State qualifiers form nucleus for next season
The Tonganoxie wrestlers finished third in the Kaw Valley League, sent four wrestlers to state and finished third at their own tournament.
Bill DeWitt, Tonganoxie wrestling coach, said the season was one of the most successful in recent memory, but he has even higher expectations for next season.
"Next year the cupboard's going to be full," DeWitt said. "We should have an experienced kid at every weight class."
He points to the first dual of this season. Tonganoxie traveled to Hiawatha to wrestle Hiawatha and Royal Valley. Both teams had beaten the Chieftains soundly in previous duals.
Tonganoxie, with several freshmen wrestling their first varsity matches, competed and actually gave Hiawatha a run for its money.
Three of this season's state qualifiers will return next season. Tony Miller, 275 pounds, and Mike Andrews, 155 pounds, should provide senior leadership along with Willie Altman, 140 pounds. All three have been wrestling for Dewitt since they were freshmen.
Bruce Walker, 103 pounds, is the other state qualifier. He and the large freshman class will be expected to improve as sophomores.
Juniors Steve Adcox, 145 pounds, Pat Weyer, 160 pounds, and Josh Ferris, 119 pounds, also will be expected to contribute.
"I expect us to be one of the top teams in the league next year, and I expect us to finish high at every tournament we go to next year," DeWitt said.
To prepare, some of the team's wrestlers will be competing with the Tonganoxie Kids Wrestling Club and in free style wrestling.
DeWitt said he also expects 10 to 15 wrestlers to attend wrestling camp this summer. And, DeWitt said he plans to help with the summer weight lifting program.
The team loses seniors Chris Calovich, a two-time state qualifier, Zach Subelka and Dan Bryan.
The team should gain some wrestlers from the junior high program.
"I expect to have some good incoming freshman next year," DeWitt said.
The team has improved under DeWitt's tutelage. He and Dean Moss, assistant wrestling coach, have invested a lot in the Tonganoxie wrestlers and are beginning to see that work pay off.
"Obviously my expectations are high," he said.