Wrestling team revives their history through a champions board


Nayeon Ryu

Competing in a 2017 wrestling match, junior Reed Nenonen performs a cradle on his opponent. Nenonen went on to have a 16-10 record and advanced to conference semifinals. “All I can hope [for this season] is that I can push myself and make the team what it can be,” Nenonen said.

With a new season underway and momentum building for an expanded girls program, the wrestling team has another change coming this year: a champions board to display all of their past state qualifiers, placers and team titles. They won their first conference title in 29 years last season, and the words “Are you next?” were emblazoned on the board to set the bar high for this season as well.

“When I came here there were no records kept for state placers and things of that sort, so I thought we need to bring back the history of this program,” assistant coach Chip Allison said. “I started investigating at that time, and luckily, I’ve been around for quite a long time and am able to know a lot of people [who could give me information].”

Allison found seven state champions and six district titles that the team has won, spanning from 1971 to 1998. With this new knowledge and the conference title that the team won last season, many team members have reenergized their own goals to join the tradition of success.

“When I first started wrestling and heard [about] people going to state and what you could achieve, I wanted to be there,” junior James Griffin said. “For new wrestlers, looking at that board and seeing past people’s names–it’s like ‘I want to be on that board too.’ It would really push people to want to accomplish it.”

The champions board serves not only as a push for returning wrestlers but to draw new wrestlers to commit to the program, uphold their peers’ standards for work ethic and buy into their coaching as a proven path to success.

“It gives [new wrestlers] something to look forward to and gives them a chance to work hard for something, not just being the best wrestler on the team or something like that,” senior Jackson Barnhart said. “They’re going to come back in 10 or 20 years, and their name’s gonna be up there and everybody’s gonna be like ‘Wow.’”

The team broke the school record for most wins in a season in 2016, broke their own record last season and hope to continue upward this year. To build their success, the coaches say they only need two things from their athletes: a willingness to learn and a positive mindset.

“It’s hard to say what we really expect as far as how we’re going to do at state, districts and things like that, but as time goes on, those things will happen as long as people buy into the program. I feel like we know how to get them there, [but] we just have to keep working hard,” Allison said.

Through their new champions board, the wrestling team is reviving their history and starting their season with goals to restore the legacy and reputation that the team once held, one match at a time.

“I want to see more people going to state, and [a champions board] will be a good reminder to all the wrestlers that we’ve been a powerhouse, we’ve been a really good team, and we can bring it back even better than it was before,” Griffin said. “I really want our team to be one of those teams that other teams talk about.”