Nathan Day thinks he has a good group, but thinks it is much too early to know just how good.
The longtime Battery Creek High School wrestling coach, back for a second consecutive year as head coach after a couple of years' hiatus, voted his team fifth in Class 2-A/1-A in a preseason questionnaire mailed by the S.C. Wrestling Coaches Association.
His peers disagreed.
The Dolphins will start the season at the end of November ranked No. 1 by vote of the state's coaches. The first polls were released Oct. 17.
"It's good for the kids, gives them a goal to work towards," Day said. "It makes it tougher on us to motivate them throughout the year. If they get their behind beat a couple times early, that might be a little motivation for them."
Among the other area teams, Beaufort High School is ranked No. 9 in Class 4-A and Bluffton High School just behind at No. 10. Hilton Head Island High School is ranked No. 14 in Class 3-A, and Whale Branch Early College High School is ranked 20th in Class 2-A/1-A.
Beaufort High and Bluffton each return three state qualifiers. Whale Branch also returns three state qualifiers, including defending heavyweight champion Max Ford. Two state qualifiers are back for Hilton Head High.
Battery Creek returns 27 from a team that finished 32-14 and fifth in Class 2-A/1-A. Among those returning is senior Isaiah Sloan, who will be the defending state champion at 195 pounds. State qualifiers Joseph Cuevas, Brian LaBean and Jonathan Wright are also back.
Day said sophomores Porter Mahan and Malik Morgan should be ready for big years, as well as junior Caleb Weaver, who missed almost all of his sophomore season with an injury. Senior Braden Smith, a defending Regon 6-AA champion, also will look at qualifying for state.
The early top ranking placed the Dolphins ahead of defending champion Bamberg-Ehrhardt -- ranked third to start the new season -- and state runner-up Liberty, which is ranked second.
Day said any of the teams in the top five to start the season have the capability to win state duals in February.
"It's good to have a chance," Day said. "But if one or two kids go down to injury or one or two decide they don't want to do it this year, if they're the right one or two, that could really hurt a team in a dual match."
Battery Creek will host the Class 2-A/1-A Lower State Duals on Feb. 8. Day plans to recognize the school's state championship wrestling teams and welcome back all of his individual champions.
S.C. Wrestling Coaches Association Preseason Top 20
2. Rock Hill
5. Fort Mill
7. Fort Dorchester
8. White Knoll
9. Beaufort High
11. Boiling Springs
13. Dutch Fork
16. South Pointe
17. Cane Bay
18. Ashley Ridge
2. Belton-Honea Path
14. Hilton Head High
15. North Myrtle Beach
19. Myrtle Beach
20. St. James
1. Battery Creek
5. Indian Land
14. Lake City
20. Whale Branch