Warsaw wrestling will have to replace two of its three state placers from last season. The Wildcats graduated Dallas Larsen (4th at 126 pounds) and Nathaniel Farquier (4th at 285 pounds).
“It is very difficult to replace state placers, most notably, Larsen and Fauquier. Dallas Larsen was a rock for our program finishing his career as our all-time career win with 181 wins. That is a lot of team points that we will have to get creative on how we can replace them. Nathaniel Fauquier gave our team a lot of flexiblility during duals. He bounced between 220 and 285, which as a coach, allowed me to play with match-ups with the different teams that we faced. Another wrestler that we will miss this year is Jayden Schepker. He was a state qualifier and one of our best leaders on the team,” Warsaw coach Jared Steenburgen said. “As any coach will state, that losing three wrestlers that were at the state tournament last year hurts because they only add to the competition level in your practice room. That’s where your team really grows and gets better and these three wrestlers were some of our most competitive kids that we have had in our program in recent memory.”
The state placer that does return is senior Kolby Estes. Estes is a two-time state runner-up who finished second at 145 pounds last year in a 6-5 decision. That experience in state championship matches should pay off in a big way in his senior season.
“The main lesson that Kolby Estes has learned is he just has to come out and wrestle ‘his’ match from start to end,” Steenburgen said. “He is such a dynamic wrestler because he truly loves the sport of wrestling. He has been completely bought in from a very young age and is always trying to learn new styles and moves to add to his arsenal. Competing in the off-season has also helped him out a lot. The past two off-seasons he has went to Fargo and just seeing the different competition level forces him to set the bar even higher for himself. My expectation for Kolby is very simple; it’s his time to win a state title.”
Senior Kieon Davis (160), junior Delmar Graves (120) and sophomores Justin Martin (132) and Colby Stephens (285) are poised for breakout years according to Steenburgen.
“Don’t be surprised if you see Kieon Davis standing on the state podium this season. He has all the tools that any coach wants out of a wrestler, now it’s his time to put it all together,” Steenburgen said. “Delmar Graves is a kid that comes in a works just as hard as anyone I have ever met. Each year he gains for confidence in his abilities and looks more conformable each time he steps out on the mat. Justin Martin is a young wrestler but is a very athletic kid. He will surprise a good amount of people this season. Colby Stephens is a very good athlete for the 285 weight class. If we can iron out some small details with him, we could see him at the state tournament as well this season.”
Patrick Surrell (junior – 152), Zander Fletcher (sophomore – 132), Deric Flores (senior – 152) and Jesse Barkley (junior – 126) are all athletes that will help the varsity level.
MSHSAA added girls wrestling as a separate sport this year, and the Wildcats will have one girl on the roster in senior Autumn Long.
“I think this year’s expectations are not any different than any other season,” Steenburgen said. “We are going to build and develop our kids for a run at the state tournament. We have built the expectation of having less than four at the State Tournament is not meeting the standard. I know this doesn’t seem like a lot of state qualifiers, however, this is where we are and we will continue to increase this over time.”