MARINETTE — The math works this season for the Marinette wrestling team.

Having a senior-free roster for the 2017-18 season means the Marines have no subtractions, but only additions for 2018-19 and coach Jason Champagne said the team is in better shape than it was at this time last year.

“We had a group that was junior- and freshman-heavy,” Champagne said. “We’re definitely ahead of schedule from where we were to start last season. We have some sensational freshmen and I think they’ve given us more balance.”

Marinette finished fifth in the WIAA Division 2 regional at Seymour and had two wrestlers advance to sectional competition. Sean Holk and Reece Holder both return for their senior season, seeking to increase their career win totals. Holder won the 220 division in the regional and was one win short of reaching the state final to join Holk, who advanced in the 182 division but was eliminated in the opening round.

This year the question changes from whether the Marines will advance a wrestler to the state final, to how many Marines will reach, Champagne said.

“There are probably 6-7 kids I could say have a legitimate shot (at state qualifying) by the end of the year,” he said. “What that will boil down to is whether they’re putting in the necessary time to get there.”

Holk and Holder combined for over 60 wins last season; now they’re leading a senior group that accounts for roughly half of this year’s roster. Sam Gressel (138), Sam McClain (160), Dillon Hill (182) and Anthony Jardeen (195) also are back for their senior season.

Josh Goslyn (152) is the team’s lone junior; Domenic Paradiso (145/152), Alec Queever (126) and O.J. Suennen (120) are sophomores. Marinette also has five freshmen who provide the balance Champagne referred to.

Jon Bieber (113/120), Shane Daigneault (106/113), Darik McMahon (285), Isaiah Walker (132) and Josh Walker (145) are in their first full year of varsity competition. And while Champagne said some wrestlers may change weight classes as the season progresses, he’s already pleasantly surprised with what the newcomers have contributed.

“McMahon has filled that heavyweight role so we weren’t in need of another big guy,” Champagne said. “The freshmen have helped round-out the team.”

Champagne’s claim was substantiated in the Kimberly Invitational last week, when the Marines managed a third-place finish in the team standings. He said that high of a finish wouldn’t have been likely, had Marinette entered the same event last season.

“We finished ahead of some really big Division 1 schools,” he said. “For us to go to an event like that and take third, with only three weeks of practice in, was great. We wouldn’t have fared as well in this tournament last year.”

Champagne said some upcoming meets will provide a better idea of where the Marinette wrestling program is and if they’ve improved since their finish at Kimberly.

“We’re going to the Northern Exposure event in Merrill and we’ll be seeing one of the best Division 1 teams in the state — Kaukauna,” he said. “And a lot of good schools will be at Wisconsin Rapids and we’ll get a gauge of where we are for sure.”