The Hollister wrestling program is still building in coach Jeff Engel’s second season. He is working to build the Hollister Tigers along with assistant coaches Nate Nicholson, Tristan Engel and Storm Massey.
Hollister returns its lone state qualifier from last season in Dylan Barber.
“Last year was Dylan’s first year wrestling and we were very pleased with his overall performance. He understands there is no entitlement in wrestling. He had to constantly earn what he achieved. His experience at state was a great learning experience and one that has motivated him to get better and encourage other peers to join our young program. He helped us with our first kids’ camp this spring and the kids just couldn’t get enough of him. Watching him interact in such a positive way with our future wrestlers was a pretty neat experience,” Engel said.
Barber qualified at 285 pounds last year and went 1-2 winning his second match of the event. He will look for a deeper run this season.
“We have very high expectations for Dylan. He is a tough kid. He knows how to work through pain and discomfort. He will continue to model that grit to our team this year. Dylan is well aware of what he needs to do to be successful and he is motivated to have another great season,” Engel said.
Sophomore Rylan Newell is an underclassmen, but already a leader in the room at 132 pounds.
“(He) already puts himself in a leadership position by consistently working hard and simply will never give up. When you watch a young man like Rylan you know that he is going to be a successful adult. He will not be out hustled or out worked. He never quits – not a drill, not a practice, not a match. He takes pride in his work ethic and it shows,” Engel said.
Classmates Danny Gilmin (220) and Lane Bruck (195) give Hollister a strong sophomore class to lean on.
Freshmen Drew Nauman (170) and Layton Newell (126) will have an impact at the varsity level right away.
Hollister will join a tough Big 8 Conference this season featuring several traditional powers like Monett and Seneca.
“We are looking forward to being a part of a conference that has such a rich tradition of quality wrestling programs. Our athletes and coaches are eager to compete against and learn from these programs,” Engel said. “For example, anytime you can be around teams like Monett and Seneca you get better as a whole. Our athletes and our coaches have a great respect for what they have built and how they continue to produce outstanding programs.”
The big goal for Hollister this season is to continue to grow as a program.
“Last year we made a decision to go out and wrestle the best teams we could in an effort to build a strong program. For some of our kids that meant taking some “lumps” for the benefit of everyone. As a newer program it was important for us to fill those weight classes and show up to a dual or tri with a full squad,” Engel said. “Two years ago we finished with seven wrestlers and this past year we ended with 14. With a young team that had a lot of first year wrestlers some of our athletes were asked to go into some pretty difficult settings to perform. It takes courage to walk out there on that mat. There is no one to hide behind. We explained this to our kids and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Our upcoming season will push us to do more than we might think we are able. We want to set the precedent with our kids that we will not quit. Whether that is wrestling, an assignment at school, a class, graduating, job, or family. We want to develop athletes of character who push through difficulties, constantly realizing they can do more than they think.”