Nation Ford’s Clayton Rygol and Alan Minarro work together at a recent practice. Both upper weight guys will be leaned upon heavily for the Falcons.

With nearly half the roster back from last season, the Nation Ford Falcons wrestling team is determined to make the playoffs this season.

Head coach Tony Forte said he feels good about his team’s chances with the experience they have on the mat.

“We have got a good deal returning,” he said. “This is the first year in a while I am thinking playoffs.”

Nation Ford returns state qualifiers Clayton Rygol at 220-pounds and Caden Brandenburg at 160-pounds. Those two lead others in the Falcons line-up this season including Dalton Curtsinger (132), Isaac Nivens (170) and Alan Minarro (heavyweight).

Along with the experience the Falcons have, Forte said his team has some youth as well. With the top four in Region 3-5A making the playoffs, Nation Ford’s chances in a five-team region are favorable to make the playoffs.

“I feel pretty optimistic from an individual and team standpoint,” he said. “I feel good about all of them (his wrestlers).”

Nation Ford’s schedule won’t be easy, but it should prep them for a run at a playoff spot. The Falcons are heading to several major tournaments this season including the Southern Slam at Eastside, the Kingsley Classic at Fort Mill and the Bearcat Invitational at Rock Hill. They will also be participating in the Holy Angels tournament in Charlotte the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The Falcons are also hosting the Upper State tournament again this year at the 5A classification Feb. 18 and 19, before the state tournament returns back to Anderson Civic Center Feb. 25 and 26.

Nation Ford will open the season this year hosting a tri-match Wednesday, Dec. 1 against Catawba Ridge and Andrew Jackson.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep