By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
With two-time All-Stater Gaven Sax, all-conference Adam McDaniel as well as the Seely sisters – Jazzmine and Justice – the Waynesville High School wrestling team won’t need to worry too much about recruiting the hallways.
After all, the guys’ success and the Seely sisters’ acting as an extended recruiting services has the participation numbers rising already. In early October, coach Lucas Smith was hoping to get 50 wrestlers out this year. That number has blown past 50.
Which is critical for a team that last year held guys out of district in order not to further injuries.
“And I’ve got some football players coming out, too,” Smith said. “The critical thing is depth. We have a lot of quality kids, but young kids. We need depth to push each other.”
On the boys side, six starters are back from last season, including two state qualifiers.
Sax placed third last season, falling 4-3 in the state semifinals. He was fifth as a sophomore. He projects at 152 pounds.
“He’s been working real hard,” Smith said, noting Sax competed in a late-October national tournament at Northern Iowa University and may sign with Westminster College. “He’s made great strides since his freshman year. He had great credentials by medaling in state and national tournaments.”
“He didn’t medal his freshman year, and he got refocused that offseason,” Smith said. “His technique has been good. He likes to work in space on his feet. On top, he’s got a great cradle.”
McDaniel is at 145 after being a state qualifier last season and recently visited Edinboro University. Two years ago, he was a JV wrestler who got a late-season call to varsity and nearly qualified for state as a No. 5 seed in the district tournament.
This past summer, McDaniel won eight matches in a junior nationals event for freestyle and Greco-Roman.
“He’s come a long way,” Smith said.
The rest of the projected lineup calls for freshman Jonathan McDaniel (106), freshman Dustin Greene (113), sophomore Kennon Redlinger (120), freshman Aiden Stearns (126), junior Kevin Cruz (132) and junior Issac Peterson (138).
In the upper weights, look for senior Micah Timko or junior Martin Medrano (160), Aiden McFarland (170), junior Colton Justus (182), senior James Choi (195), senior Davon Smith (220) and freshman Jacob Forshey (285).
Jonathan McDaniel was a state placer in youth wrestling. Redlinger and Peterson were All-Conference last year.
“Peterson and Cruz have been right on that bubble each of the last two years,” Smith said. “Hopefully they get over that hump and qualify for state.”
Redlinger is only a second-year wrestler. Smith is a transfer from the state of Texas, and Forshey is a youth club state qualifier.
The girls team features the Seely sisters. Justice will compete at 127 and was recently ranked in the Top 25 nationally. Jazzmine, who will compete at 144, is ranked at No. 15.
“We’ve got a lot of young girls wrestling – a lot of two-sport athletes who played volleyball or another sport. They want to try wrestling this year,” Smith said. “(The Seely sisters) do a lot of recruiting for me.”
Sax, McDaniel, the Seely sisters – they’re a great combination in the room.
“(Sax) as well as McDaniel are two leaders in the room, as are Justice and Jazzmine on the girls side,” Smith said. “And the kids like to follow what they do.”