Small but mighty group with Tonganoxie wrestlers
Ross Starcher’s second edition of the Tonganoxie High wrestling team is expected to be a competitive one.
Starcher, the former THS standout who served six years as an assistant coach, enters his second season as the head wrestling coach.
The Chieftains have 18 wrestlers out this year, four of whom qualified for state as freshmen last year.
State returners Patterson Starcher, Gad Huseman, Aiden McClellan and Devin Duncan are back for their sophomore seasons. State qualifiers Garrett Martin and Dalton Tavis were seniors last year. Asher Huseman, a state runner-up as a junior, had his senior year cut short last year due to a knee injury.
Starcher said the squad has hit the mats running in the 2015-16 preseason.
“It’s good,” Starcher said. “These kids have been coming and busting it.”
The team has been on two-a-day practice schedule in the preseason, with the wrestlers lifting and running from 6-7 a.m. before school and then regular practice from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the afternoon.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids,” Starcher said. “These guys get along really well. They’re fun to be around.”
Marcus Barnes is Tonganoxie’s lone senior this season.
Juniors are Cole Waters, George Lang, Jay Willcutt, Andrew Dent and Cody Knight.
Sophomores joining Huseman, McClellan, Duncan and Patterson Starcher are Caden Searcy and Justin Hand. This year’s freshmen class members are Chris Botkin, Korbin Rediel, Dawson Bennett, Kolton McCury, Dalton Hull and Austin Lang.
The Chieftains again won’t have wrestlers in the top three heaviest weight divisions.
“We’re down 18-0 walking into a dual, but we can run the table from 6 to 82,” Ross Starcher said, referring to wrestlers in the other weight classes, from 106 to 182.
Starcher noted that 182 also was the team’s heaviest weight last year and the team still went 3-1 in duals.
He looks for Mill Valley and Basehor to be at the top of the league, with Mill Valley ranked in Class 5A and Basehor-Linwood in 4A.
“Our league is tough,” he said.
Assisting Starcher this year is Matt Brock, another standout as a THS wrestler.
The Chieftains had their Red White Scrimmage on Tuesday and then competes Thursday
The team opens the season at 6 p.m. Thursday with a dual in Holton.
THS then competes at 9 a.m. Saturday in Wamego. Tonganoxie takes on Hayden, Ottawa, Abilene, Chase County, Concordia, Herington, Rock Creek and Salina Central, along with host Wamego at the invitational.