Wrestlers ready to hit the mats at Wamego tournament
When the De Soto Wildcats hit the mats Saturday, they will have more wrestlers than in past years. The team will also be young but coach Shannon Sawner said despite its youth and inexperience, the squad was ready.
“We look pretty solid,” Sawner said. “And our numbers are up.”
The Wildcats open their season at 9 a.m. Saturday at Wamego. De Soto will compete in a round-robin tournament. Concordia, Herrington and Salina Central are in De Soto’s bracket and Topeka-Seaman, Silver Lake, Chase County and Topeka-Hayden are the other schools competing at the tournament.
Last year De Soto tied with Hayden for ninth-place, and De Soto hopes to improve on that mark this year. One advantage that De Soto has going into the season is that it has more participants than in past years. Sawner said the team could be at least two deep in each weight class and could be as many as four or five deep in some weight classes.
De Soto will look to its three seniors to get the team off to a good start this year. But none of the seniors have wrestled in a match for Sawner, so Saturday will be the first time he has seen many of his squad wrestle competitively.
One senior, Todd Atchison, has been strong the first few weeks of practice.
“I like the way he’s working so far,” Sawner said.
Atchison could be counted on to help replace last year’s top wrestlers, Cameron Magdaleno and Demitirs Hall. Both wrestlers are not with the team this year because they moved away for family reasons.
De Soto will also look to returning veterans Sam Price, Don Parr, Caleb Adkins, Josh Below, Brandon Vukus and Mark England to provide leadership and put points up on the board this year. De Soto also has more than 20 freshmen out this year and Sawner is looking forward to seeing how they will compete.
“It’ll be interesting,” he said.
After the tournament at Wamego, the Wildcats will return home Tuesday night for a dual against powerhouse Santa Fe Trail.
“They’re usually one of the top teams in the state,” Sawner said. “They gave us a pretty good thumping last year.”
After the Santa Fe dual, the Wildcats will battle in the Eudora Tournament of Champions Dec. 12 and 13. Sawner said he liked the two-day tournament because it would give his team an opportunity to face some tough competition.
“I like the format,” he said. “I like the fact that we’re going up against some of the top 4A teams in the state. I’m excited.
“I like that we have to wake up and do it again the next day. It can be kind of a mental pull.”
Sawner also said the tournament could help prepare his young squad for the state tournament, which also takes place over two days.