Graplers mostly new
Marion High School wrestling team has six members this year, most of them new to the team.
Head wrestling coach Tyler McMichael said the top returning competitor is Chance Shults, a junior who returns to the team this year.
“Chance Shults is our leader in the room and has a great opportunity to grow on last season,” McMichael said. “With hard work, he should have a great season.”
The team is made up of 113-pound freshman Kellen Waner, 132/138-pound junior Chance Shults, 220-pound sophomore Kayden Nelson, 220-pound freshman Jackson Bitonti, 182-pound freshman Brian Nguyen, and 138/145-pound Gilbert Ramirez.
Most are new to the sport this year, and all were members of the football team.
A few are out to help with flexibility, hip movement, and footwork, McMichael said.
“Wrestling is a great pairing with other sports because it helps to develop all of those skills and even advance them,” he said.
“This year we are starting from the ground up with the majority of our team, getting those new faces to understand the sport and learn the basics is our major focus,” he said.
“Since most of our team are freshman or new wrestlers, they have all shown tremendous growth in the first week of practice,” McMichael said.
Coming into a sport that team members have barely done, or not done at all, is tough, he said.
“They are soaking up all of the things we are telling them,” McMichael said. “I am excited to see what growth we get before Christmas break.”
Freshman always face a tough season as they move from middle school up into high school. There is a huge difference in the competition level and it typically takes wrestlers a while to get used to that.
“We also have a few wrestlers who will be moving up a weight class or two from previous years, which is always a hard thing because the strength and age of opponents can be higher,” McMichael said.
So far, the team has kept up a great attitude for the tough sport and coaches push the team, the coach said.
The team looks forward to 14 meets this year.
They will compete in Burlington, Wellington, Marion County, Herington, Halstead, Eureka, Hoisington, Marion, and Douglass and Chase County.
Postseason competition will include a girls regional and boys regional, girls and boys state, and state competition, all in February.