SUMNER — Wins didn’t happen very often for the S-E-M Mustangs last season.
They beat one-win Red Cloud and winless Elba in December, then didn’t beat anybody besides Eustis-Farnam the rest of the year.
A second win over Eustis-Farnam gave the Mustangs four wins last year to go with 15 losses. But four starters are back and the Mustangs have their sights set on more victories this year.
“We still have a young team, but our younger guys got a lot of varsity experience last year that should lead to more wins,” said S-E-M coach Darby Line, who is headed into his seventh season at the helm..
Carson Rohde, a 6-2 junior post player tops the list of returning starters. He earned second-team All-Fort Kearny Conference honors after averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds per game last season.
Also back are 6-2 senior post Parker Smith, 5-10 junior guard Noah Bidland and 5-10 sophomore guard Tucker Whitesel.
“We also have a strong freshman class that with hard work could see some varsity minutes,” Line said.
The Mustangs will learn a lot about their team early as they play Fort Kearny Conference favorites Loomis and Elm Creek during the first two weekends.
The S-E-M girls took their lumps early on last year, starting the season with seven straight losses. The Mustangs rebounded to finish the year 8-14.
With four returning starters, and four other letterwinners back from last season, the Mustangs feel good about their chances this year.
In addition, the Mustangs will field one of the taller teams in the region with two six-footers on the roster.
Starters returning are 5-8 senior center/forward Sarah Glatter, 5-7 senior center/forward Sidney Ripp, 6-0 senior center Ashley Schroeder and 5-6 sophomore guard Abbie Rohde.
Other letterwinners on the squad are 5-4 senior Faith Whitesel, 5-10 senior Jennifer Guerra, 6-0 senior Audrey Reiter and 5-5 sophomore Mattison Beattie.
S-E-M opens the season Dec. 6 at home against Wilcox-Hildreth.
The S-E-M Mustangs were absent from last year’s state wrestling tournament, failing to qualify any wrestlers for the big meet in Omaha. It capped a tough year for the Mustangs, who finished 14th in the 15-team field at the Fort Kearny Conference/Twin Valley Conference Tournament.
But first-year coach Jake Padrnos brings his enthusiasm into his new coaching position.
“The team is predominantly underclassmen with only one senior,” Padrnos said. “The focus for this season is to get the returning wrestlers and the new additions to the team lots of mat time and to improve throughout the year.”
Four lettermen return for the Mustangs — sophomore Reece Jones (132 pounds), senior Cody Hollibaugh (152), sophomore Ashton Nichols (152) and sophomore Brendan Hall (195).
The S-E-M wrestlers travel to the Elwood Invitational on Dec. 6 to open the season.