By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
A Top 10 showing – specifically at No. 6 in Class 3 – at the state tournament last year didn’t simply warrant some “atta-boys” from coach Marty Hauck to his Rolla High School wrestlers.
He saw it for what it was: A sign that the Bulldogs are not that far away from making some significant noise state-wide.
“Obviously, everyone’s goal is to win the state title. Our goal is to have fun and compete in everything we do,” Hauck said. “We’ve continued to raise the bar each year and, if we do that again, hopefully we’ll be on the podium as a team.”
As the curtain rises on this season, Rolla offers much intrigue as the roster could feature more than 100 wrestlers – including 13 returning starters. Among them are four returning state qualifiers, three who medaled.
The medalists were 106-pound senior Anthony Sederburg (third place) and 120-pound sophomore Nate Pulliam (state runner-up), 126-pound Zack Fennell (third place) and heavyweight-division Justin Briggs is back after qualifying for state.
Pulliam finished 49-1 last season.
“(Finishing second) fueled his fire for this season,” Hauck said. “He went to Fargo and competed at the national tournament. He’s been on a mission ever since. I’m looking for him to come out and have a huge season.”
Sederburg finished 50-2.
“I’m looking for him to have outstanding senior campaign,” Hauck said. “He’s progressively gotten better every year.”
Fennell lost in the quarterfinals but battled through the consolation bracket.
“The kid has a lot of grit and heart and is going to be very hard to beat this year,” Hauck said.
Briggs had several injuries last year and yet advanced to state.
The rest of the projected lineup includes sophomores Xander Sederburg and Billy Cowan at 113, juniors Collin Woods and Wyatt Sowers at 132, junior Dathan Mickem and sophomore Isaac Hunter at 138, seniors Justin McEnaney and Johnnie Swizdor at 145, freshman Adre Ridenhour and sophomore James Wick at 152 and sophomore David Redding and junior Tristan Lietz at 160. Freshman Hunter Hoffman, sophomore Payton Lambeth and senior Dakota Arthur are also listed on the roster of lighter weights.
In the upper weights, look for freshman Hayden Fane and junior Logan Hadley at 170, senior Bryce O’Connor and sophomore Eric Henson at 182, junior Colton Franks and freshman Dakota Kelly at 195 and junior David Rogers and freshman Reis Clark at 220. Nate Crouch also is at 285.
Rolla has momentum. The Bulldogs finished ninth as a team at state in 2017, Hauck knows how to build a team (he had success at nearby St. James) and the program opened a new facility last year. A few freshmen and girls could be nice suprises, too.
“We had a great time up (in Wisconsin) this summer and got in some great duals and clinicians,” said Hauck, who now has a state-wide winter schedule. “I think it’s going to be very beneficial to our team. We also went to the national tournament, and that raised our level in the room.”