The wrestling mats at Tyler Consolidated High School have been busier than ever with 19 wrestlers preparing for the upcoming season.
Head coach Chad Snider and assistant coach Steve Blake are excited about the season and have high expectations for their squad of five seniors, five juniors, one sophomore, and eight freshmen. With a strong middle school program in place, experienced wrestlers returning, and some good natural instinct, the Silver Knight squad looks to do good things this year.
"This will be one of our first years with such a large freshman group with experience," said Snider, referring to the fundamental training the youngsters received at the middle school level. "It's nice to be able to teach things to a group that already has good instincts on the mat. Of course, it can also work against us, because now we'll also be working to break bad habits."
Silver Knight wrestlers - 2012/13
Returning for their senior season with the team are Raphe Bailes, 145 lbs.; Dustin Tawney, 195 lbs.; Joe Henthorn, 126 lbs.; Jay Earley, 195 lbs.; and Hunter LeMasters, 152 lbs.
These seniors should stand out among the rest of the team not only as leaders but as the ones with the most experience on the mats, with high expectations themselves. Tawney returns with four years under his belt and though Henthorn has three years with the wrestling squad, including a trip to states his sophomore year, he sat out most of last year with an injury.
Juniors out for the team include Jerrod Longwell, 113 lbs.; Josh Ruble, 145 lbs.; Ryley Warner, 195 lbs.; Mert Coskun, 152 lbs.; and Caroline Bantug, 126 lbs.
Cody Patterson, wrestling at 113, lbs., will be the lone sophomore on the team.
Freshmen new to the varsity level for the 2012-13 season will be Tyler Johnson, 106, lbs.; Marcus Nichols, 152 lbs.; Austin Spencer, 285 lbs.; William Chapman, 138 lbs.; Zach Bonner, 106 lbs.; Nathan Eddy, 220 lbs.; Chase Cooper, 126 lbs.; and Bobby Dennis, 120 lbs.
The stat girls working with the team this year will be seniors Katie Smith and Victoria Shepherd and sophomore, Marisa Gogan.
Regardless if a trip to the state championships in February are in the cards or not for these wrestlers, Coach Snider says it is time the squad got a little more involved in weight training.
"I have decided this year that I want the wrestlers to weight train more than we have in the past," he said. "I don't know what occurred that made lifting in the off season so unpopular, but we have a shortage of athletes, not just wrestlers, dedicating themselves to the weight room. For wrestling, and many other sports, weight training should be a main staple. We plan to implement more weight bearing activities into every practice."
"Strength can be a determining factor of a win or loss in many matches."
Snider says that he expects this year to be one where he and the team measure their success by improvements, rather than individual matches won.
"But our future is looking brighter," he said.
On Dec. 15 the Silver Knights will host their annual "Wrestle-A-Bout" tournament at home, but have plans to make a few changes in the popular tournament, including the name.
The only other individual to ever coach the Silver Knight wrestlers besides Snider, Larry Richie, retired from teaching in 2010 and passed away on June 14. In special memory of the man and what he meant to the wrestling program, the tournament name will be changed to "The Larry Richie Memorial Tourn-ament".
Richie, a favorite teacher and beloved coach, began a wrestling program at Sistersville High School and carried it over to the new Tyler Consolidated High School in 1994. He was a long time columnist for the Tyler Star News and his "Mat Chat" column was widely popular, always signing off with his philosophy of life, "wrestle for fun".
Having coached Snider himself, it is only fitting that the tournament be named for Coach Richie.
"We have got the approval from the Richie family to change the name of our annual 'Wrestle-A-Bout' to the 'The Larry Richie Memorial Tourna-ment'," Snider said. "Mr. Richie was the wrestling program here at Tyler Consolidated and we want to make sure his memory lives on."
The tournament will begin at 10 a.m. on Dec. 15.
"This is a good tournament for the kids because every athlete gets at least a few matches," Coach Snider said. "We run it pool-style so that this can occur. This is the largest tournament we run each year so we're hoping that the fans come out to support us."
The Silver Knight wrestlers will begin their season tonight at River High School. The team will see action in the Ritchie County tournament on Dec. 7-8 and will host their first home meet of the year on Dec. 12 in a Triangular with Magnolia.