All-state returners will help keep CHS on course

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Central program has been making steady progress under coach Josh Crowell.

Before Central's contingent began wrestling at the state meet last year, Tigers coach Josh Crowell said simply qualifying for the meet would not be enough for his team any more.

Central came back with two all-state finishes.

Now the Tigers can dream bigger for the 2006-07 season, which begins for them Saturday at the Fort Zumwalt North tournament.

Jackson will open the area wrestling slate tonight with a dual at New Madrid County Central.

"We've kind of built it up where we're competitive at every tournament, we have winning seasons and success at the state meet," Crowell said. "It's up to them to try to keep it even higher and not let the work of the past go by the wayside."

The two all-state wrestlers are back for their senior seasons along with another state meet veteran. Garrett New and Tyler Yeargain each posted sixth-place finishes at the state meet. Matt Latham finished 1-2 there. All three wrestlers will be trying to get to Columbia, Mo., for the third straight year.

New, Yeargain and Latham are three of Central's five seniors this season. Matt Smith and James Coonce are the other seniors on the roster. The Tigers also return three sophomores with varsity experience -- Zach Wilson, Ryan Wachter and Shawn Hammock.

Wrestlers like New, Yeargain and Latham represented the first group of seniors who started in Central's Junior High program, which got its start under Crowell. Now the program is helping to produce varsity-ready talent such as Wilson, Wachter and Hammock.

"With those kids, we're pretty much clicking on all cylinders bringing them into the high school level," Crowell said. "A lot of those freshmen were able to step in at the high school level [last year] and help the team more than they would have in the past."

Much will be expected of Central's three returning state qualifiers.

"They also know they have targets on their backs," Crowell said. "We've talked about not resting on our laurels. They know they have to work even harder than they have in the past."

The Tigers will again host the Tiger Classic on Dec. 15 and 16, and they will compete in several new tournaments this season.

Crowell knows the road to becoming a state power is a long one, though, and there is still plenty of road to cover.

"We're still going in the right direction, but there's still a long way to go," Crowell said. "As far as the team concept, we like having individuals finish all-state, but we'd like to get in the top 10 as a team and shoot for a state championship.

"Each year, the program's getting a little better, but there's still a long way to go. By no means do we think we're there. We have to keep pushing the kids."

Jackson in rare spot

Jackson's powerhouse wrestling program finds itself in a rare situation this year without a single returning state qualifier. The Indians sent five seniors to the state meet last year and brought home an undefeated state champion for the second straight year with Kamden Rampley's victory at 215 pounds.

Jamie Schumacher and Justin Miller, both juniors, qualified for the state meet as freshmen but did not make the trip last year. Senior Luke Rayburn is also among the varsity wrestlers returning.

"We're kind of heading into a challenging year this year," Jackson coach Steve Wachter said. "This is my first time in 25 years as a head coach and assistant I haven't had a state qualifier or state placer returning. It will be a challenge, but the kids are sure attempting to meet that challenge."

Others returning include senior Bryan Sladek, senior Ben Wood, senior Will Perry, junior Kyle Brown, junior Demarcus Huddleston, sophomore Blake Peiffer, sophomore David Martin and sophomore Doug Froemsdorf. Miller finished 36-15 last year but failed to advance out of the regional.

"Most of the kids have seen some good competition over the years," Wachter said. "Seeing competition and going against competition isn't really a problem. We just have to elevate to that competition level."

Much of that good competition comes inside Jackson's own wrestling room. The Jackson junior varsity program has not lost a dual meet in 15 years, a streak of 143 matches. How some of those wrestlers make the adjustment to full varsity seasons this year could go a long way in continuing Jackson's place among the top programs in the state.

"Nobody's really proven themselves," Wachter said of his team. "So they have a lot of proving to do if they want to make their marks."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: