The area high school wrestling teams are all facing different challenges this season.
Wellsville is trying to replace some of the best wrestlers in the state. Central Heights is attempting to get its wrestlers to win that elusive match to propel them to the state tournament.
Anderson County has a new coach, again.
For the fifth consecutive year, there is a new wrestling coach at Anderson County. The Bulldogs’ new coach Jason Brown vows that he is here for the long haul. He clearly has a nice coaching background.
Brown grew up in Pratt before going to wrestle in junior college and for Fort Hays State from 1996 to 1998. He spent the first four years of his teaching and wrestling coaching career at Manhattan High School then moved to Sabetha, where he was the head coach from 2004 until last year.
In that time, he coached 37 wrestlers to the state tournament, including 13 who placed in the top six and five who wrestled in the championship match.
When the school districts in that area consolidated last year, Brown decided to look elsewhere for employment. Sabetha’s loss looks to be Anderson County’s gain.
The Bulldogs have 27 wrestlers on the team, including eight returning lettermen. They should be able to fill all but one or two of the 14 weight classes.
The top returners include 182-pound junior Lee Cook, 138-pound junior Ryan Alley, 126-pound senior Raymond Head, senior Steven Kauffman (145) and junior Dallas Cox (170).
“With all the turnover in the program, they have had a hard time believing they can be competitive. My goal is to make them understand that can compete at the state level, and that they should not accept defeat,” Brown said.
Anderson County opens its season today at Fort Scott.
It was a season of near misses for the Vikings last year with four wrestlers going 3-2 at the regional tournament and falling one win short of qualifying for state.
But veteran coach Randy Hinderliter is still proud of what his team accomplished last season, especially their 13-1 record in duals.
“We didn’t fill every weight class last year, so the key was dominating the matches that you do win. Pin fall points were the key,” Hinderliter said.
Central Heights has just 12 wrestlers on the team this year and will fill just 10 of the 14 weight classes.
Senior heavyweight Jake Green, a three-time lettermen, is ready for a big season. An illness kept him from competing last year at the regional, so he anxious to qualify for state this season.
The other returners are sophomore Eli Davis (220), sophomore James Anderson (195), senior Dillion Schwab (182), junior J.R. Dunnivan (170), junior Kaleb Grimsley (160), senior Dustin Asbury (138) and sophomore Donavan Milliken (132).
The past few seasons the Wellsville Eagles had some talented wrestlers that were basically assured to reach the finals of any tournament.
There are three ex-Eagles wrestling at the collegiate level.
Fourth-year coach Andy Wright does not have a returning state championship-caliber wrestler, but does does have a solid squad of 16 wrestlers. Most can be counted on score points in every tournament.
The Eagles should fill 10 of the 14 weight classes with most of their vacancies at the heavier weight classes.
Wellsville’s only senior is Erica Sweeney (106 pounds). Wright feels she has a good chance to be his first female wrestler to qualify for the state tournament. She wrestled extensively this summer with an all-female club team.
The Eagles’ other four returning lettermen are sophomore Colton Cisneros (113), who was just one win short of the state tournament last year; junior Daegan Asebedo (152), junior Michael Kunard (138) and junior Drake Williams (132).
Wright had high praise for Kunard and Williams, calling them team leaders. The both spent the summer attending wrestling camps.
Wellsville has nine freshmen, who all have experience wrestling in the middle school program.
Wright said these young wrestlers are the core of Wellsville’s future success.
The Eagles’ early schedule will be tough as they will face challenging tournament fields at both the Atchison County and Eudora tournaments.
The Eagles open their season today at home against Atchison.
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