By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Follow junior 152-pounder Trevor Christian if you’re on the Lebanon High School wrestling team this year.
After all, he’s a state title-seeking senior, and a brutal schedule – their veteran coach’s own words – awaits.
“He’s wanting to wrestle in college, and he’s getting letters from everywhere,” Lebanon coach Randy Roark said. “He knows he needs to step up as a senior to get more scholarship money for college.”
Christian was a state runner-up last year and headlines a roster that will count 12 returning starters among a 75-person roster, about normal for the Yellowjackets. Not normal, however, is the schedule, beefed up to combat what happened late last year.
“It was a disappointing end to last year,” Roark said. “We thought we could win conference and send to 10 state.”
Instead, the Yellowjackets finished second in both the Ozark Conference and second in district, sending six to state.
Christian is among those six returning state qualifiers and will be snarling his way through the winter – just what Roark wants for everyone else.
The schedule now includes the Park Hill Duals, Missouri Duals, Kansas City Stampede and Jefferson City High School and Lafayette High School. Roark sees no easy match at any of them.
“State will seem like a JV tournament,” Roark said, later adding, “We thought this might be a good year for us, so we improved the schedule.”
Christian and 220-pound junior Landen Smith competed for Team Missouri over the summer, with Smith winning 11 of 12 matches – an encouraging sign given he just missed out on qualifying for the state tournament.
“Once he got to high school, all that baby fat went away,” Roark said of Smith. “He’s now 220 and solid.”
Other returning state qualifiers are seniors Hogan Fisher (113), Hunter Lewis (120), Caleb Shields (160) and football quarterback Ty Glendenning (182), Race Cottongim (285) and junior Cole Roark (126).
Lewis is a three-time qualifier but not yet a medalist.
“Every year it seems like his bracket is loaded,” Roark said. “And it’s not as if he doesn’t put in the effort.”
Fisher is seeking his 100th win this year. Cole Roark looks to be stronger as well.
“Cottongim is a strong kid. He benched 370 on (Oct. 19),” Roark said.
The rest of the projected roster could include freshmen Josiah Perryman and Andrew Dent at 106, sophomore Cole Patton at 113, juniors Hayden Dearborn or Terrell Mebreur at 132, senior Regan Mowery (138), Eljah Arl and Robert Garner (145), Jon Berry or Taylor Kaffenberger at 195 and 2016 OC champion Noah Simmons in the upper weights.
Simmons missed last year due to an injury sustained in football.
The team also features a number of freshmen with experience in USA Wrestling, and several girls also have turned out to compete.
“We’ve got a solid freshman group,” Roark said. “Those guys who started in the past, if they slack off, they won’t be on varsity long.”