By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
As participation numbers have become consistently encouraging for the Glendale High School wrestling program, coach Bud Donnell keeps finding ways to challenge his team.
New this year is something neat – new singlets for certain matches.
“The new singlets are similar to our others, except they are primarily white,” Donnell said. “They will only be used when a wrestler is competing in a match to medal, as a way to motivate them. We will also wear them on senior night, against Central this season.”
Donnell anticipates about 60 wrestlers in the room as the curtain rises on this season, but figures 40 will make up the bulk of the roster the rest of the way.
That’s a healthy figure for Glendale, which has benefitted from Donnell’s energy in his eight prior seasons. Just look at the dual success – 89 victories over that stretch, including 9-6 a year ago.
This year’s team features 11 returning starters, although none qualified for state last season.
The projected lineup looks like this: juniors Kyle Justice (106) and Cole Tedford (113), followed by seniors Hayden Nelson (120) and Mason Goslee (126), junior Clint Wiggington (132), senior Zach Hill (138), senior Payton Ripper (145) and sophomore Jack Hewitt (152).
In the upper weights, look for senior Bryce Clark (160), sophomore Coleman Ebish (170) and seniors Camerin Willias (182), Marcus Young (195) and Thonan Rabourn (220). The heavyweight role is up for grabs.
Wiggington was a junior captain last season, when he placed fourth at the Westminster Tournament, third at the Truman Tournament and seventh at the Kinloch Classic.
“He comes in with years of experience,” Donnell said. “He is a lead-by-example type. He is quiet, but he lets his results on the mat speak for himself.”
Clark won his third Truman Tournament last year, placed sixth at the Kinloch Classic and was third at the Ozark Conference Tournament.
“He is our team captain and brings in a lot of heart and dedication to the team,” Donnell said. “He is also a member of the football team.”
Rabourn almost qualified for state last season, when he placed third at the OC Tournament and the Truman Tournament. He then gained experience over the summer in Drury University’s offseason program.
Justice wrestled up a weight class at 113 last season and placed third at the OC Tournament. But he’s heading back to 106 and, as a junior in that weight class, he could have an advantage.
Meanwhile, don’t overlook Ebish.
“He is a sophomore that has put in some serious work this offseason,” Donnell said. “He did offseason with multiple groups. He competed in several national level off-season tournaments. He wrestled up a weight class this past season.
Donnell hopes the Truman Tournament, which sits on the schedule early again, benefits his guys.
“The kids really bond with this overnight trip, and they learn to come together each season there,” Donnell said.
The bonding could help when Glendale reaches the meat of its schedule, including duals against Lebanon and Rolla – programs that are stacked up and down their lineups.
“Bryce Clark and Thonan Rabourn told me at districts last season that they both plan on making it to state this season,” Donnell said.
On the girls side, Donnell hopes several will turn out, as the team’s only competitor has moved.
“We are getting close to having more wrestlers than there are football plays on our school’s team,” Donnell said. “I am hoping with the girls team growing that I may hit 70 wrestlers. The most we have ended a season with so far is 38. Our sport is tough, so we lose several athletes because of this.”