Levi Walker (top) was James River’s top state placer last season.

The James River High School wrestling team is shaping up to be a tough squad as coach Bobby Stewart returns in his second year as head coach for the Knights mat men.

River has two returning seniors, with Ian Hester and Cory Carson leading the team as captains. Three juniors return to the squad, seven sophomores and a half dozen in the freshman class.

The Knights’ top state placer, Levi Walker, returns and will begin the year at heavyweight. He’ll be working down to the 220-pound class as the year progresses. Hester will remain at the 126-pound class and looks to make a podium placement in the state this year along with Carson, returning to the 195-pound class.

“I’m excited about what the year will hold for us,” said Stewart, a former standout wrestler at Lord Botetourt during his high school days. “We have a really strong group of guys returning to the mat. Fortunately. my sophomore and freshman class are a group of kids I’ve worked with previously through Team Botetourt wrestling club and through the middle school. My juniors are strong, seniors are strong and we’re looking to take it to some people starting this weekend.”

The James River team wrestles its first competition at the two-day Shumaker Classic at Parry McCluer High School in Buena Vista this weekend. Wrestling will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday and will begin again at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.

On Wednesday, December 5, the Knights will wrestle at Rockbridge County High School in a four-way quad beginning at 6 p.m.