after moving here from Michigan at the beginning of the school year.”

Hoffarth, who is starting his 10th season with the Road Crew, has compiled a 151-69 overall coaching record. Assistant coaches are Tom Demars, Justin Franke and Pat Foster.

The Road Crew were scheduled to open the regular season at Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale Dec. 3. The section final-four team tournament is Feb. 14 at Perham. The state meet is Feb. 27-29 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Last year in section team competition, Pierz rallied to win the final three matches and defeated the Road Crew 40-29 in the quarterfinals.