By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The idea summer scene for every high school wrestling coach would be a packed house on open mat days and a crowded weight room.
That apparently played out for Tod Sundlie, the Ozark High School wrestling coach.
“Our team really had great buy-in this last summer with quality mat time opportunities, as well as committing to getting stronger in the weight room,” Sundlie said. “Our leaders led by example, and the team followed. We are looking forward to watching them reap the benefits of their hard work this season.”
As the curtain rises on a new season, Ozark anticipates about 30 wrestlers on the roster – three who were state qualifiers. But the real intrigue is that the Tigers graduated only one senior.
The state qualifiers? Those are senior Wyatt Snyder (120) and juniors Elijah Maskrod (132) and Clayton Moison.
Snyder was 35-12.
“He has worked over the offseason to win more matches up at state, and his experience has told him what he needs to do,” Sundlie said. “He will be asked to be one of our leaders this year, and so far he has embraced this role.”
“Maskrod improved all season last year and qualified for state as a sophomore,” Sundlie said. “He continued to improve throughout in the offseason, and has really shown the ability to lead by example. He is one of the hardest workers on the team, and the influence he has on his teammates is very admirable. He will also be asked to be a leader this year.”
Moison 29-12 and is a two-time state qualifier.
“Clayton brings a lot of experience in the room, and is just one of our toughest kids,” Sundlie said. “He understands that he needs to make a few adjustments in some areas to be a more consistent this year, and we expect him to have a great season.”
The rest of the projected roster includes sophomore Dylan Billingsley (113), freshman Braxton Strick (126), junior Riley Newsom (145), senior Riley Sundlie (152), senior Kale Conway (160), sophomore Ryan Dotson (170), senior Chance Strickler (182), senior Colby Allen and Braegan Patman (195), sophomore Luke Hulse and junior Hunter Tennison (285).
“Kale Conway, Chance Strickler, and Riley Sundlie are all seniors that have really set a great example of hard work, commitment, and what it means to be a quality teammate in our program,” Sundlie said. “Chance and Riley both had season ending injuries last year, however both responded with great off-season commitment to leading and improving. These guys are skilled wrestlers who will certainly be looking to compete at a high level this year.”
He noted Conway is “probably physically our toughest wrestler” and was rewarded with hardware from a couple of tournaments.
“He has gained a lot of confidence in the last year and simply will not get out-worked,” Sundlie said. “He also had a great off-season, and is a great teammate. He will be exciting to watch this year. All three of these wrestlers will be asked to lead our team this year, and we are excited to have them in this role.”
Tennison is coming off a season-ending injury. Billingsley showed well as a freshman. Strick has a lot of national experience and could make an immediate impact.
“We are looking forward to a lot of growth this year,” Sundlie said. “Though we are inexperienced in many ways, we have a hard-working, coachable bunch of kids. This usually makes for a fun season.”