The wrestling season opened earlier this month and, once again, the cream of the crop seems to be coming out of the tough Henlopen Conference.

While Caesar Rodney, Smyrna and Sussex Central have emerged as early favorites, the Sussex Tech Ravens are aiming to join that group with a solid season on the mats.

As their dual-meet schedule kicks off, Tech will turn to their experienced core of seniors to pull the majority of the weight.

Sussex Tech head coach Scott Layfield says they’re hoping to build off of the senior leadership that the team is lucky enough to have in returning fourth-year grapplers Trey Hatfield, Andrew Hawkins and Jamie Schirmer.

“They’re all state place winners and great leaders and young men,” Layfield said. “They all have potential to win conference and state titles. More important is the example they provide to our younger guys.”

Layfield added that fellow returnees, juniors Mason Rolph and Roberto Santos, continue to improve each day and have also provided leadership.

Along with the team’s returning upperclassmen, Tech has underclassmen back in the fold taking on new roles and newcomers looking to earn spots.

“Hunter Ruff, Chase Flood, Parker Selzer, Seth Layfield and Daniel Alvarez are starters now, bringing some varsity experience from last year,” Layfield said. “We have three freshmen in the varsity lineup, Isaac Soto, Evan Broomall and Josh Negron. They have two varsity tournaments under their belts so far and they’re very coachable and want to improve daily.”

The group opened their season earlier this month in the Polytech Invitational, then in the Delmar Wrestling Invitational, taking first place overall.

Four Sussex Tech wrestlers took first place, including Rolph at 120, Hatfield at 170, Hawkins at 220 and Schirmer at 285.

Meanwhile, Santos took second at 138 and three Tech grapplers took third, Ruff at 113, Flood at 132 and Negron at 160.

This weekend, the Ravens will take part in the Battle at the Beach at Indian River High School before resuming their dual-meet schedule at Smyrna Thursday, Jan. 3.