For the most part, building up wrestling basics will be at the heart of the Hillsboro Trojans program this season.
“We have a young and very inexperienced team this year,” coach Scott O’Hare said. “We’re looking for ways and working on drills to help improve and increase the learning curve.”
Along with assistant coaches Terach Antoine and Seth Shields, O’Hare has been going back to bread and butter basics.
“We’re looking at fundamentals a lot.” O’Hare said. “We don’t throw too much in at once or overwhelm the team.”
Coaches have been breaking down basic moves, working on transitional combinations, showing the basics of body positions, teaching common situations, how to recover from bad positions, and explaining how to get into scoring positions, he said.
“Much of the team did not come up through the Kids Wrestling program,” O’Hare said. “Our numbers are down too, maybe the smallest we have ever had, which is partially because a couple classes have had very few boys in them.”
With 12 on the team, seven of which are underclassmen, and many bunching up at similar weights, O’Hare hopes to fill 10 of the 14 weight classes.
He said some wrestlers are still learning how to cut weight to achieve weights coaches believe they can attain healthily.
However, giving up team points potentially for four weight classes, team wins might be hard to achieve, thus shifting expectations from team to individual achievements.
“It’s going to struggle as a dual team,” he said. “We’re hoping to get kids into finals at tournaments.”
Still, O’Hare said, the team aspect of the grueling sport is important.
“It’s a grind,” he said. “It’s good to have other people going through the same thing as a support mechanism.”
Coaches will be leaning on senior Travis King and junior Jaden Priest to lead the team.
King is the only returning wrestler who has competed two state tournaments.
“Travis will be a core leader,” O’Hare said. “Travis is easily our most experienced wrestler. He is extremely strong, very dedicated, and he pushes hard in practice.”
With just a year-a-half of experience, Priest’s work ethic and willingness to listen and learn will be a model for younger wrestlers, too, O’Hare said.
Freshman Raymond Johnston may be one to watch, O’Hare said.
“He’s got natural skill and athleticism and picks up on technique well,” O’Hare said. “He was undefeated last year as an eighth-grader, and qualified for state in the 14-and-under division. He’s wrestled some good competition.”
Taryn Williams of Canton-Galva also will wrestle for the Trojans.
“It may be awkward being the only girl and the only person from a different school,” O’Hare said, “but she’s got a great attitude.”
He said Williams and many other wrestlers have displayed toughness and a desire to learn which could render some surprises this season if the team puts in the work.
“We measure success by asking ‘Are we getting better every day?’” O’Hare said. “A lot depends on how they progress.”