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by Mark Cheffey
While the numbers are small, the new coaches of the PHS boys and girls wrestling team are excited about the coming season.
The boys team has eight athletes and the girls team has seven, but Dalton Huffman, boys coach and Isaac Williamson, girls coach, both of whom have wrestling backgrounds, see quality in the numbers.
“All our boys and girls are very talented. We don’t have the numbers, but we do have talent all around,” said Huffman.
“The athletes we have out now are extraordinary,” Williamson said.
The boys team includes seniors, Talon Markley and Cameron Ragar; juniors, Landon Carroll, Luke Lawson and Brayden Pillars; sophomores, Kevin Gosney and Tyler Spicknall, and freshman, Ace Harper.
Lawson took sixth place at state, while Pillars qualified for state but was unable to compete.
The girls team includes one junior, Elly Lorenson, who took second at state as a sophomore last year.
She’s joined by sophomores, Summer Gollahar, Aira Hamilton and Janie Triplett, and freshmen, Amanda Geist, Kyndal Wilt and Aleecia Webster.
Meanwhile, many members of both teams came into high school wrestling with experience through the local youth program.
“The youth club is doing a great job of setting the foundation and with instilling the basics,” Huffman said.
While reviewing the basics is important to the two coaches, they indicated they are able to concentrate on conditioning and polishing technique.
Additional focus for both coaches is helping the wrestlers get off the bottom
“I preach at every practice to explode off the bottom,” Williamson said. “Your first movement should be fast and explosive.”
Huffman agreed that explosiveness is key.
““We’ve got to be a lot more explosive,” he said. “We don’t need to know a thousand moves. We need to perfect two or three and let that take us to state.”
Conditioning is also paramount to both coaches, who said matches will not be lost due to being tired.
“We will be in shape,” Huffman said. “We will wrestle great, phenomenally all the way to overtime if we have too.”
Low numbers will present a challenge when it comes to winning duals, tri-meets and quads, but both teams are aided by the fact that all the wrestlers are spread out over the weight categories, with no overlap.
“The guys are going to have to step up, and the girls are going to have to step up,” Huffman said.
Both coaches wrestled in their early years and still maintain a strong enthusiasm of the sport.
Huffman said he started as an eighth grader at Hannibal, but bounced back and fourth between wrestling and basketball until he figured out the mats were better for him than the hardwood.
He qualified for state his senior year but was hampered by a case of shingles.
Williamson got his start as a fourth grader in Illinois and competed at state as an eighth grader before competing in high school where injuries hampered his progress, as his direction after high school, like Huffman, became football at Culver-Stockton College.
“I kept up with the sport overall,” Williamson said. “It’s definitely a sport I really cherish and enjoy.”
In looking at the upcoming schedule, Huffman points to a number of key events including the home opener Dec. 7, and the Katy Trail Tournament Dec. 15-16 as well as the Kirksville Dual that leads into district tournament.
The girls actually open first this Saturday at the Wright City Tournament, while the boys open at the Francis Howell Quad, Nov. 30.
11/30 at FHN Quad
12/7 Palmyra Meet
12/9 Wentzville Tourn.
12/15-16 at Sedala Tourn.
1/4 Palmyra Quad
1/6 at Vianny Tourn.
1/8 at Hannibal Tri.
1/10 at Moberly Tri.
1/12-13 QHS Tournament
1/20 at Brook. Tourn.
1/25 at Macon Quad
1/27 at QND Tourn.
2/1 at Kirk. Dual
2/16-17 Districts TBA
2/21-22 State (Columbia)
11/18 atWright City Tour.
11/30 at FHN Quad
12/7 Palmyra Dual
12/15-16 at Sedalia Tourn.
1/4 CCC meet Palmyra
1/8 at Hannibal Dual
1/15 at Mexico Tourn.
1/19 atBrookfield Tourn.
1/25 at Macon Quad
2/1 at Kirksville Dual
2/9-10 Districts TBA
2/21-22 State Columbia