The Ottawa High School wrestling team is looking to finish strong. The Cyclones have put together some good regular seasons the past few years, but stumbled at the regional tournament.
“There is not a person in the room who has been to the state tournament,” Ottawa coach Joe Tokarz said. “I would really like to see some of these guys take that next step and at least qualify for state.”
Seniors Cale Paquette and Hunter Peoples were a match away from qualifying last year.
“You would love to see them make it in,” Tokarz said.
The Cyclone open the season Saturday at the Wamego Invitational, which is a pool dual format.
Ottawa is fighting the numbers game again this year.
“We may have bigger numbers, but I don’t know if our depth will be better,” Tokarz said. “I don’t know if we can fill out a full lineup.”
The coach said a couple of wrestlers could miss the whole season because of injuries. Tokarz also has 10 freshmen and other inexperienced wrestlers.
“We had five people at practice the other day with any varsity experience,” Tokarz said. “We have a handful of seniors this year.”
The seniors are Alec Chenault, Conner Gross, Mickey Jensen, Paquette and Peoples. Chenault is new to the school this year. Tokarz said he is fitting in well with the Cyclones.
“Those [other] four have Ottawa varsity experience,” Tokarz said. “Hunter added quite a bit of weight this summer. He is looking to advance in weight class quite a bit.”
Other returners with varsity experience are Brandin Bell, Sam Carver, Brandon Nanninga, Caleb Parenti, Dalton Weidl and Franklin Windler.
“Three or four of them have opportunities they need to take advantage of,” Tokarz said.
Ottawa added a new tournament to the schedule. Ottawa will participate in the Clearwater Tournament in January. It took the place of the Prairie View Tournament.
Tokarz hopes the schedule allows Ottawa wrestlers to see some of the regional schools. Ottawa was assigned to the Tonganoxie regional, which features several Kansas City area schools along with Atchison and league foes.
“The issues we have, if you are not that elite wrestler, it is tough to get seeds at regional seeding meeting,” Tokarz said.
Ottawa will have back-to-back home dates in December. Ottawa wrestles duals with Tonganoxie and Santa Fe Trail on Dec. 13. The five seniors will be honored that night.
Two days later, the Cyclones participate in the OHS Invitational.
The Frontier League tourney will be in Ottawa in February.
“It will be a neat thing,” Tokarz said.
Former Cyclone standout Casey Black returns as an assistant coach.
“Casey is fantastic,” Tokarz said. “He was missed when he was gone. Casey is a great practice partner for our heavier kids. His ability to share is fantastic.”
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